A 2-1 defeat in Portland is a bitter pill to swallow at the end of what has been a very successful road trip for Toronto FC. 11 points from the eight games would have been more than satisfactory for even the most optimistic of reds fans prior to the start of the season. The best news of all is that TFC will be back at BMO Field in less than a week to open the home portion of the 2016 campaign.
This was one of those days where you didn't get what you deserve if you are Toronto. TFC dominated statistically, but Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson had an absolute blinder, robbing Moor, Altidore, Bradley and Johnson point blank. Bradley will be seeing the Gleeson save on his screaming shot from just outside the box in his nightmares. If not for the acrobatics of the goalkeeper, the Bradley strike would have been in the back of the net and might have spelled a different outcome for Toronto FC.
This will be an unpopular view, but referee Baldomero Toledo had a good game. Yes, he missed the foul on Altidore in the box that should have resulted in a penalty. He also missed a clear handball committed by Moor in his own area. Mr. Toledo was consistent and neither side can feel more aggrieved than the other. Toledo allowed the players to play and didn't insert himself into the narrative, as he's been known to do. The lone goal of the afternoon for the reds off the boot of Will Johnson came as a result of the referee allowing play to continue after Sebastian Giovinco was spilled at the top of the Timbers area.
Will Johnson has been an impressive addition to the TFC midfield since his arrival from Portland in the off-season. It seemed somewhat fitting that Johnson would open his Toronto FC account on the pitch at Providence Park in front of the Timbers army. Johnson spent three seasons in Portland, capping his time with the Timbers with the MLS Cup win last year. Johnson was warmly received by the crowd in the garden city in the moments leading up to the game.
Cheers quickly turned to jeers as Johnson got under the skin of the home team and its fans. The Canadian international became public enemy number one with Timbers fans early on with a hard tackle on Diego Valeri. Johnson appeared to clatter into Valeri with his studs up which could have earned him an early trip to the showers.
The Jozy Altidore goal watch continues. The striker had chances again but couldn't find the back of the net. The lack of goal production will overshadow the fact that Altidore has played well when fit so far this season. Altidore appeared to have won a penalty for the second week in a row when Liam Ridgewell took out the feet of the US international in the first half, but referee Toledo waved play on.
For as well as Altidore has played, he isn't doing what he was brought to Toronto to do and that's score goals. His inability to find the back of the net is putting too much pressure on his teammates, namely Sebastian Giovinco, to carry the goal scoring load. The longer the drought rolls on for Altidore, the louder the voices of his critics will become.
An ankle injury forced Jonathan Osorio to miss the game in Portland. His presence was sorely missed. Tsubasa Endoh stepped in for Osorio and his inexperience hurt the reds in attack. The rookie missed a sitter that Giovinco served up on a platter. Endoh raised the ire of Giovinco later when he failed to spot the team's most prolific scorer in space, opting instead for the less threatening option of passing to Justin Morrow in a wide position. It was a rookie mistake that one hopes that Endoh will learn from.
For the first time this season, the Toronto FC back line showed a few cracks. Fanendo Adi's ice breaker was a result of poor defensive play. Perquis got caught looking a touch lost as Valeri cut in toward the middle of the field. Beitashour, Moor, and Morrow all ended up spectators as Valeri and Darren Mattocks played give and go before Valeri found Adi alone in front of goal for the tap in. It was a rare lapse from what has become one of the most rock solid backlines in Major League Soccer.
Toronto FC now returns home for four straight against FC Dallas, Vancouver, New York City FC and Columbus. It's critical that the reds put the best foot forward during this home stand. Failure to come away with a boatload of points will make what has been a successful road trip a distant memory.