Toronto FC II snapped a three game losing skid on Friday afternoon, picking up a 1-0 victory against FC Tucson in their first home game of the season.
After a quiet 30 minutes to start the match, TFC II finally broke the deadlock in the 37th minute. Jordan Perruzza, who hadn’t seen a ton of the ball up to that point, burst through the middle of the pitch before splitting two defenders with a pass for Jacob Shaffelburg. Shaffelburg ran onto the ball and chipped the ball back across the box for Perruzza, who headed the ball into the top right corner.
“I’m very pleased,” said TFC II Head Coach Michael Rabasca of the header. “It’s not a typical goal for Jordan, we don’t see him score a lot of goals with his head, so this will be good moving forward for him to continue to encourage that type of play.”
In the 53rd minute, a Jacob Shaffelburg pass sent Jordan Perruzza running toward the Tucson goal, but goalkeeper Philip Ejimadu came running out to try and collect the ball, upending Perruzza in the process. He appeared to land on his shoulder, and was on the ground receiving treatment for a few minutes, and was forced to leave the game.
It looked as though Perruzza managed to get a touch on the ball before the goalkeeper got to it, which would imply it was a penalty, but the referee saw it otherwise and gave TFC II a throw in near the corner flag.
FC Tuscon’s best chance of the game came in the 73rd minute, when a shot from Jamael Cox crashed off the post. With his first touch, he curled one of the right post, keeping TFC II’s lead alive.
TFC II had plenty of chances to double their lead, but couldn’t capitalize on any of them. Jacob Shaffelburg had what was perhaps the best chance to put the game to bed in the 93rd minute, after outworking a Tuscon defender to run down a lengthy pass from Griffin Dorsey and go in alone on goal, but Ejimadu stood tall and saved the shot.
Perruzza’s goal would be all they needed in the end, as the Young Reds sat back and closed the game out.
“It was good to get a clean sheet,” reflected Adolfo Ovalle, who wore the captain’s armband on the day. “We trained really hard to be all on the same page, defensively and offensively. I think we showed for the majority of the game that we were.
“We’re all happy to finally be playing at home. It’s been something we’ve been looking forward to since preseason, and we’re just happy we were able to get the first win.”
Up next for Toronto FC II is a game against North Texas SC on Wednesday afternoon. Currently sitting in first place, North Texas, who are the only team in USL League One who remain unbeaten, have six wins and a draw in their seven matches thus far.
The academy team for FC Dallas, they will be Toronto FC II’s biggest test thus far, but it’s a challenge that they’re up for.
“North Texas is a team we’ve been wanting to play,” said Ovalle. “We know how well they’ve done early on this season.”
“It’s good to get a win here but the win’s over. We have a quick turnaround and we really have to focus on North Texas. We know that it’s mostly FC Dallas players, it can be taken a bit more personal now that it’s academy vs academy. We know that when we play our best, we’re at the very top of this league, so we just gotta go out there and play our game.”
Head Coach Michael Rabasca echoed Ovalle’s sentiments.
“I think that North Texas represents a benchmark for us, in the sense that they’re an academy program similar to ours,” Rabasca said after the match. “I think our academy is at a very high standard. I think it should be measured as one of the best in North America, certainly in Canada and the U.S.”
“FC Dallas have one of the best youth programs in North America, and I think it would be nice to consider this game a bit of a benchmark for us, to see where we stand, where they stand in youth development, and in League One play.”