The fixture of the season in the MLS so far involved Toronto FC playing out an entertaining 4-4 draw against D.C. United at BMO Field.
Despite being down for a good portion of the contest on Wednesday night, the usual — but not so much recently — scoring threats turned up for Toronto FC, to make up for the lack of defence.
Yamil Asad was the first to expose the depleted TFC back-line, as Michael Bradley committed too much to play happening in the midfield. Three defenders to beat was enough for United’s Luciano Acosta to square for Asad to tap home.
A very similar quick attacking play from United started from the midfield and finished with a cool header from Paul Arriola, that slipped right past the reach of Alex Bono.
Eriq Zavaleta made a huge error right before the end of the first half. The defender held onto possession for way too long, which resulted in Darren Mattocks picking his pockets and eventually accepting a feed from Acosta to send in the third goal.
Coach Greg Vanney looked very frustrated on the touchline, but Jonathan Osorio likely managed to put a grin back on his face from a sweet pass by Ryan Telfer, that the Canadian was able to bury.
Sebastian Giovinco dropped back to the attacking midfield, in order to allow Victor Vazquez and Osorio to push forward. It worked as the Atomic Ant put a pearl of a ball off the post, only for Vazquez to rebound to make it a one-goal contest.
D.C. United were desperately trying to kill minutes, but they couldn’t prevent another play created from the Italian. This time, an amazing piece of art found the feet of Osorio, Telfer and eventually the calm and collected head of Nick Hagglund, to tie the fixture.
Toronto got caught up in tying the game and they must have forgotten about finishing it. Every player at the back was severely out of position, which left a huge gap between Hagglund and Justin Morrow. As a result, Chris Durkin sent in a lovely ball that exposed the two defenders, which then followed the feet of Asad to a wide-open net.
As supporters were leaving, the fixture was still not quite finished. This time, it was the Reds that got the last laugh while United were parking the bus within their own box. Osorio sent in a cross, which again was headed home by Hagglund to make the final score 4-4.
- 24 shots
- 8 shots on target
- 67 percent possession
- Key Player: Jonathan Osorio
TFC Subs: Clint Irwin, Ager Aketxe, Justin Morrow, Jason Hernandez, Liam Fraser, Tosaint Ricketts, Mariano Mino
- 14 shots
- 9 shots on target
- Key Player: Luciano Acosta
D.C United Subs: Junior Moreno, Patrick Mullins, Jalen Robinson, Ian Hurkes, Jared Jeffrey, Steve Clark, Bruno Miranda
Attendance: 23,011 packed BMO Field in this fixture
- Amidst transfer rumors, Osorio had himself a night to remember with two shots and three key passes, along with his goal and game-tying assist. The 26-year-old grabbed Man of the Match honors according to this database.
- What a quiet series of fixtures it has been for Auro. His in-game performance is brilliant, but it doesn’t show up in the stats. However, four tackles on Wednesday night led the squad. The Brazilian just has to stay disciplined with his yellow card in this one.
- Bradley did not stay true to his centre-back role here, which is very interesting. Player position maps suggested that more often than not, Bradley was right at the midfield line for a good portion of the fixture. Vanney either told him to be there, or the skipper is starting to drift away from instructions.
- Giovinco’s heat map shows that he blistered United’s back-line with shots from the midfield. Rebounds played a huge part in tying the fixture up, and it goes to show that the former Juventus man can hurt an opposing squad from virtually anywhere.
Around the MLS
- Montreal Impact 3-0 Orlando City
- Atlanta United 2-0 Columbus Crew
- New York Red Bulls 2-1 Seattle Sounders
- New England Revolution 2-2 San Jose Earthquakes
- Chicago Fire 2-2 Colorado Rapids
An updated MLS table can be found here.
What’s Next for Toronto FC?
The Reds head to Yankee Stadium to take on a tough NYCFC opponent that is currently pushing for the top spot in the league. It all happens on June 24 at 5:00 p.m.
Two big takeaways from this fixture are that the Reds never seemed to lose complete hope here. It’s encouraging to see players find the switch to turn it up a notch and make a fixture competitive to get something out of it.
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- Toronto FC looking to move on from Carlos Salcedo
- As Lorenzo Insigne arrives, Toronto FC looks to get back on track
- Toronto FC: 3 takeaways from 2-1 loss to Columbus Crew
At the same time, that same switch can go right off, and it has always happened right at the beginning of each contest with this year’s squad.
Defensive awareness needs to be at least average from the first whistle. Players need to know where to be at the right time. Too often Toronto’s back-line was trying to push towards the midfield to attempt to trap United in. And too often D.C. simply countered, by hitting the Reds on the fast break.
All of this was done for a draw, and there’s been too much of that lately. A team that deserves to be taken seriously by the rest of the league wins football matches. Entertainment is one thing, but winning is and should be on a different level for these lads.
Something needs to change to make the opening 10-to-20 minutes more comfortable, because at the moment, it looks as if that is not going to happen.
Supporters can at least know that Toronto FC got something from this fixture, while seeing the return of Morrow to the lineup. Things could get better, but they could get far worse as well. Stay tuned.
Thoughts on this thrilling fixture? Was it the right/fair result? Let us know in the comments section below.