Toronto FC II return to the pitch on Wednesday night when they travel to Indianapolis to face Indy Eleven at Lucas Oil Stadium – kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
On the heels of a 2-0 loss to Bethlehem Steel FC last Thursday in the finale of their four-match home-away-from-home series in Rochester, Toronto are eager to get back on the pitch in search of their first road points of the season.
“It wasn’t our best performance,” admitted goalkeeping coach Phil Boerger on Monday. “Credit to Beth, they came out, they executed. In terms of our performance, some sloppy giveaways and things we’d like to have back, but we’ve had a good couple days of training here and we look forward to Indy.”
Midfielder Dante Campbell saw the positives in defeat.
“We didn’t get the three points, conceded late in the game, but there were a lot of positives,” said Campbell. “We created chances in the early moments, we’ve got to put them away.”
The 19-year-old Campbell is one of a plethora of young players who have looked at each appearance this season as a chance to further their progression. Primarily a right-back in his first taste of USL last year, Campbell has moved into the middle of the park where he has proven quite versatile.
Sound defensively, tireless in his pursuit of the ball, Campbell is looking to add even more to his growing portfolio of skills. Having appeared in fourteen matches, his 1042 minutes has him with the eighth most on the team.
“For me, it’s been decent; I’ve been developing,” assessed Campbell of his season. “My goal is becoming a key player for the team.”
“[I’ve] been helping out a lot: my defensive work, recovering the ball and whatnot,” continued Campbell. “Now it’s to add another step to my game: going forward, getting the ball in the attacking third and creating chances.”
Highlights are yet to emerge from the match which was not broadcast, so detailed analysis has proved difficult, but the picture that has emerged is that TFC II were able to survive Bethlehem’s pressure through the first sixty minute, only to concede twice in the later stages.
A trend that continued through that match was Michael Rabasca leaning more upon experienced hands rather than trotting out a side composed primarily of teenagers.
Of the starting XI, only five – Campbell, Robert Boskovic, Aidan Daniels, Matt Srbely, and Shaan Hundal – were 20 or younger.
Kyle Bjornethun (23), Tim Kubel (25), Lars Eckenrode (23), Gideon Waja (21), and Tsubasa Endoh (25) provided some additional solidity to the lineup, something USL requires, as shown by recent results, while goalkeeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell (31) was a calming veteran presence between the posts.
That stability is something that has been hard to come by throughout the season.
Over the course of 2018, TFC II has used some five different goalkeepers: Angelo Cavalluzzo, Drew Shephard, Caleb Patterson-Sewell, Gianluca Catalano, and Borja Angoitia. A sixth was on the bench for a handful of matches: Rimi Olatunji.
In part, that has been due to injury – Cavalluzzo’s Achilles suffered against Penn FC in May and Shephard’s broken nose against Ottawa Fury FC later that month. Catalano’s departure for college was a factor as well.
Boerger spoke in particular about the two veterans, Patterson-Sewell and the 26-year-old Angoitia, calling both “great additions” to the side.
“Caleb really helps our guys out, especially our young guys,” said Boerger of Patterson-Sewell. “A lot of experience. He’s got little stories from playing in Portugal, in England, Australia, that leadership presence helps overall.”
“He was busy against Bethlehem, came up with a number of good plays,” added Boerger. “We’re really glad that he’s with us.”
Of Angoitia, he said: “Another guy with experience, played in Spain; a different style of goalkeeping.”
“Valuable in terms of what information he is giving our guys as well,” continued Boerger. Angoitia has shown himself to be a very vocal member of the defensive unit, communicating constantly throughout matches as a goalkeeper needs to do.
“We have a great goalkeeping corps, great training environment, integrated with our first team and what Jon Conway is doing,” assessed Boerger. “We train everyday to get better, push each other.”
Worth noting, is that Jon Bakero has been added to the roster in the match notes.
Wednesday’s match will be the second and final meeting between TFC II and Indy this season. The first came on June 16, a 3-1 loss for TFC II in Rochester with former Red Justin Braun scoring twice after the sides exchanged goals midway through the first half.
Led by a familiar face, former Vancouver Whitecaps FC coach Martin Rennie, Indy come off the weekend in sixth-spot in the Eastern Conference on 36 points from 23 matches with a record of ten wins, seven losses, and six draws.
Unbeaten in four matches, alternating draws and wins, they earned a hard-fought road point on Saturday in Ottawa with a scoreless draw.
They have won their last two matches at Lucas Oil Stadium – yes, the massive NFL home of the Indianapolis Colts – most recently a 3-2 victory over North Carolina FC on August 15.
Rife with names familiar to long-time North American soccer fans, Jack McInerney leads the side with six goals in nineteen appearances, while Spanish defender Ayoze has four in eighteen. Soony Saad, formerly of Sporting KC, has four goals in twenty appearances.
Ayoze leads the side with five assists, Toronto will have to keep a close watch on him.
And there are a few Canadians in the side: Karl Ouimette and Tyler Pasher.
“Indy is a good side,” said Boerger. “We saw them in Rochester earlier in the year, didn’t get a result.”
“Another experienced team, guys who have been around the block, different leagues, guys who have been in MLS, played overseas,” continued Boerger. “They’re right above the playoffs line, they’re going to look to pick up points.”
“In terms of the venue, it’ll be fun for our guys to play at Lucas Oil Stadium,” noted Boerger. “It’s a big venue. They draw well, but it might seem empty. A new experience; new place to play for the guys. We’re looking forward to going down there; pick up some points.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the match is set to be streamed on YouTube:
Toronto closes the season with eight of their final twelve matches on the road: a daunting task.
“It’s tough, all these games on the road,” said Campbell. “[Indy] are a slow-paced team, like to put all eleven players behind the ball. We’ve got a game plan heading in: move the ball quick, bring tempo to the game; pick them out when we get our moments.”