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Toluca fires manager Hernan Cristante ahead of Concacaf Champions League 2nd leg

4:27 PM EST 2/25/19
Hernan Cristante Toluca
The former Red Devils goalkeeper couldn't overcome the loss of several key attacking players with a pair of heavy defeats the final straw

Toluca's directors have had enough.

Hernan Cristante, a former goalkeeper for the club who made more than 400 appearances as a player, is no longer the manager of the team. The club announced the decision in a news release Monday.

“The Directors Council of the Club has decided that Hernan Cristante will leave the coaching job of our team.," the statement read. "We thank the work and professionalism of him and his coaching staff, to whom we wish the best in future projects."

Toluca has not won in its last seven matches, with things getting worse in the last week for Cristante. After his team lost to Sporting Kansas City 3-0 in the first leg of a Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series, it dropped a 4-0 result in league play to Santos Laguna. The defeat put the Red Devils in 15th place out of 18 teams in Liga MX with just seven points from eight matches. 

The season always was going to be a challenge, with Toluca losing attacking weapons Alexis Vega, Rubens Sambueza and Luis Quinones plus defender Cristian Borja in the offseason and. Players like Emanuel Gigliotti and Carlos Esquivel haven't been able to fill the gap, with only six goals scored so far in league play.

The club did have significant success under Cristante during the five previous tournaments in which he managed it. In the 2018 Clausura, Cristante's squad topped the table at the end of the regular season and lost the Liguilla final to Santos. He also led the team to the semifinals in the 2017 Clausura with eventual champion Chivas eliminating the team.

As a player, Cristante won five league titles with Toluca and lifted the Concacaf Champions Cup in 2013. In the 2008 Apertura, he went 772 minutes without conceding a goal, a record that still stands.

The former Argentine national team player has experience as a manager only within Mexico, but his next step is not clear. Toluca, however, has hired Jose Luis Real to lead the team for the rest of the season as the interim manager. Real, who is nicknamed "El Guero" has coached Atlas and Chivas on the senior level in addition to directing Toluca's youth teams.