Toronto FC: Defense fails to save win against Columbus Crew

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC battles for the ball with Harrison Afful #25 of Columbus Crew SC during the second half of the MLS Eastern Conference Finals, Leg 2 game at BMO Field on November 29, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29: Sebastian Giovinco #10 of Toronto FC battles for the ball with Harrison Afful #25 of Columbus Crew SC during the second half of the MLS Eastern Conference Finals, Leg 2 game at BMO Field on November 29, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

A strong start to the fixture for Toronto FC against the Columbus Crew was quickly followed by a sloppy finish in a 3-3 draw to start the month of June.

Regardless of the depleted Toronto FC lineup at the moment, the Reds are still looking for something to get the struggles of their back. A new month had the potential for new things, but it was only more of what supporters have seen from TFC’s domestic play so far this season.

It was a particularly good start for Ryan Telfer and Victor Vazquez. Telfer went down in the box after a feed from Sebastian Giovinco which raised the arm of the referee. The Barcelona product in Vazquez then finished the play with a sweet shot to the left corner of Jon Kempin.

It was a sign of encouragement for the Reds as challenges from the penalty spot have plagued the squad in the MLS. It was even more encouraging for Vazquez as he switched to the left midfield as Giovinco dropped back to the CAM role.

From there, the Atomic Ant would drive possession right down the middle of the pitch and feed the Spaniard who squared for Tosaint Ricketts to tap home.

Greg Vanney then elected to switch the roles of Vazquez and Giovinco again. The third time was a charm when Vazquez played a long ball for the Italian which resulted in the 31-year-old drawing a foul right in his sweet-spot just outside the 18-yard frame.

Giovinco’s importance from the free-kicks was talked about and it’s needed for his goal scoring for himself and the team. The former Juventus man started his month off correctly with a sublime and cool finish to the top right of the Crew net.

A two-goal lead wasn’t the most dangerous lead in sports within this fixture. A cross from Columbus moments later after the Giovinco goal was headed home by Gyasi Zardes.

Likely one of the best-attacking midfielders in the MLS in Federico Higuain sent a peach of a free kick towards the front of the Reds’ goal which Michael Bradley couldn’t clear. As a result, defender Alex Crognale tapped in the loose ball to make it a one-goal fixture.

TFC, again, were desperately trying to hang onto the lead, but silly mistakes cost the team which hasn’t been out of the ordinary recently. Both Jason Hernandez and Bradley made rather foolish attempts to try and tackle Zardes in the penalty area. Of course, he would go down from a challenge by the American skipper.

Higuain made no mistake with the penalty and Toronto had no choice but to settle for a draw from the 90th minute.

Key Stats

Toronto FC

  • 9 shots
  • 4 shots on target
  • 42 percent possession
  • Key Player: Victor Vazquez

Columbus Crew

  • 14 shots
  • 7 shots on target
  • 7 corners
  • Key Player: Federico Higuain

TFC Substitutes: Clint Irwin, Nick Hagglund, Marco Delgado, Ayo Akinola, Nicolas Hasler, Tosaint Ricketts, Mariano Mino.

Stats to look out for (WhoScored)

  • Jonathan Osorio has taken a major step down since his brilliant performance in the Champions League. The Canadian finished with nothing; he simply logged minutes before being brought off by Vanney.
  • Vazquez seemed to thrive on the wing, but it’s the attacking midfield where his true colors show. The 31-year-old sent in two crucial passes with an assist and a goal.
  • Gregory van der Wiel continues to stay under the radar with decent performances defensively. A tackle and three interceptions were solid enough for the wing-back, but maybe more can be asked of him on the other side of the pitch.
  • What played a key role in the contest was where plays were developed. Chalk maps suggested that TFC dribbled the ball out of dangerous areas (right in front of the net or congested areas), while the Crew started possession from the defensive wide areas. Of course, a big part of this was the Reds’ plan to come out aggressive, but it bit them in the end.

Around the MLS

  • Timbers 1-1 LA Galaxy
  • New England 2-1 New York Red Bulls
  • NYCFC 3-0 Orlando City
  • Montreal Impact 1-0 Houston Dynamo
  • Atlanta United 3-1 Philadelphia

An updated MLS table can be found here.

What’s next for the Reds?

Toronto head to Philly to take on the Union in the second game of their short road trip on the 8th of June.

The old it’s never too late to make up ground in the MLS standings is starting to get repetitive. TFC needs wins fast, especially with clubs towards the top starting to run away with the league.

More from Tip of the Tower

Two signs of optimism come from the fact that both the Philadelphia Union and Orlando City seem to be struggling. At the moment, the two squads seem to be battling it out for the last spot for the playoffs. Needless to say that it’s a must-win for Toronto in their next fixture.

Secondly, some players are making good progress in returning to the squad. Chris Mavinga is surely missed at the back, and some weird but hopeful tactics to help his injury have him predicted to be back towards the middle of this month.

At the same time, the players on the pitch right now need to step it up. More needs to happen from Osorio, Delgado, der Wiel and even Vazquez. Consistency is a huge problem especially with these lads in the MLS. The worst part is that everyone knows they can perform, but it seems to be on their own terms recently.

Regardless, you have to lose some to win some. This fixture with the Crew certainly felt like a loss, but let’s hope the Reds can quickly rebound for their next critical fixture.

Next: Toronto FC: Time to wait and see for Sebastian Giovinco

Will anything from the Reds change soon? What did you notice in the last 30 minutes of this fixture that caused TFC to blow the lead away? Let us know in the comments section below!