It may not be the result many people or even what the team wanted, but a tie against the Rochester Rhinos, the best team in the USL, is a good step forward for team that has conceded more than four goals a game three times.
Yesterday was TFC II's first home game since starting the season on an eight game road trip. Most of the crowd was absent due to Toronto FC playing at five and defeating the Portland Timbers. Not a lot did stick around, but some supporters were present to watch TFC's future.
What was seen as a surprise was seeing both Quillan Roberts and Jordan Hamilton make the roster for the second team, hours before being on the bench for Toronto FC. Roberts got the start in goal, relieving Alex Bono of three games in one week. Hamilton started the game on the bench, but did play for 34 minutes. Both haven't played for the second team since the beginning of May.
"Kind of reminds me of the old MLS reserve league where players were having to sometimes play 120 minutes." said Jason Bent post game about playing twice in a day for other teams.
"Jordan is a goal scorer, Q is a shot stopper. Two key components that helped us so much," mentioned the captain Chris Mannella on how key it is to have those two in the lineup.
Off the start, it looked like it was going to be a battle of defences and which one will open first. TFC II pressured early on and was really trying to move the ball around in hopes that space would open up. However, when your facing a team that has only conceded four times in nine games, space is going to be limited.
What was a reoccurring theme of the match were players going down with cramps or embellishing injuries.
TFC II did have chances, and it seemed forward Mo Babouli wanted to impress the home crowd with his skill, but the Rhinos were able to stop any chance and even look to hack him to make sure he coughed up the ball.
Massimo Mirabelli, who has been impressing of late got the start for the young Reds and was able to record the team's only shots on goal. Mirabelli has been really taking his opportunities when they come.
In the second half it was more defensive pressure and plays being worked on but nothing coming from it. Both teams worked the ball into the attacking third, but were stopped by the strong defensive play. Both Skylar Thomas and Adam Bouchard seemed to work well off each other and stop any Rhinos threat.
The game was pretty quiet for most of the second, but when the 80th minute started the Rhinos began to push forward. That is when TFC II really looked impressive in the back. However a serious blow to the back line occurred in the 86th, when full back Welsey Charpie was taken off with a hamstring injury. Head coach Jason Bent didn't wanted to take precaution and subbed in centre back Daniel Fabrizi to fill the hole in the back.
"Wes went off with a hamstring injury. He was a little bit of precaution, he didn't feel it go. But it was tightening up on him and wanted to be safe so it was just a decision towards the end of the game." mentioned Bent post game about the injury to Charpie.
Charpie has been a constant starter for this team and has impressed early on. There is no word whether he will miss any time. TFC II do have another bye week this week so having time off will help any soreness Charpie or the team is going through.
"I think the team shape was very well organized and the work rate from the boys, even the subs that came in. We limited them to some long range strikes that Quillan Roberts dealt with quite easily. Pleased with the overall performance today." said head coach Jason Bent about how he taught his side faired last night.
Like I mentioned before, Mo Babouli was being heavily marked and was the victim of frequent chops. Bent went on to say that, "They see he has talent and he's quite tricky with the ball. Mo [Babouli] was a little guilty in the first half with hanging onto the ball, taking too many touches."
Even though flow of the match was stopped by some great defensive play, both Thomas and Bouchard provided some great defensive awareness. "Their partnership is getting better. I thought their organization today was pretty good, they stayed compact. The whole back four and the goalkeeper and Chris Mannella in front of them were pretty sound today." mentioned Bent.
When asked what he thought the team could improve on, Bent touched on that they need to, "We just had a problem of getting the ball up to the strikers were then we could have more sustain pressure with the ball in their defensive third.
"We didn't have enough link play getting the ball and advancing it into their defensive third." Bent added about the negatives. But he did say that he thought they had possession a lot."
Wanting to change things up, Jason Bent slotted Babouli, a forward, into the central attacking role starting the second half. Bent said that, "We wanted to get some fresh legs on, so once Jordan [Hamilton] went on for Edwin Rivas we had a bit of fresh legs up top."
"Then Manuel Aparicio came on for Massimo Mirabelli so I then wanted to push Mo up a little bit further and I thought we could get Luca Uccello behind their midfield driving out of the midfield."
"Any point we can take from the match, especially from an unbeaten team we're pretty pleased with it. We would like to get the three points but we'll take what we can get." said captain Chris Mannella, who played a very solid game in the middle of the field.
Mannella thought his side played really well, despite only coming out with one point. "The guys bounced back and we grew from that and we matured from that. The guys showed a lot of heart and I'm proud of them."
When asked what, if anything, needs to be changed, Mannella said that, "We have to be ruthless in front of the goal. Jason talks about it before the matches. We got to put the ball in the back of the net and start capitalizing on our chances."
"I think they were really excited for the match. Fair play to the supporters who stayed behind, they showed good support and they were quite vocal. Those players were itching to get out there. You can see it from the warm up." said Jason Bent
"It was amazing. Finally after an eight game road trip, definitely a different feeling. So much better than being on the road." mentioned Chris Mannella
"It was great. I had some of my family there, it was real fun. Especially with eight away games its good to come home." said centre back Skylar Thomas.