Toronto FC II took on the Charleston Battery in USL action at BMO Field on Sunday, July 1.
57’ Toronto FC II 0-1 Charleston Battery [Ataulla Guerra] — O’Brian Woodbine crosses from near right corner flag and TFC’s Robert Boskovic bends down to chest ball in front of him six yards out and the ball goes through his legs and Guerra in centre blasts into top right side of net.
64’ Toronto FC II 0-2 Charleston Battery [Kotaro Higashi] — O’Brian Woodbine charges up right wing pursued by TFC defender Tim Kubel and cuts towards the middle. Five yards out on right he drops centering pass back to Higashi and he blasts a low shot between sprawling goalie Borja Angoitia and defender Julian Dunn-Johnson into centre of net.
81’ Toronto FC II 0-3 Charleston Battery [O’Brian Woodbine] — Taylor Mueller sends long chipped pass from his own half that has Woodbine recover and charge up right cutting into middle with Terique Mohammed chasing him. With a Charleston teammate charging into middle of six-yard box instead of passing he roofs an eight-yard shot from right into top right corner over goalie guarding that post.
91’ Toronto FC II 0-4 Charleston Battery [Gordon Wild] — Wild on right dribbles horizontally, eluding three defenders as he runs over to middle and shoots between two defenders and the ball hits foot of Julian Dunn-Johnson and pops up over goalie on left side of goal and drops into net.
Final Score: Toronto FC II 0-4 Charleston Battery
Attendance wasn’t announced but was published on the USL website at 422. This was quite a fall from the 26,363 at the MLS game before this but that was delayed from the time on the tickets because of FOX broadcasting the World Cup match before that went into extra time.
The USL game started just after 8 p.m. It was the hottest day on record this year in Toronto with a 43 degree temperature when the humidity was accounted for. I sit on the west side for the MLS game but an usher invited fans to sit on the shady east side. I certainly took up that offer but appeared to be one of the few takers. I was somewhat surprised that the crowd didn’t desert until the end — better than the MLS game emptying out at 80 minutes with TFC behind by only a 1-0 score.
TFC II’s Man of the Match was announced as midfielder Aiden Daniels. The obvious star of the game was Charleston’s O’Brian Woodbine, who set up the first two goals and scored the third all from near the same place. As if he knew he would be subbed out within the next minute, after his goal the Jamaican international did a backflip and drew a big round of applause.
I had come away from Wednesday’s game against first place FC Cincinnati where TFC II came from behind to score two goals and tie 3-3 with optimism. I had my doubts when I saw the MLS roster today. Heroes of the Wednesday game Jordan Hamilton, Ryan Telfer, and Liam Fraser were all back with the big club. There’s a huge skill difference between these players and the teenagers that make up the rest of their attack.
After the game captain Luca Uccello answered a question about sending the three players back.
“Everyone wants to play for the main team,” he said. “That’s everyone’s goal. The three guys against Cincinnati did a great job and the guys who fill in for them have to do as good a job if not better.”
He added that he hopes his day will come too.
I asked head coach Michael Rabasca if the constantly changing lineup was frustrating.
“Not a frustration at all, kudos to our group,” he said. “They played well enough against Cincinnati that Greg (Vanney) and the first team felt they could fit in with the group here...(we have) no trouble with that at all.”
TFC’s best chance was actually at 9’ when Malik Johnson ran to the left end line but had enough room to send a high cross over the goalie on the right post and Shaan Hundal couldn’t redirect in a one-yard header from the left post with teammate Aidan Daniels and defender Skylar Thomas also piling in to that confined space.
The Battery had more chances and their number 10 Ataulla Guerra was being set up much like we’d just seen Sebastian Giovinco in the TFC game. Fifteen minutes had him miss a six-yard tap-in, then he had Noble Okello block his six-yard shot in the same minute and the next minute he let a pass get through him and the TFC goalie dove out to smother the ball.
That all changed when after a long spell of being invisible, he scored in the second half pouncing on an error by defender Robert Boskovic for the first goal. Boskovic tried to chest the ball down by ducking and it went through his legs and he jabbed out his leg as Guerra got to it so in effect he did the splits while already down then face-planted when he saw the Trinidadian score. Might as well have him face-plant in a birthday cake because this was his special day. Canada Day too! I saw that the USL website had updated his country to CANADA from the U.S. within two days of sending them an e-mail and the Wikipedia bio link. I graduated from his school, Ryerson, before he was born.
The Battery had come into today’s game winless in their last six games although five of them were ties.
They were strong defensively with a former TFC II player Skylar Thomas clearing the left side, captain Taylor Mueller plugging up the middle including some takeaways from behind in the box, and Neveal Hackshaw with stops on the right followed by long runs up the wing. Thomas was named to the USL Team of the Week the week before for their scoreless tie against Pittsburgh.
Joe Kuzminsky earned the shutout for the visitors. He didn’t have many shots but his positioning was perfect and he barely had to move. Even these saves were more about preserving the shutout then saving the game.
TFC II’s record falls to 0-13-3 for 3 points and they are all alone in 16th place. Charleston improves to 6-3-7 for 25 points and because yesterday was the only game in the Eastern Conference game scheduled, they slingshot from a tie for eighth place (last playoff spot) to a tie for fifth.
TFC II now go on an extended road trip with no “home game” not until July 28, and that is in Rochester. Next game actually in Toronto will be Saturday August 12 at 7:30 p.m. at BMO Field an hour after the end of the New York City FC MLS game.
Also, breaking news: a July 2 news release from the USL announced that the rumour was true... TFC II will drop to the USL Division 3 next season. While other MLS ‘2’ and ‘II’ teams are expected to join them, right now the hardly glamorous teams are Statesboro, Georgia; Tucson, Arizona; Greenville, South Carolina; and Madison, Wisconsin. Well attendance can hardly drop any more than it is now. This gives the standalone teams a chance to impress. The excellent attendance of Cincinnati got them fast tracked to an MLS start next season before previously awarded franchises.