Toronto FC II finally took the pitch at Lamport Stadium on Wednesday to take on FC Cincinnati. Here’s how it went down.
6’ Toronto FC II 0-1 FC Cincinnati [Nazmi Albadawi] — Emmanuel Ledesma pushes TFC’s Dante Campbell aside near left end line and sends low 15 yard centering pass to middle where Albadawi blasts low 8 yard shot forward past sprawling goalie Borja Angoitia.
27’ Toronto FC II 1-1 FC Cincinnati [Ayo Akinola] — Dante Campbell crosses from 22 yards on right and Akinola near left post heads from five yards just under bar past goalie Evan Newton.
37’ Toronto FC II 1-2 FC Cincinnati [Emery Welshman] — Nazmi Albadawi runs downfield to get to long freekick and stops ball at 5 yard line in midair on right and cuts around TFC Robert Boskovic and rolls centering pass for charging Welshman to shoot low 12 yarder into right side of net.
39’ Toronto FC II 1-3 FC Cincinnati [Emmanuel Ledesma] — Emery Welshman dribbles upfield from centre line and sends low cross from right to Ledesma who blasts 20 yard shot from left over leaping goalie at 6 yards and into right corner of net.
69’ Toronto FC II 2-3 FC Cincinnati [Robert Boskovic] — Ryan Telfer takes a 22-yard free kick from right edge of box and Boskovic leaps in front of crowd of players in middle of box and heads into left side of net.
74’ Toronto FC II 3-3 FC Cincinnati [Jordan Hamilton] — Steven Yeates near left edge of box sends in low cross and Hamilton connects after one bounce on scissor kick from 12 yards into top right side of net.
Final Score: Toronto FC II 3-3 FC Cincinnati
Attendance was not announced but was listed on the USL website as 288. This game was played at Lamport Stadium after being rescheduled from BMO Field within the last few weeks — it’s only a few blocks north of the MLS stadium anyway. The stadium field has had new field turf installed and a few rugby games played on it. I found the lines on the field somewhat confusing; there were multi-coloured lines marking boundaries for rugby, soccer, and field hockey. At the one minute mark a TFC II throw-in was called back as it must have been taken at the wrong coloured line.
Should I use the excuse that a pre-game rain scared all the downtown fans away? It had long stopped and only the seats were wet. Last season’s game against FC Cincinnati at Ontario Soccer Centre had 1119 and that was in pouring rain. It’s possible tonight that up to a quarter of the fans were cheering the visitors including friends and relatives of Emery Welshman, who was born in Mississauga and was drafted by TFC in 2013.
Man of the Match was Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton answered after the game that “this stadium is very nostalgic for me because as a ten year old boy I watched my brother play for the academy... and then eventually I played my first game for the senior academy here back in the CSL days so it feels good to be back at Lamport.”
TFC II were aided by the return of three players who had moved up to fill injury spots for the MLS team. Ryan Telfer was a halftime sub and had some good runs up the wing, corner kicks and crosses and was even allowed to take a free kick that aided the comeback. Liam Fraser (tonight’s captain) was back in the midfield and dropped to defence when needed (he really has taken on the Michael Bradley role).
Jordan Hamilton seemed to awaken in the second half with the excellent goal and then an 85th-minute chance when Telfer’s corner from the right had him leaning backwards to head it off the left post. New head coach Michael Rabasca said that bringing back the MLS guys has really helped, since many of them have played USL on their way up.
“Showing the pathway is great for them,” he said.
A reminder that while things haven't worked out for Jordan Hamilton this season with the big club, the Canadian still has an incredible amount of talent. What a goal tonight for Toronto FC II. pic.twitter.com/vtBEPGkzHk— Mitchell Tierney (@mitchelltierney) June 28, 2018
18 year old midfielder Steffan Yeates came in at 70 minutes to play in his third USL game and had the assist on Hamilton’s goal. He played with TFC III on the weekend and I was told he was on his way to University of Connecticut (along with goalie Gianluca Catalano). Tonight’s 17-year-old backup keeper Rimi Olatunji is scheduled to leave for Providence College. Nice farewells!
This was the third game in charge for Rabasca. He said after the game “I feel our team is good enough... and they needed to be reminded at halftime, they weren’t playing with confidence, nor aggression, nor courage that we expect.”
“We were the better team tonight,” he added.
Rabasca also said they were pushing to win and that’s a reason he brought on attacker Shaan Hundal at 77 minutes. I would say from 65 minutes onward it was all one-way TFC traffic.
TFC II’s record improves to 0 wins, 12 losses, 3 ties and they are still in 16th place. FC Cincinnati moves to 9 wins, 3 losses, 4 ties for 31 points and remain in first place (which makes tonight’s result all the more impressive).
FC Cincinnati have been fast-tracked to start play in the MLS Eastern Conference next season jumping ahead of Nashville and Miami. They will need to have a much stronger roster to survive. They are stronger than last year but look like they were put together from a fire sale of “on hiatus” NASL rosters. Emery Welshman played for Puerto Rico last year, Emmanuel Ledesma was with the New York Cosmos, and Richie Ryan played for Ottawa Fury in 2014 and 2015 then two more NASL teams the last two years.
TFC II don’t have too long to wait for their next game. That’s Sunday July 1, and it will be back at BMO Field one hour after the TFC vs New York Red Bulls game when they play Charleston Battery.
My personal Canada Day project... let’s get the USL website to correct Robert Boskovic’s listing to nationality: Canadian. He was born in Mississauga. Can’t be more Canadian than being born July 1. I sent an email today!