We break down the home opener for Toronto FC, which ended in a disappointing 4-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field.
After last week’s 1-1 draw versus FC Dallas optimism was high for Toronto FC, especially as they rarely pick up any points in Texas. (Just three in 11 games.) However, this optimism was replaced by despair on Saturday, as they suffered a disheartening 4-1 loss against the New York Red Bulls in their home opener.
In some respects it was a reality check, to remind everyone concerned that there is still plenty of work to be done to turn around fortunes after a terrible 2021 season. Here are some takeaways from the game against the Red Bulls, together with the quote of the day.
1) Defence gives flashback to 2021
Last season was a historically bad one for TFC, as they allowed a franchise-worst 66 regular season goals. This resulted in wholesale changes during the off-season, in order to fix the issue.
The season opener was decent enough for the back line with the exception of Chris Mavinga, who continued his struggles from last season and was substituted at halftime. His replacement Shane O’Neill helped shore things up and he was rewarded with the start versus New York.
Unfortunately for head coach and sporting director Bob Bradley, O’Neill’s inclusion did not have the desired impact. His partnership with Carlos Salcedo at centre-back was a disappointment, with the latter particularly struggling and fortunate not to be sent off after a nasty tackle during the second half.
The Reds were ripped apart by clinical finishing on the counter by the Red Bulls, who opened the scoring on 17 minutes through Lewis Morgan. The former Celtic player would go on to record his first career hat-trick and was only denied a fourth, after an offside ruling in what was an extremely tight situation.
The game was over by half-time, with New York’s fourth goal coming from captain Aaron Long in the 42nd minute. They dominated the shots 13-6, including a 9-4 advantage for attempts on goal.
During the second 45 minutes, it took three key saves from Alex Bono — including two excellent ones — to stop the scoreline becoming even more one-sided. Whether this will be enough for him to retain his place in goal for the next game remains to be seen.
There was further concern for TFC, when Jacob Shaffelburg was substituted at half time due to a possible hamstring injury. The club will understandably be hoping it is nothing serious.
Still with Shaffelburg, both he and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty took a step back after their respective promising first competitive starts at fullback last weekend. In fairness to the duo though, growing pains should be expected as they continue to learn playing in new positions.