Goals from Jaden Brown and Kazaiah Sterling gave us a 2-0 victory over 10-man Toluca in a gruelling final on Sunday night (December 18) as we lifted the trophy for the second time in three years.
Beaten finalists last year as well, it was always going to be a tough test against the Mexican outfit in what was our fourth match in five days at the Stateside tournament.
But after a clean sweep of victories in the group stage in which we netted 12 goals and conceded just once, we showed our steel and determination against a physical Toluca team, who saw one of their defenders dismissed in the second half after a clash with goalkeeper Brandon Austin, to secure the silverware.
“There was a real toughness to our play, if not guile and quality in our style so I’m really pleased for the boys,” said Head of Player Development John McDermott, who took a group of 20 players to the tournament.
“There were a lot of fouls and stoppages so it was a very, very tough game. Probably the last 10 minutes wasn’t that aesthetically pleasing and given how the opponents set themselves up it was difficult, but in fairness to our players we kept our self-discipline and avoided red cards, which Toluca didn’t.
“After three tough games in the group it was a bruising encounter but we’re delighted to come back as champions. We managed to create chances and scored two goals so it’s a really pleasing end to this six-month period that we’ve had. We’ve finished the six months similar to where we started off by winning a tournament in Liverpool so there’s been good progress made but there’s still a lot more to do.”
We took the lead after 16 minutes when Sterling set up Brown, his initial shot was blocked but he steered the ball in from the rebound. Goalkeeper Austin was largely untroubled and it was 2-0 on 64 minutes when Jack Roles played Sterling through and he produced a good left-footed finish. Toluca then went down to 10 men after a foul on Austin but we kept our focus and saw the game through without conceding.
“Kazaiah Sterling was a stand-out player in the game,” added John. “I thought he dominated their two central defenders and was a key factor in our success. He went through for his goal showing real composure after working hard and tussling to create his chance.
“I thought all our players stayed calm in quite difficult circumstances. I was pleased with the self-discipline that we showed and we kept cool heads in what could have become quite a hot-tempered game. We showed a level of maturity and that’s one of the reasons for coming here – you wouldn’t get that type of game back home. This is our fourth time at IMG and, off the field, we’ve been very well looked after. It’s been a really good experience to go through.”
Sunday, December 18
Spurs 2-0 Toluca (Brown 16, Sterling 64)
Spurs: Austin (De Bie 78), Lock (Dinzeyi 78), Tsaroulla, Marsh, Eyoma, Tanganga, Gonzalez-Velasco (Griffiths 40), Duncan, Sterling, Roles (Oakley-Boothe 66), Brown (Reynolds 68).