Santos Rips Defeat from Victory's Tight Grip

Oswaldo Sanchez let it slip away...literally

I thought he had stopped it.

Santos coach, Ruben Omar Romano thought he had stopped it.

But no, the ball slipped right under Oswaldo Sanchez’s person, and the goalie swatted helplessly at the ball to try and keep it out of the goal. If he had succeeded, Santos would have defeated Toluca in a shootout to win their 4th championship. He didn’t, but it didn’t matter. They just needed to net one more goal.

One goal in two tries.

It didn’t happen.

Sanchez’s near stop unchained a series of events so improbable, so painful for Santos fans to witness, and so glorious for the Toluca faithful. First it was Matias Vuoso who could have redeemed himself from one of the worst whiff’s of the year ( he swung and missed from six yards out deep into the second overtime). He missed the net entirely and scolded himself like a grades-chooler as he walked away.

But they still had one more chance.

Carlos Morales didn’t even come close. It was deadlocked at 3 after the 5 kicks.

Toluca, whose two buggest stars, Zinha and Hector Mancilla, had been the goats of the spot kicks, got an unexpected reprieve. Edgar Dueñas made good with his new found fortune. It was up to Fernando Arce to keep Santos alive. He took an unusually wide angle to kick. “He is going left.” I told Leo the Foxbox operator (we were working on the Rangers-Cubs game). He did. It didn’t matter so much that I guessed the direction. But I wasn’t the only one. Chorizero keeper Alfredo Talavera also guessed left. Parried the shot. Toluca won the Bicentenario 2010, their 10th championship.

10s were wild in Toluca

Toluca has equaled America with 10 championships. 7 of those have come since the season has been split into halves, which is usually the first point of contention that any Americanista (or Chiva or Cementero) serves up when they try to discount Toluca’s achievements. And that’s fine. But last I checked, those teams also play in the short tournaments and celebrate their titles just as much as if it were a long tournament. I saw the billboards in Mexico City after Chivas won their last title. The stars they've all added to their crests are the same size as all the others.

But if the short season criterion is to be used, that’s fine. Toluca’s 7 short season championships are more than the combined 5 short season trophies they have won. As Toluca coach, Chepo de la Torre said earlier in the week, “it’s not the size of the fan base that makes a team big, it’s the number of titles won.”

Felicidades, Diablos