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Toronto FC II 0-0 New York Red Bulls II: Young Reds earn a point at home

TFC II took to the choppy pitch at BMO and played to a scoreless draw.

Robin Glover

Toronto FC II’s man of the match was goalie Caleb Patterson-Sewell, who earned the shutout. The strategy of giving him a turn makes sense as he had spent time with the New York Red Bulls academy. Some tweets and news I’ve come across showed that he was down in Mexico last week with the MLS team, I’ll assume for shooting practice. He made a game-saving penalty stop at 60 minutes on NYRB II’s Stefano Bonomo, sprawling correctly to push the ball wide left of the post. He had a quieter evening than Angelo Cavalluzzo usually has with only one other save to make. Maybe the only trouble Patterson-Sewell had was in the second half he punted ball after ball into the wind and the balls didn’t even make the center line. Wave after wave of NYRB rushers swarmed back into their end for about the last 15 minutes of the game.

Referee Silviu Petrescu gave out six yellow cards (three to each team) and except for the one penalty call, waived off other shouts for each team that looked pretty lame. TFC II were called offside seven times and NYRB four. The most crucial call though was at 36 minutes when NYRB II’s Amando Moreno looked like he scored on a diving header at 5 yards from a cross, but a combination of the TFC goalie, assistant referee Melissa Sneddon, and Petrescu figured out it was a hand ball and he gave out a yellow card to Moreno and awarded TFC II a free kick.

I was pleased with the defensive play of TFC II’s Brandon Onkony. He prevented a few shots with blocks and a few with poke checks. It was a great comeback from him being credited with an own-goal in their last game that broke the tie against Richmond on Wednesday night. If the goal hadn’t deflected off him it would have hit a Richmond player and gone in anyway. Julian Dunn-Johnson also played well on defence after being roasted by fans for his play in the MLS game when the team used all second stringers last week against Houston.

I was disappointed by TFC II’s midfielder Mariano Mino after he played so well in their home opener against North Carolina FC. There were long stretchers where I didn’t notice him even touching the ball. He was the player called for a trip from behind on Amando Moreno, which gave the visitors their penalty. He also took a silly yellow card for picking up the ball and throwing it back down right in front of the referee after NYRB II were awarded a free kick 45 yards from goal.

And TFC II forward Ben Spencer? He had a tough job being the lone forward in a hold-up role. Any attempt to do a run forward himself would result in being caught as he is slow. He had one good chance early when Aidan Daniels sent in a corner kick from the right and he twisted a 10-yard header up the middle straight forward for the goalie to catch on the bounce. Spencer survived until 87 minutes when he was injured and Ayo Akinola was brought in. Last year’s star teenage forward Shaan Hundal was at the game but didn’t even make the bench tonight.

Scott Levene earned the shutout for NYRB II. He had three stops to make.

Attendance was officially listed on as 117. This game started after the TFC vs. Chicago game finished with a 2-2 draw in front of a crowd of 26331. I think MLSE would have been pleased to hold onto even 5 or 10% of the fans. The day had been cold but the rain had stopped during the MLS game warm-ups and did not return. They asked people to come to the east side stands and invited people to the spend time in the north side to pose with the MLS Cup trophy and TFC player Eriq Zavaleta.

Fans were sitting in the East but were told by ushers to leave and enter again through the gates so they could clean the stands. That, I’m sure, convinced some people to follow those instructions and just continue on their way home. Of the people who did stay, about a quarter of them were cheering at odd moments and it took a few minutes for me to realize they were parents cheering for the ball girls tossing a spare ball to a player if a ball went out of play.

There were no unused TFC players from this afternoon’s game dragged back to the USL match. Ryan Telfer would have been the only one I might expect.

TFC II’s record improves to 0-4-2 for two points and they stay in 15h of the 16 Eastern Conference teams. They have never beaten NYRB II in eight tries and this was their second ever draw against them.

They have now played two home games and both ended in 0-0 draws. Once again, just like against North Carolina FC, they get to soften them up because the visitor’s next game is away to Ottawa Fury who are sixteenth in the standings. A ‘home game’ against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was moved to Pittsburgh on about three days’ notice because of poor field conditions when the MLS team was in their CCL run.

NYRB II’s record improves to 3-1-3 for 12 points. That’s good for a three-way tie for second place with not all this weekend’s games played yet. They won the USL Championship in 2016 and made it to the Eastern Final last year. Among MLS ‘II’ teams that’s almost a generation of players ago because of trades, transfers, and promotions to the main team.

TFC II’s next game is on Saturday, May 5 — a “home” game against Pittsburgh (again!), but this one was always scheduled to be in their second home this year — Capelli Sports Stadium in Rochester, New York. Their next game after that is Wednesday, May 9 here at BMO Field against Penn FC (previously known as Harrisburg City Islanders). That game should draw thousands! Why? Because it’s played at 11 a.m. and if they have arranged it like previous years when it was up at Ontario Soccer Centre they would draw 1200 to 1500 school children. Could the big city’s downtown stadium double that? Stay tuned.