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Scoreless draw brings TFC II season to conclusion

The Young Reds drew 0-0 with Penn FC on Saturday in their final USL match

USL Photo - Toronto FC II's Aidan Daniels battles for a ball in midfield against Penn FC in the 0-0 draw between the sides that ended the 2018 USL season for both
TFC II's Aidan Daniels battles for a ball against Penn in a scoreless draw on Saturday night in their USL finale
Penn FC

Toronto FC II saw their 2018 USL season come to an end on Saturday night with a scoreless draw with Penn FC at FNB Field in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The match was a spirited affair even though it was a dead-rubber with both sides already eliminated from post-season contention.

Michael Rabasca made a handful of changes from the XI that drew 2-2 midweek in Nashville. Most of the defensive unit was unchanged with Caleb Patterson-Sewell, fresh off his heroics on Tuesday, remained in goal, while, from right to left, Tim Kubel, Kyle Bjornethun, and Robert Boskovic retained their spots, but Terique Mohammed came in at left-back for Ryan Telfer.

In midfield, Dante Campbell and Noble Okello stepped into the deep role occupied by Liam Fraser, while Aidan Daniels and Malik Johnson returned to the starting lineup in place of Tsubasa Endoh and Jon Bakero as part of the forward-facing three-man unit either side of Matt Srbely.

Up top, Jordan Perruzza, who had scored in the last two matches from the bench, got his first start replacing Jordan Hamilton and Ayo Akinola.

Penn FC came out of the gates quick, drawing a save from Patterson-Sewell inside the first minute. The Toronto keeper had to be sharp through the early passages, tipping a shot from Aaron Dennis over the bar in the 14th minute.

TFC II’s best look of the first half would come two minutes later with Perruzza managed to keep himself onside to latch onto a Srbely run and touch towards goal from a tight angle, but Penn defender Salvatore Barone was in position to clear the effort before it could cross the line.

As the game got a touch physical Perruzza was in the middle of the action, throwing himself into Barone in the 36th minute, drawing the ire of Tiago Calvano, who shoved him and then Okello. Both Perruzza and Calvano would see yellows for their part in the fray.

The physical battle would carry into the half-time break and continue come the second frame with Penn seeing another yellow before the whistle and Okello picking one up shortly after the restart.

Dennis would have a good look in the 52nd minute after some good passing found him in space at the top of the box, his attempt froze Patterson-Sewell, but went wide of the left-post. He would send one wide of the opposite post eight minutes later.

Five minutes after that, Johnson would surge into the Penn box past a couple of defenders, only to have the ball taken off his boot by Penn goalkeeper Romuald Peiser, leading to a scramble in the box with the keeper out of position. Mohammed would collect the loose ball, but his cross was cleared.

Rabasca would go to his bench in the 68th minute, replacing Perruzza with Akinola and seconds later, the striker would nearly create the first goal of the match, playing in Okello with a quick pass, but a heavy touch would see the chance dissipate.

Mohammed would have a strong run up the left-flank shortly thereafter, but his attempt lacked the precision required from an acute angle as the game opened up. Back at the other end, Dennis would do well to hold off the defence on a bouncing ball, making space and turning to get off a shot, but both Bjornethun and Patterson-Sewell were on hand to get in the block.

Luca Petrasso would replace Johnson in the 75th minute as he struggled with cramping and a minute later Lucky Mkosana couldn’t turn a sliding attempt in at the near-post after some good work from Dennis down the left-side of the box.

Akinola would get a look in the 78th when Kubel flung a ball into the area from the right, but he couldn’t get enough power in the stabbed attempt, which was saved easily. Penn would go right back towards the Toronto area with Dennis smashing a left-footed half-volley over the bar from some direct play.

TFC II would make their final substitution in the 84th minute, replacing Kubel with Shaan Hundal, but it was Penn who nearly found the game-winner in the 86th minute when Dennis, who was getting the sense he was snake-bit, hit the left-post with a right-footer from the top of the box after getting set up by Mkosana.

The late flurry of half chances would continue.

As stoppage-time began, Toronto would have a fast break with Akinola and Hundal tearing towards goal, but Akinola’s unselfish attempt to pick out his strike partner with a square ball would not connect, due to equal parts imprecision, good defensive positioning, and Hundal not holding his run quite enough.

And the match would close with one final chance as Srbely stepped in-field from the right, making space for a low left-footed drive that drew a good stop from the Penn keeper.

Both sides would have to settle for a point when the final whistle blew.

An archive of the match is available on YouTube.

And with that, the season is over.

TFC II will continue to train for the next few weeks and presumably roster decisions will be forthcoming as they prepare for the unknown with the move to USL League One next season.

Apologies for the delayed posting of the recap, was a heck of a week. Please leave any suggestions for future TFC II coverage in the comments section below.

Planning on using the off-season to go back over some of the stories, do some more player profiles and such, that were set aside during the rush of the schedule, but if there are questions readers would like answered, by all means ask away.