Down a man, and down a goal Toronto FC were unable to fight back and earn a point in Colorado. TFC fell to the Colorado Rapids 1-0 last night for their second straight loss. The loss drops them out of a playoff spot, albeit just four games into the season.
Toronto were dealt a major blow just 12 minutes into the game when Benoit Cheyrou was sent off after a controversial second yellow card. It is the third straight match that Toronto FC will feel hard done by the officiating, as Cheyrou's sending off was light at best.
After falling down to 10 men, Toronto would concede just five minutes later. Marco Pappa played a brilliant ball over the top to Luis Solignac, and the Argentine would slot the ball past Clint Irwin for the game's only goal. The goal appeared to be offside, but only marginally.
Toronto FC would fight back valiantly, but were unable to find a breakthrough for the second straight game. In fact they never really came close, only getting two shots on goal giving Zac MacMath very few threats.
It was the second straight game that the team has been shut out, as the offense appears to have gone dry. Few MLS teams have done a better job of shutting down Sebastian Giovinco than the Colorado Rapids did last night, smothering him whenever he had a chance. Evidently this was easier with one less attackers, but it is never an easy task.
The only chances Giovinco really had were from set pieces, and those turned out to be Toronto FC's best chances of the game as well. Things would improve slightly when Jozy Altidore came off the bench, but even he couldn't find the breakthrough the club needed.
Ordinarily, it wouldn't be all that concerning that Toronto were unable to fight back and tie a game while down and man on the road. That isn't an easy task by any means. However, the Rapids really didn't offer a ton of resistance. Instead, Toronto once again struggled to move the ball up field, something magnified by the fact that they were missing a man.
Perhaps no player was more affected by the Cheyrou red card than Mo Babouli, who earned his first MLS start. His role, which was supposed to be offensive, changed completely as a result of the man going off and he struggled throughout. Hopefully Vanney gives him another start in short order, because this really wasn't a fair assessment of his abilities.
On a positive note, Clint Irwin had a very good outing in his return to Colorado. He has been good all year, but this was definitely his best performance as he thwarted Colorado on several occasions, especially late in the match when things opened up late in the second half.
He would get some help, however, both from a fairly solid performance under the circumstances from his defenders and the poor finishing of the Rapids. Colorado had 23 shot attempts during the match, but only 8 of them would find their way on target.
Just four games into the season it would be foolish to get too concerned, especially considering the fact that the team has for the most part played well. However tonight was one of the games that many would have circled on their calendar as winnable for Toronto during their season opening road trip. The fact that they didn't get any points is disappointing, regardless of circumstances.