Toronto FC II are back in action on Saturday, part of the double-header at BMO Field, as they have a rematch against New York Red Bulls II following the first team’s encounter with the Chicago Fire – kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
Having collected their first point of the season against North Carolina FC, TFC II were hoping to build off that result when they travelled to Richmond on Wednesday. It was not to be, despite a solid defensive start and nabbing the first goal through Aidan Daniels, as the Kickers responded immediately and took the win off an own-goal in the second half.
Still there were “positives” to be taken, according to assistant coach Chris Pozniak and goalkeeper Angelo Cavalluzzo.
“We executed the tactics we wanted for the majority of game,” said Pozniak on Friday. “We scored a great goal off it. Disappointed with the goal conceded immediately after and a few errors leading up to the second goal.”
Said Cavalluzzo: “The game plan was to be defending in our own half and when we had our shape it was great. It was once we got stretched, we lost balls in higher areas and didn’t get back into shape quick enough. That’s where they found spaces to exploit us.”
“It’s frustrating to let go of that lead and concede goals that we would like to have back: we could have done better on both, in terms of recovery and winning the ball,” added Cavalluzzo. “It comes down to our ability on the ball. We know what needs to be done to fix those mistakes.”
The lessons from that match and those that came before will be reinforced in training. That the side has been able to find some regularity in their starting eleven helps as well.
In the last two matches, a defensive core has been established with Cavalluzzo in goal; Robert Boskovic and Rocco Romeo in central defense, with Brandon Onkony and Kyle Bjornethun either side; Gideon Waja and Noble Okello at the base of midfield.
“We’ve been able to get the same defenders and keeper together, to have a little consistency there,” noted Pozniak. “They’re working on building a relationship, playing better each game.”
The defeat in Richmond also saw two more young players garner minutes for TFC II with Steffan Yeates starting and Luca Petrasso coming on late.
“Both born in 2000, come through the Academy,” explained Pozniak. “Yeates: two-way midfield player, showed no fear in his debut, was one of the better performers. Petrasso is a versatile player. We’ve utilized him at left-back, left-wing, as an attacking midfielder. He’s got a very good left-foot, very good attacking tendencies.”
The side will have a chance to put the memories of midweek behind them quickly, as they face New York on Saturday. It will also provide a chance at some revenge for the opening day 2-1 defeat at Red Bull Arena.
New York Red Bull II currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points from six matches with three wins and two draws. Their only loss was a 3-1 away to Atlanta United in the second week of the season. They are, however, winless on their travels, with two draws and the aforementioned loss.
New York enter the match off the back of a 1-1 draw away to LA Galaxy II on Sunday.
They are an opponent that TFC II knows well.
“We know what to expect from Red Bull,” said Pozniak. “They have a clear club policy on how they play: high press, a lot of crosses, and a high tempo.”
Added Cavalluzzo: “Same as always, high press, high line, lots of space in behind them.”
The key to exploiting them?
“Fight that midfield battle, bypass their midfield, get the ball into the depth,” detailed Cavalluzzo. “Chase and get behind them.”
The match is schedule for 6:30 p.m. and though readers are highly encouraged to come out and support the Young Reds it will be streamed live on YouTube.
A victory on Saturday would be particularly sweet, not just for the first win and the accompanying three points, but because through seven meetings all-time, TFC II have never beaten Red Bulls II.
“We haven’t beaten them yet, in three years,” noted Pozniak. “It’s one on our checklist.”