Friday the 13th was yesterday, but there was certainly a nightmare feeling around BMO Field today. In a game that had more twists and turns than an episode of Game of Thrones, Toronto FC fell victim to the Vancouver Whitecaps, losing 4-3. It was the Whitecaps first ever victory in Toronto.
The home side was down 2-0 in the 18th minute, courtesy of goals from Kekuta Manneh and Christian Bolanos. Sebastian Giovinco would then score a brace, one on either side of halftime, to tie the match 2-2. Not to be outdone, Vancouver put the match beyond reach late with another goal from Manneh, and the winner from Pedro Morales.
Toronto FC scored one more before the end of the match, a Drew Moor header, but failed to put one of their many chances past David Ousted in the Vancouver goal. The club's finishing issues continued to play out, as they missed a number of chances to tie the game late.
It was a defensive implosion that really cost Toronto FC three points, however, as the club dug itself into a big hole early in the match. For whatever reason, Toronto couldn't seem to find the on switch until late in the half.
"Our start to the game was pathetic," said coach Greg Vanney after the match. "The lack of concentration, attention to things, giveaways, carelessness."
After Giovinco scored a pair of goals to put the club back into the match midway through the second half, they forgot their defensive assignments again. In the space of two minutes, Manneh embarrassed the Toronto backline before Morales was left wide open in transition.
It was a sobering game for a defensive unit who, to this point, had been on pace to have the best defensive season in the league. Toronto FC was bound to leak a few goals at some point, but it didn't seem probable that it would happen at home, least of all against a Vancouver team missing a number of its best attackers.
"We crawled out of the hole, and dug ourselves out and then fell back behind," said Drew Moor, who scored his first goal for Toronto FC tonight. "It's disappointing, but it's a learning experience. Sometimes you've got to get punched in the face to realize we aren't as good as we think we are."
The game was a nightmare for everyone wearing a Toronto FC shirt, but none felt more cursed than Jozy Altidore. The American striker earned a penalty in the first half, and looked to have given Toronto FC a window back into the match.
However, as he stepped up to take the penalty he injured his hamstring. Ousted stopped his predictable penalty, and he was forced to leave the game. It was another low moment in a season that has not been kind to Altidore so far.
"He's not been playing poorly, he's been playing well," said Vanney after the match. "He's been doing a lot of work for the group. He just hasn't had the fortune or the finishing touch just yet. But he's capable of doing it."
Toronto FC would eventually get some offence, and once again it all came from Giovinco. The Italian has been involved in all 11 of Toronto FC's goals so far this season, and now has 7 goals and 4 assists on the year. But despite yet another outstanding effort, the Italian was not willing to distance himself from the result.
"We are a team, when we make mistakes it is all of us," he said. "Either those who are too slow to pass the ball, the President, it reflects on all of us."
Toronto appeared to have a window back into the game late when Canadian Fraser Aird was sent off for a challenge on Jonathan Osorio that resulted in his second yellow card of the match. Osorio was left hobbled, having re-injured the same ankle that has seen him on the sidelines of late. He was seen walking after the match, however.
The club ultimately missed their chance to bring the game level, however, and would miss out on a chance at the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they will find out tomorrow if they lose any ground in the standings.
The good news is that Toronto FC has a quick chance to rebound with a midweek match against the Columbus Crew, a club ripe for the picking if there ever was one. For now, this result can be seen as a blip on the radar, but the club's history will always make it seem like a lot worse.