It's been a confusing stretch of games for Toronto FC, and tonight's match only brings more mixed emotions. For 90 minutes tonight, a makeshift TFC squad dominated the visiting Seattle Sounders. However, when the final whistle blew the score was tied a 1-1, and Toronto only came away with a single point.
In these trying times for the club, that point is important, but Toronto FC feels that they left two on the field tonight at BMO Field. They will find little satisfaction in what was a solid performance, knowing that at the end of the day, it is points that will determine whether or not they are in good shape coming out of the summer months.
The club proved tonight that they certainly still have plenty of talent without their quartet of missing, and crucial, starters, but whether or not they can get results without them was left unanswered.
"At the end of the day, it is a game of execution in the boxes," said Greg Vanney of the match. "We didn't execute when we were in the box, and then we had one lapse really that cost us."
All of this came in a crazy couple of minutes of action, which saw Jordan Hamilton score before fellow rookie Jordan Morris quickly replied for Seattle. Morris' moment of inspiration was one of the few chances Seattle had all match, but his clinical finish was enough to earn the visiting side a point.
Toronto FC will be left to rue allowing that change, however, at that point in the game they had all the momentum and an electric crowd on their side at BMO Field. What should have been an inspiring victory quickly turned into an unsatisfying draw.
"You always know the [opposition] team is going to give you their best shot after [you score]," said Vanney after the match. "It's something that we talk about over and over. Even when the guys are jogging back, I'm yelling at them to get locked in and get together and defend. It should never be that one direct ball gets behind you and gets into the box."
The fact remains, however, that Toronto FC really should have been up by multiple goals by that point in the match anyway. The first half especially saw many key chances go to waste. If they couldn't afford to have such bad finishing before, it is especially relevant now when they have much less room for error.
Surprisingly, it was Sebastian Giovinco tonight who once again struggled in front of goal. The atomic ant hasn't quite looked the same since been snubbed from Italy's Euro 2016 squad, whether that is a coincidence or not. Tonight, he missed at least one chance that most would have bet their house on going into the back of the net.
"Right now it seems that I am not playing the best that I can," said Giovinco after the match, "I have to do better for the next game and for the future."
While Giovinco's finishing touch seems to have gone missing, it is his strike partner Jordan Hamilton who has picked up the slack. Tonight was the second straight game in which Hamilton scored, and otherwise was a threat throughout the night. He set up Giovinco's glaring first-half miss.
"It's going really well playing with [Hamilton]," said Giovinco of his 20-year-old strike partner. "He's young and he possesses a lot of great qualities, not only to play but to score. He's great for the future, but also for the present."
Also promising, was the fact that so many players stepped up to the plate today and had solid performances. In the midfield Jay Chapman played his best game with Toronto FC, providing a creative spark throughout the match. Damien Perquis did an excellent job of ushering the back line. Even Mark Bloom, who had not played for the senior team in 18 months, had a solid outing in the midfield. The depth really did step up.
"We have to look deep into the roster, and guys stepped up today," said captain for the match Steven Beitashour. "I think everyone played well."
He followed that up by saying how much it stings that they allowed the Sounders to get something out of this match, and in that he is correct. The single point puts Toronto FC narrowly back into the final playoff spot in the East, for one day at least. Two more, and they could have been fifth and significantly more secure.
That's how slim the margin of error is right now in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and it is only going to heat up over the summer months. Toronto FC can't afford to let points like this slip from their grasp again, especially at home.