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Toronto FC's Youth Come Up Big to Salvage Draw Against Rival Columbus Crew

Toronto FC should be happy with a point in Ohio, considering all of the outside circumstances.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn't matter who is, or isn't, on the field, or where the match is being played. This year's Toronto FC team are not easy to beat, and they are proving it time and time again.

The latest test came tonight in Columbus, with the odds stacked squarely against them. Prior to kickoff, it was announced that Sebastian Giovinco was being rested for the match, joining the ever increasing group of players on the sidelines. Through the 90 minutes, Marky Delgado and Mark Bloom went down to injury, and Toronto FC went down 1-0.

A 1-1 draw against the 9th place team in the Eastern Conference wasn't a great result for Toronto FC, but given how tonight went it sure felt like one. It was another 90 minutes where Toronto FC again proved that they can overcome adversity, in a season that keeps forcing them to do just that.

Different players have come up big for Toronto throughout the season, but tonight it was the club's youth that earned a much-needed point in Ohio. After Harrison Afful gave the Columbus Crew the lead in the 54th minute, a Toronto team who had sat back for most of the match looked to be in trouble.

Ten minutes later, however, Jordan Hamilton had tied the match for Toronto on an excellent finish. It was Hamilton's third goal in MLS this season, and once again a demonstration of his increasing level of composure in front of goal.

The goal was set up by fellow Canadian youngster Jay Chapman, who has put together a strong run of games recently. Chapman beat a couple of Columbus defenders before threading the ball through to Hamilton. Chapman has often been accused of making too many back passes, and not contributing enough going forward. That has changed of late, as he has been a creative spark whenever given the chance.

The youth movement continued from there. Jonathan Osorio had a couple of very good chances to give Toronto the win, but nonetheless had a strong performance in the midfield. Tsubasa Endoh made an instant impact in the second half, making many dangerous runs and creating chances. Mo Babouli, meanwhile, showed off his abilities on the defensive side of the ball, getting back well to break up chances.

At the other end, 22-year-old Alex Bono had his best game between the posts for Toronto FC. He looked cool, confident and commanding in his box and made some big saves to keep Toronto in the match. The Toronto backline did a very good job of protecting him once again, but he came up big whenever they couldn't.

If there was one big criticism of this match for Toronto, it was how easily they gave up possession to the Columbus Crew, especially in the first half. Toronto was far too defensive in the opening 45 minutes, and while it didn't cost them it also meant that they provided no threat to Columbus.

To Greg Vanney's credit, however, he did switch things up, and Toronto FC was the aggressor at times in the second half. The key additions were Endoh and Chapman, who gave the club some much needed forward-thinking movement.

At the end of the day, Toronto FC can feel happy with claiming a point on the road against an opponent in the Columbus Crew who were desperate to take all three. It spoke to the club's character that they were able to get this result, especially after conceding early in the half.

As Toronto FC begins the second half of the 2016 MLS season, this much is clear: they aren't pushovers anymore, and if you want to beat them you have to put in your best performance. Columbus couldn't do that tonight.