Toronto FC II took on the Richmond Kickers on Sunday evening, in a doubleheader after the first team’s 3-2 loss to New York City FC. Happily, the Young Reds pulled off a more favourable result for the home side, recording their first home win of the year by beating Richmond 1-0.
Jordan Hamilton, down with the USL side for the weekend, scored the goal from 15 yards out, receiving a great pass from fellow first-teamer Liam Fraser in the 47th minute.
Attendance wasn’t announced but was initially listed on the USL website as 425 than amended to 696. This was still quite a disappointment from the 27,935 who had been in BMO Field earlier to see the MLS game that had just ended 90 minutes earlier. TFC II haven’t played in Toronto since July 1, which was also a doubleheader with their MLS team playing first so that may have helped drop them off the radar.
Referee David Barrie gave out two yellow cards to each team including his first at 1 minute to TFC’s Kyle Bjornethun for a hard tackle which seemed to settle the game down. Only surpriseis that at 68 minutes he let Richmond’s Mallon Roberts (a Canadian on Richmond!) get away with a tackle from behind on Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton subbed off at 77 minutes and was wearing a fabric cast around his shin after the game.
Kickers almost scored at 2 minutes when Brian Shriver crossed from 30 yards on the right and the charging Luiz Fernando’s first-touch midair 8 yarder down the middle was chipped over the bar. The sixth minutes had TFC’s Liam Fraser recover a partial clearance and take a 25 yard shot up the middle, which the goalie palmed over the bar. RK’s Haviel Cordoves lunged at a 6-yard shot on a cross and hit the back post but outside the net at 12 minutes.
TFC midfielder Matthew Srbely was moved up to forward with Hamilton. He had a rough night with him deflecting a cross from Tim Kubel up the middle and wide right at 41 minutes. He forced the RK goalie to make two point blank saves on him at 15 yards then 6 yards at 58 minutes. He was not able to control Luca Uccello’s cross to him inside the RK box nor even keep it in bounds on the sideline after it got away at 65 minutes. Dante Campbell rushed down the left and centered him a pass and he shot wide right from 15 yards. He then drew a yellow card at 84 minutes. Better luck next game!
Caleb Patterson-Sewell earned the shutout for TFC II. I didn’t feel he had too much to do but the game was saved from being tied at 75 minutes when RK Brian Shriver rushed down the middle and rolled a shot past him at 12 yards, but the retreating Tim Kubel got a foot to the ball to deflect it wide right. Kubel was also up the field sending in some good crosses to help the offence.
TFC II head coach Michael Rabasca said after the game he was happy with the result after a long week of training and their performance was decent. Winning helps the mood and he was pleased with the USL guys in attack and creating chances, but they could have been sharper; it’s hard to integrate first team players brought into the team. Training for 30 hours a week helps avoid the mental fatigue that creeps into their game. It demands 90 minutes of attention. He said he was pleased with how the recently re-signed Tsubasa Endoh has a nice calming presence on the ball and he’s familiar with how they play and gives instructions to the players. He had a conversation with Jordan Hamilton at halftime about his performance and expectations and said Hamilton listens to feedback if it’s fair. Hamilton ran over to the bench after he scored.
After the game Hamilton said they put in a good team performance with a solid game plan and executed well after a slow start. He said the coach got into them at halftime and they had a point to prove. He switched it up in the second half by getting behind the defenders. I asked him about this performance and Liam Fraser’s getting them into the Wednesday Canadian Championship game (where TFC has to use at least three Canadian starters).
“Every time you get to play is an opportunity to show the first team you deserve and want to play... they watch every game,” he said. “Here (in the USL) it’s my job to provide leadership and score goals”.
When asked about leadership he said he uses USL games as a training exercise and it’s a common progression. “I want to be the main forward for the first team one day,” he said.
This was TFC II’s last game at BMO Field this season. After one more “home” game in Rochester NY the rest of their home schedule will be at Lamport Stadium. Rabasca told me that they are looking forward to the familiarity and not having to travel.
This was the first TFC II win in Toronto this season although they won once in Rochester (their other home) just two games ago — two wins in their last three games! Their record improves to 2-16-3 for 9 points. They are still 16th (last) in the Eastern Conference. They have a goal differential of -26 which is still worst in the league.
Richmond now have played their last four games without scoring and are now six games without a win, including five losses. Their season record is 5-14-3 for 18 points and a goal differential of -25.
TFC II next plays this Thursday in Rochester against Bethlehem Steel FC and then have two rescheduled road games August 22 and 28 against Indy Eleven and Louisville City. They then start their Lamport stand on Friday August 31 against Atlanta United 2 (the current 15th-place team).
That completed a TFC triple-header for me as I caught TFC III in League 1 Ontario play at 11 a.m. the same day at Downsview. They lost to joint first place holders Sigma FC.