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Justin Braun Laments Late-Game Collapses

After Saturday's game against Houston, Toronto FC's big forward up top spoke about conceding late goals, the Eastern Conference and his partnership with Luis Silva.

Justin Braun battles for possession against the Houston Dynamo
Justin Braun battles for possession against the Houston Dynamo

It’s never easy to concede a late goal.

Heading into the final minutes of the game, Toronto FC held a 1-0 lead over MLS Cup finalists, the Houston Dynamo, on April 20 at BMO Field. With less than 30 seconds to go before the final whistle, the Dynamo managed to score on a corner kick.

The result: a 1-1 draw that felt like a loss for Toronto FC. You could see it on the faces of the players, especially on forward Justin Braun’s, who looked utterly heartbroken at the late-game collapse.

“Obviously, disappointing to have the team put that kind of effort in for 93 minutes and have that happen,” said Braun. “It’s pretty deflating, especially when it’s happened a few weeks in a row now. It’s something that we can’t let happen.”

As Braun referenced, the late-game collapse against the Houston Dynamo isn’t a one-off. In 2013 alone, Toronto FC has conceded late three times: the first was against the Los Angeles Galaxy, when the Reds gave up a 2-1 advantage in added time; the second instance was against the Philadelphia Union, when Toronto FC blew a 1-0 lead in the 94th minute of play.

While three points looked almost assured for Toronto FC, the club had to settle for just the one, and as one bad result turned into three, Toronto remained near the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference. Each and every point is important to teams in MLS, a fact not lost on Braun.

“If we walked away with wins in all those games we’d be top of the table,” said Braun. “We have to take a look at ourselves and stop putting that up.”

Still, regardless of the six points now lost, there are plenty of positives for Toronto FC. In particular, Braun linked up well with Toronto’s 2012 first round draft pick, Luis Silva. The two moved well on and off the ball, combined on numerous occasions and created goalscoring opportunities for each other and for fan-favourite, Robert Earnshaw.

“Me and Luis [Silva], since day one of preseason, have had a good partnership,” said Braun. “I kind of know his tendencies, he knows mine. It’s working well but obviously there’s a lot to grow there, and we’re going to work in training each day, and hopefully keep improving and keep getting better results.”

Toronto FC continues to grow under head coach Ryan Nelsen, and with a busy few weeks coming up, there are plenty of chances for the team to iron out those late-game jitters, too.