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Cruz Azul downs Toronto FC in CONCACAF Champions League play

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| April 28, 2021, 12:47 AM TAMPA, Fla. — Toronto FC coach Chris Armas knew there was not a lot of room for error against Mexican league leader Cruz Azul, a team in season and on a roll. But mistakes costs his MLS side dearly in a 3-1 loss Tuesday evening in the first leg…

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| April 28, 2021, 12:47 AM

TAMPA, Fla. — Toronto FC coach Chris Armas knew there was not a lot of room for error against Mexican league leader Cruz Azul, a team in season and on a roll.

But mistakes costs his MLS side dearly in a 3-1 loss Tuesday evening in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal.

Toronto was vulnerable on set pieces, not for the first time this young season, with goals coming off both a corner and free kick. The other followed a TFC turnover.

“Of course (Cruz Azul) is a good team but we let ourselves down, defending our (penalty) box again,” said Armas.

“Clearly we have work to do there and it cost us tonight,” he added. “And you can talk about the other games too where we let ourselves down. It’ll be hard to win soccer games when that stuff’s not right. I will figure that out.”

The result means TFC will have to score at least three goals and restrict the Cruz Azul attack next Tuesday in the second leg at Mexico City’s famed Azteca Stadium.

“The second leg’s going to be a tall task to turn it around,” conceded veteran fullback Justin Morrow. “They’re a really good team. You can tell they’re far into their season. They were really sharp on the day. We’ll expect more of that next week. We’re going to go there and give our best.”

The series winner will face either MLS champion Columbus or Mexico’s Monterrey in the semifinal of CONCACAF’s flagship club competition.

Bryan Angulo had two goals and Pablo Aguilar, a big presence at centre back alongside Juan Escobar, also scored for Cruz Azul. Jonathan Osorio replied for Toronto, which moved the ball around but did not manufacture many chances.

The Mexican side outshot Toronto 18-5 (10-3 in shots) on target.

“There were no secrets tonight. They’re a good team. They can play … They have not lost much in this last year,” Armas said of Cruz Azul. “So we knew it would be tough. Not a lot room for error.”

Cruz Azul came into the match atop the Liga MX standings at 13-2-1 and unbeaten in 16 games (14-0-2) in all competitions. Toronto, in contrast, collected just one point from its first two games of the MLS season, losing 4-2 to CF Montreal and tying Vancouver 2-2.

The game was played behind closed doors at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, home to the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 65,000-capacity venue hosted WrestleMania 37 on April 10-11.

It was 25 degree Celsius for the 10 p.m. ET kickoff.

Ecuador’s Angulo stunned Toronto in the third minute, curling a superb right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box into the far corner past Alex Bono. The play started with a Jozy Altidore giveaway just inside the Cruz Azul half with the burly forward almost making it back in time to win the ball back.

Osorio pulled Toronto even in the 20th minute, showing a nice turn of speed to beat Cruz Azul defender Ignacio Rivero to the ball and send a low cross into a crowded penalty box. The ball bounced off two Cruz Azul defenders before falling to Osorio, who tucked it in underneath 40-year-old Mexican international goalkeeper Jesus Corona.

It was the Canadian midfielder’s fifth Champions League goal, moving him past Sebastian Giovinco into sole possessions of second place behind Ryan Johnson (six) in the club record book.

The Mexican side appeared to have gone ahead two minutes later on a free kick when an off-balance Escobar scored on a fine header. But the goal was called back for offside upon video review, newly introduced to the competition.

Video review saved Toronto again six minutes later when referee Ricardo Montero, after checking the pitchside monitor, decided there was no handball after Rafael Baca’s shot hit Osorio from close range. Osorio seemed more concerned about protecting his body from the shot than getting an arm to it.

But the Mexicans kept coming and Angulo made it 2-1 in the 34th minute off an Orbelin Pineda corner, with an unmarked Aguilar headed the ball on to the far post where Angulo beat Morrow to knock it in.

Another set piece letdown led to a third Cruz Azul with the powerful Aguilar rising above Michael Bradley to head in a Pineda free kick in the 58th minute to make it 3-1.

And while Toronto’s starting 11 was bolstered by the return of Altidore, Osorio and Morrow, the club is still missing some key pieces in Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo (thigh) and French defender Chris Mavinga (calf).

Fullback Richie Laryea was also missing, suspended for yellow card accumulation.

On a positive note, Armas said there was a chance that new signing Yeferson Soteldo could see some action next week. The Venezuelan international winger is billed as a difference-maker.

Toronto dispatched defending Liga MX champion Mexico’s Club Leon 3-2 on aggregate in the round of 16, tying 1-1 in Leon and then winning 2-1 in Florida despite an injury-riddled roster.

Cruz Azul downed Arcahaie FC 8-0 on aggregate in its round-of-16 tie, bouncing back from a scoreless first leg to thump the Haitian side in the rematch at Azteca.

TFC was one of three Toronto teams playing in the area Tuesday evening. The Raptors lost 116-103 to the Brooklyn Nets at Tampa’s Amalie Arena while the Blue Jays defeated the Washington Nationals 9-5 at nearby TD Ballpark in Dunedin.

The Canadian teams have set up shop in the Sunshine State due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Tuesday marked the third time the teams have met in Champions League play, with the first two times in group play in 2010-11. TFC won 2-1 at BMO Field and the teams tied 0-0 in Mexico City.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2021

01:17ET 28-04-21

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Alberta eases security payment burden for oilsands companies

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Alberta is changing how it calculates the payments oilsands mines make to ensure there’s enough money to clean up the mess they leave behind — a move the province says is in reaction to low oil prices last year, which briefly reached negative values.

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Alberta is changing how it calculates the payments oilsands mines make to ensure there’s enough money to clean up the mess they leave behind — a move the province says is in reaction to low oil prices last year, which briefly reached negative values.


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Ontario vowed to investigate horrific deaths in long-term care. Now it says that didn’t happen.

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Nearly one year ago, as the first detailed picture emerged of the true scale of the horror faced by residents of Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, a visibly emotional Premier Doug Ford vowed his government would conduct a full investigation. Now it turns out that didn’t happen.

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Nearly one year ago, as the first detailed picture emerged of the true scale of the horror faced by residents of Ontario’s long-term care system during the pandemic, a visibly emotional Premier Doug Ford vowed his government would conduct a full investigation. Now it turns out that didn’t happen.


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Grim ICU projections drove Jason Kenney to impose tough COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced…

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier François Legault leave a press conference in Ottawa on Sept. 18, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Alberta’s decision to impose tougher COVID-19 restrictions after resisting that option for weeks was driven by projections that the province’s intensive care units would be so overwhelmed that doctors could be forced to start rationing care within a month.

Premier Jason Kenney laid out that dire scenario on Wednesday as he explained why his government is imposing a suite of new public health measures, including moving K-12 classes online, shutting down restaurant patios and forcing non-essential businesses that have three or more COVID-19 infections to close.

Mr. Kenney asked people who are opposed to public-health restrictions — a group that includes members of his own United Conservative Party caucus who have publicly criticized such measures — to think about the prospect of someone they cared about being denied care because the hospitals cannot cope.

“We’re not telling people this to create unnecessary fear,” Mr. Kenney said Wednesday, after using a televised address to announce the new rules the night before.

“We’re just trying to be straight up with Albertans about where we are.”

Alberta has the highest COVID-19 rates in North America and is among the few provinces in Canada where the number of daily infections is increasing. Alberta has about twice the active infections per capita as Ontario.

There were 146 COVID-19 patients in the province’s ICUs as of Wednesday, a slightly lower number than in recent days, but still about twice as many as a month ago. Mr. Kenney said there are also 60 non-COVID patients in ICUs, which together puts the province above the capacity it had before the pandemic.

Health officials say they can expand the province’s capacity to 425 ICU beds, but that would require the cancellation of most non-essential surgeries and medical procedures. Alberta Health Services released a triage document last week that would guide decisions to ration care by focusing on patients with the highest likelihood to survive the following year.

Mr. Kenney’s government had closed indoor dining at restaurants and imposed a number of other restrictions a month ago, but had resisted further restrictions even as infections exploded. The new measures are the most severe the province has seen since the first wave a year ago.

The Premier has chided people who continue to defy the public-health restrictions, including protesters at anti-lockdown rallies that have been a regular feature of some Alberta cities and a rodeo, held last weekend, that drew large crowds to a site near Bowden in flagrant violation of the ban on large outdoor events.

The opposition he has faced within the UCP caucus includes more than a dozen MLAs publicly criticizing the province’s public-health orders last April.

Mr. Kenney has played down that opposition, saying it amounted to healthy debate. He said on Wednesday that politics was not driving his government’s response to the pandemic.

“We do, however, obviously have to be mindful of the broader context of public opinion in Alberta, about people’s willingness to comply with the rules,” he said.

“As I’ve said repeatedly, there’s no point in adopting a policy that will only invite widespread non-compliance.”

One of the signees of a letter protesting restrictions last month – UCP MLA Nate Horner – said understands there’s a risk that Alberta hospitals become overwhelmed.

“I know we all need to pull together,” Mr. Horner, the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler, said Wednesday. “I don’t want to do anything other than support the decisions that have been made. That being said, we still do have very rigorous debate within caucus.”

Mr. Horner said he signed the original letter to let his constituents know he was advocating for a regional approach to restrictions in caucus discussions.

“I represent a very rural riding that over the last 14 months has had periods when there’s been very little COVID in vast areas,” he said. “Skip the Dishes and DoorDash aren’t a thing here.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro says the province won’t proceed with further easing of community health restrictions on COVID-19 even though hospitalizations are under the benchmark 300 figure. Shandro says cases and hospitalizations are trending up and it would not be safe to further reopen the economy, which would include allowing indoor gatherings. The Canadian Press

Mr. Horner noted he fielded about 70 calls from unhappy constituents Wednesday – many who are facing the loss of work and business income, are concerned about schools being closed for two weeks, and don’t understand why the federal government hasn’t implemented stricter border controls.

“A lot of them understand the severity of the issue. They’ve seen the cases rise – they know the situation has changed,” he said.

Other MLAs who signed last month’s letter, such as Mark Smith in Drayton Valley-Devon, Jason Stephan of Red Deer-South, and Miranda Rosin of Banff-Kananaskis, posted the live feed of Mr. Kenney announcing new public health measures on their Facebook pages – without comment.

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