11’ Toronto FC II 0-1 Atlanta United 2 [Lagos Kunga] — TFC’s Noble Okello Ayo on right near center line receives back pass and surrounded by two AU players rolls pass back towards Lars Eckenrode at 40 yard line. Kunga charges forward to intercept and keeps on until repositioning himself near edge of box with Eckenrode now getting in front of him. Kunga stops with players of both teams running to edge of box and rolls screened shot from 12 yards on left behind Eckenrode into right corner of net with goalie Caleb Patterson-Sewell frozen at six yards.
45’ — Atlanta’s Tyler Ruthven earn a red card for retaliating against Terique Mohammed.
Mohammed had dribbled from the left cornerflag to the edge of the AU box and was squeezed by the check of Gallagher and Kevin Barajis and couldn’t draw a penalty. Mohammed got up and bodychecked Jon Gallagher who had just got away a clearance kick. Referee Pierre-Luc Lauziere blew his whistle immediately to stop play but Ruthven came over and put his hand in Mohammed’s face who then went down. Sorting this out included the nearby referee’s assistant and fourth official’s opinions meant that the one minute added became four.
51’ Toronto FC II 0-2 Atlanta United 2 [Lagos Kunga] — Kunga on right sideline at AU 50 yard line receives a pass upfield from Jon Gallagher and turns on Noble Okello and races upfield and at 25 yard line cuts towards centre cutting in on defender Robert Boskovic. He holds up shot then fires from 15 yards between Ekenrode and Okello and into middle of net over flying goalie.
92’ Toronto FC II 1-2 Atlanta United 2 [Matthew Srbely] — Tsubasa Endoh chips ball from 50 yard line on right all the way to Andrew Kendall-Moullin who had run in front of Eckenrode and Ayo Akinola and headed the ball from 5 yards on left post but straight back to Srbely who rolled 12 yarder up middle to center of net past sprawling goalie Paul Christensen.
Final Score: Toronto FC II 1-2 Atlanta United 2
Attendance wasn’t announced but the uslsoccer.com site listed it as 196 on this warm night with the blinding setting sun down just before the game started. Another disappointing crowd as it turns out there were 7557 fans here the next afternoon for a Toronto Wolfpack game3. One factor may have been with the CNE running just the other side of the railway tracks, parking is about impossible.
Man of the Match for TFC II was goalie Caleb Patterson-Sewell who had to make a few spectacular saves in the first half to keep them in the game. I will say it is quite possible the decision was made before Srbely’s goal to give the sponsor enough time to prepare. Srbely had enough chances to win the game on his own.
“We came out flat and when they took thered card we didn’t take advantage of it like we should have,” said Srbely after the game. “It’s just a learning experience. When they sat back like that it’s difficult to find pockets of space... so we have to get creative”.
Tonight was a battle of young teams with just TFC II players and none of their MLS roster ‘dropping down’ to stay in game fitness (frequently used Jordan Hamilton and Liam Fraser were both flown out to Portland for Wednesday night’s game). I’ll trust the Atlanta website for doing the math correctly, averaging the players’ ages as 20.7 for TFC II and 21.7 for AU2.
It was a mistake by the 30-year-old defender Tyler Ruthven for running across field and retaliating on the knock down at the end of the first half. It’s always the third man in who will be dealt with most severely. He had signed for the team just two weeks earlier after playing last year with Miami FC of the NASL.
TFC had to make an early adjustment when defender Tim Kubel was injured at just 6 minutes and fell behind the end line so play wasn’t stopped after the resulting free kick and it took until 10 minutes to get Gideon Waja stretched and ready.
The game wasn’t actually rough. The halftime dust-up resulted in the only cards of the game including the next minute when Okello pushed a player after a whistle.
Tsubasa Endoh took all the free kicks and corners in the game. He had scored three goals in the last two games so I could see why. I felt a bit of variety would have helped. Finally after taking a corner at 87 minutes and the ball going out the other side, Mohammed took one that resulted in one of their best scoring chances up to that point.
When asked after the game about playing up a man for the second half, TFC II head coach Michael Rabasca said he told his players to not get desperate, and keep it simple.
“We became a little impatient at times,” he said. “Our youth shone through maybe trying to score two. We have to score a goal at a time. We just needed one and then there would have been more pressure on them.”
Kunga gave his own team a huge shot of confidence with that insurance goal at 51 minutes, his second of the night scored with individual brilliance. Atlanta didn’t change their game play including confident back passes and didn’t resort to punting it upfield until the last 15 minutes.
I was somewhat surprised at the result. TFC II had won their first road game of the year 4-1 over the 2017 champions Louisville City in a rescheduled game on Tuesday night. I was thinking they would be able to build on that after winning three of their last six games (their only wins of the season). Atlanta had also only won three games this season and hadn’t won in seven games. TFC had the entire second half with a man advantage which I thought they would exploit even though behind by a goal.
TFC II’s record falls to 3-19-3 for 12 points and they are in 16th place, last in the East and are the first team to be officially eliminated from playoff contention (now that other weekend results are known) by the sportsclubstats.com site.
Atlanta improves to 4-13-8 for 20 points and are one spot above TFC II. Both teams have a goal differential of -27.
TFC II’s next game is against Ottawa Fury on Thursday night at 8 p.m. here at the renovated Lamport Stadium where the team will play the rest of their home games after playing at five different venues. I just wish they could spend a few more dollars on replacing a few broken light bulbs on the scoreboard.
A rescheduling glitch has these two teams meeting twice this month in Toronto with a desperate Fury ducking above and below the playoff line.