Looks, possession stats, even shots on goal can be deceiving when it comes to the sport of soccer. That was the case today as Toronto FC outplayed the visiting New England Revolution for the majority of 90 minutes at BMO Field, but ultimately lost 3-1.
Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe both took advantage of Toronto errors, while a Teal Bunbury cross found the foot of Damien Perquis for an own goal. Robbie Findley had the lone goal for Toronto FC, who were unable to find the back of the net despite several chances.
The loss puts Toronto six points behind the Revolution for fourth place in the East, and subsequently a home playoff spot in the first round wildcard. Toronto does still have a game in hand.
The New England Revolution opened the scoring just four minutes into the match, when a Teal Bunbury cross found the foot of Toronto defender Damien Perquis who redirected the ball into the back of his own net.
The goal seemed to ignite Toronto FC however, as they would dominate the rest of the half. Moments after the goal Toronto would create a chance of their own, but a header from Robbie Findley was placed just a little bit too high and found the crossbar.
Toronto would spend the rest of the half putting on a show of team skill, strength and determination. Visually it was one of their best halves of the season as they outright dominated one of the league's best teams.
It wasn't good enough, however, as New England would play the perfect away game: absorbing the pressure and waiting for their opportunity.
It would come in the 39th minute, when Diego Fagundez got on the end of some well-worked build up play. His curling shot from the top of the box found the corner of the net, and gave New England a 2-0 lead heading into the halftime break.
Despite the disheartening first half, however, Toronto did not change their effort or play as the second half opened. Findley, who had missed several chances in the first half, finally found the back of the net for Toronto FC making it 2-1.
His 56th minute strike woke up a BMO Field that had gone dormant after Fagundez' goal. Findley's goal came courtesy of a Justin Morrow cross, which the striker redirected with his head into the New England net.
After this Toronto would once again have several chances as the half wore on, especially off the foot of Sebastian Giovinco. The Italian did just about everything in the match short of finding the back of the net, as finishing alluded the entire team on the day.
Once again, however, New England made the most of their opportunities. When Michael Bradley made a surprising decision to try and dribble out of his own box, substitute Kelyn Rowe made him pay.
Stripping the ball off Bradley, Rowe fired a low shot into the corner of the net to make it 3-1 for the Revolution, there third goal on just three shots on goal at that point. The 71st minute goal would all but kill Toronto FC's chances, as the home side couldn't regain composure.
The club will have to regain their wits soon, however, as they now only have two days to prepare for a crucial midweek match against New York City FC, who will be looking to gain ground of Toronto in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
With only seven games left in the Major League Soccer season, every game now has huge implications as to whether or not Toronto will make a first-ever postseason appearance.