New York City FC head coach looked relieved after his team's draw with Toronto FC. Calling Toronto "one of the best sides in the league", Patrick Viera was glad his team picked up a point on the road. Toronto coach Greg Vanney was left frustrated. "At the end of the day, they had maybe one chance which is a goal and maybe one other chance. They weren't that dangerous."
On a day where David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, and Frank Lampard did not feature from the start due to squad rotation and injury, Toronto was expected to win all three points. After conceding a soft goal early in the first half, Toronto was able to tie the game against the run of play. Will Johnson scored his first home goal of the season.
The second half consisted of a dominant Toronto performance, albeit lacking the final finish. Toronto came close with a few efforts, only for goalkeeper Josh Saunders to shut the door every time. Here are five stories to take from the midweek game at BMO Field.
Another slow start
What Toronto did put forth was another abysmal start to the game, a similar problem that plagued them last game. Vanney called that start against the Vancouver Whitecaps, an eventual 4-3 loss, 'pathetic'. Vanney was upset about the way his players were playing In the first half. He felt his players were playing 'sideways and backwards' too often, which played to the advantage of the rushing New York City team. An eventual New York City rush resulted in Kwadwo Poku scoring the first goal in the 16th minute. Toronto was often caught by the New York City and didn't look comfortable on the ball.
The troubled 'right wing'
Against Vancouver, Toronto was carved open on their right wing twice to give up the last two goals of the game. Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales scored while running down those wings on partial breaks. On Wednesday, Kwadwo Poku was given more than enough space to shoot from the wing to give New York City a one goal lead. Steven Beitashour and Jay Chapman both did not close down Poku, giving up too much space. Beitashour offers a lot of options going forward, but has shown an affinity for making defensive assignments on the field.
Toronto spent the entire first half bombing long balls for their strikers to get on the end of. The only problem was that their strikers were Molham Babouli and Sebastian Giovinco. Babouli and Giovinco are 5'9 and 5'4 respectively, not necessarily physically imposing. Other than the tying goal, Toronto had one other chance that New York City did an awful job of covering on.
Toronto missed the size and aerial presence that Jozy Altidore brings forth. Even though many have questioned his goal scoring record, Altidore does a fine job of creating outlets for his teammates by utilising his size. Against New York City, Toronto was unable to maintain any sort of possession in the final third in the first half and every long ball into the final third was cut off by defenders.
Youngster settling in nicely
It's hard to remember that Tsubasa Endoh is still playing one of his first ten MLS games still. A first round pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft, Endoh has looked fantastic in Red and is taking a bigger role as the season progresses. As part of a front three with Babouli and Giovinco, Endoh was making darting runs, using his pace to cause offensive opportunities and defensive contributions. His confidence is evident on the ball and on the pitch. Furthermore, he looks even more comfortable than second-year player Jay Chapman and third-year player Dan Lovitz at times.
Giovinco streak breaks
Finally, Toronto scored a goal without Giovinco being involved in it. It took eleven games. He came close to scoring but New York City goalkeeper Josh Saunders was brilliant between the sticks. However, he's optimistic about his partnership with Babouli, saying, "I feel Mo might be more similar to me. Playing together for the first time like this was obviously tough. We feel as Saturday might be different as we will be better together."