Toronto FC II were unable to build off their derby victory over Ottawa two weeks ago on Friday night when they fell 1-0 to New York Red Bulls II at MSU Soccer Park in New Jersey.
Vincent Bezecourt scored the game's only goal, while Mark Pais came up big on several occasions with crucial saves to keep the side within striking distance. Alas, time ran out before TFC II could find an equalizer.
The shutout also brings to an end a run of five consecutive matches where Toronto had found the back of the net.
Jason Bent made a few changes to the starting eleven for Friday night. Brandon Aubrey returned to the back-line after missing out on Ottawa, but took up the left-sided role, with Mitch Taintor filling the central one and Julian Dunn maintaining his starting spot on the right.
Jordan McCrary displaced Dante Campbell at right-wing back, while Ryan Telfer reprized his role on the left. Liam Fraser and Brian James continued their partnership in the middle, but the front three were rotated with Sergio Camargo, Aikim Andrews, and Aidan Daniels starting in place of Tsubasa Endoh, Ben Spencer, and Luca Uccello.
With both sides eager to take the three points, the opening twenty minutes were a bit of a chess match, each feeling the other out, prodding without giving anything away at the other end.
Pais was called upon in the 19th minute to rush off his line to collect a dangerous ball, colliding with Junior Flemmings in the process. The TFC keeper would spill the ball, but recovered quickly, and the Red Bull forward came off worse in the contact.
That half-chance did seem to spark the hosts to life with Bezecourt and Flemmings linking up three minutes later – Flemmings' header from the Frenchman's cross went just over the bar – while a minute after that Bezecourt tested Pais from range, forcing a wonderful flying save from the keeper.
Pais could not do the same in the 27th minute when New York's attacking duo linked up once more to craft the game's only goal. Flemmings dropped deep to get on the ball before laying a pass in behind the TFC back-line for his partner to graft onto. In all alone, Bezecourt coolly placed a left-footer past Pais to the right-side of goal.
New York would nearly double their lead in the 35th minute from a training ground corner kick routine that saw Bezecourt roll a ball to the high slot for an unmarked Zeiko Lewis, but he wasted the chance, sending his effort well over.
Pais was called upon again in the 37th minute getting down well to deny Florian Valot from close range. Noah Powder put the rebound attempt wide with the net gaping.
Again in the 40th minute Pais was on hand to tip a right-footed drive from Ethan Cutler over the bar. In search of chances, New York were getting their fill on dollar hot dog night at the park.
Toronto, in desperate need of half-time, suffered another set-back in the 43rd minute when Andrews went down after a run at the Red Bull back-line. It was unclear what happened – at first it looked like he got a stray hand to the face – but he walked off holding his shoulder or arm, forcing Bent to burn an early substitute. Shaan Hundal replaced the Trinidadian attacker.
The hosts would have one last chance before the whistle blew, when Valot got past Dunn on the attacking left, but an excellent recovery run from Taintor stripped possession. Pais was quick off his line as well.
As the second half was to begin, Bent made his second substitute of the evening, bringing Brandon Onkony on for Aubrey. Whether it was a pre-planned move, forced by injury, or that Aubrey was uncomfortable on that side – Onkony is naturally a left-sided defender – remains to be seen.
Toronto's intent was clear: find the equalizer, if not more. And they started the half well, winning a corner kick inside of two minutes when a strong run from Dunn up the right played Hundal into a dangerous position.
TFC II would have tons of corners over the ensuing 45 minutes, but the 6'6” New York defender, Timothy Schmoll would win most, if not all, of the aerial balls sent into the box.
A clean, if hard-fought match, play got a little rough around the 50th minute, drawing the first and only two bookings of the night. Taintor was shown yellow for a shoulder check on Valot in the 53rd minute and Andrew Tinari saw one two minutes later for a lunge on Daniels.
That bit of bite seems to spark life into Toronto, who found several half-chances over the coming ten minutes.
Some good work from Camargo found Telfer down the left in the 56th minute, where he pulled-back an inviting ball to the top of the box only for Daniels to send his shot over. Five minutes later Daniels again had a look at goal, but his shot was deflected this time, winning yet another corner kick.
With TFC pressing, New York looked to counter. Flemmings' speed in particular was a nuisance, requiring a wonderful open field tackle from James on one occasion. And Pais was on hand again in the 65th minute when Bezecourt found himself in alone once more, only to be denied by a massive kick save from the keeper.
Bent made his final change in the 67th minute, bringing Ricardo John on for James – the clear intent of replacing a deep midfielder with a striker being a goal.
A minute later Hundal looped a ball over the back-line for Camargo, but once more his pull-back was cut out and the subsequent corner easily dealt with and Pais had to be sharp in the ensuing minute to block and cover a Lewis shot on the counter.
That pattern repeated: Toronto applying pressure, New York holding firm, dispatching set-pieces one after the other, and springing counters with the visitors pushing forward.
Interestingly, given how cleanly corners were mopped up, Toronto nearly found the breakthrough from a throw-in in the 71st minute when the centre of the pitch opened up kindly for Daniels to shape a right-footer towards goal, but once more his aim was untrue – that Telfer was in acres of space on the left with New York napping provided further annoyance.
Even the back-line was getting into the attacking action for TFC: Onkony first sprung Telfer, who cut in onto his right-foot, only to see his shot deflected wide for another corner, and then found space for a drive from range after a half-cleared corner fell to him, forcing a wonderful save from Red Bull keeper, Rafael Diaz.
As the match entered the final ten minutes, the desperation from both sides grew. New York conceded dangerous free-kicks in their haste and Toronto was more and more desperate to make something of them.
A deep delivery from Daniels in the 82nd caused some panic when it was headed into the middle, but Diaz was able to collect. And after Hundal was dumped, Camargo flung a ball into the area that led to a minor scramble before being cleared.
John would find a pair of looks as the clock ticked down, first by charging into the area from the left, by-passing a few defenders with some nifty footwork to win yet another corner. And then in the 89th minute when he got the better of Schmoll for a glorious chance, only to slip as he shot, sailing his right-footer well over.
In stoppage-time, TFC II would have one last chance from a 92nd minute corner kick, Camargo's delivery falling to Taintor at the back-post, but he was not able to get it back into the mixer as the opportunity fizzled.
New York would hold on for the 1-0 victory, ending a three-match losing streak for their part, on the strength of that first half strike.
The Young Reds have precious little time to lick their wounds as they must brace for two more road fixtures in short order. On Wednesday they return to New York state for a date with the Rochester Rhinos before heading to Ottawa for the third and final meeting with the Fury of this regular season.
NYRB II – Vincent Bezecourt (Junior Flemmings) 27’
TFC II – Mitchell Taintor (Caution) 53’
NYRB II - Andrew Tinari (Caution) 55’
|Toronto FC II||New York Red Bulls II|
|Toronto FC II||New York Red Bulls II|
|Shots – 10||Shots – 14|
|Shots on Target – 2||Shots on Target – 7|
|Blocked Shots – 4||Blocked Shots – 3|
|Possession – 47.4%||Possession – 52.6 %|
Toronto FC II – Mark Pais; Julian Dunn, Mitchell Taintor©, Brandon Aubrey (Brandon Onkony 45’); Jordan McCrary, Liam Fraser, Brian James (Ricardo John 67’), Ryan Telfer; Sergio Camargo, Aikim Andrews (Shaan Hundal 45’ + 1’), Aidan Daniels
Substitutes Not Used: Angelo Cavalluzzo, Anthony Osorio, Dante Campbell, Malik Johnson
New York Red Bulls II – Rafael Diaz©; Ethan Cutler, Noah Powder, Timothy Schmoll, Jordan Scarlett; Andrew Tinari (Kazuyoshi Shigenobu 63’), David Najem (David Abidor 75’), Vincent Bezecourt; Junior Flemmings, Florian Valot, Zeiko Lewis (Stefano Bonomo 72’)
Substitutes Not Used: Evan Louro, Jordan Bailon, Andrew Lombard, Zaire Bartley
Toronto FC II (W-L-D): 3-10-5 14pts.
New York Red Bulls II (W-L-D): 7-10-3 24pts.