Toronto FC continued their strong start to the season on Wednesday afternoon, beating North Texas SC 3-2 at the BMO Training Ground.
Coming into this game as the only unbeaten team in USL League One this season, North Texas had 6 wins and a draw in their seven previous games. Toronto FC II knew this would be a tough game, but got off to a great start.
After a Toronto FC II corner in the 12th minute, Julian Dunn picked up the ball and ran toward the goal line before crossing it across the face of the goal. The North Texas goalkeeper managed to get a touch on the ball, but couldn’t get it out of harm’s way, and it fell for Patrick Bunk-Andersen, who headed it home from a yard out.
The CB to CB connection!@TheJulianDunn ➡️ @palle_bunk #TFCLive // #TORvNTX // 1-0 pic.twitter.com/v7BcwLyRII— Toronto FC II (@TorontoFCII) May 29, 2019
"It's always fun to stay up after the rebound of a corner kick or something," said Bunk-Andersen after the match. "All credit to [Julian Dunn] to put that chance up, get it in... It came down and was just an easy tap in. Most of the credit for [Dunn] to just get it in there."
In the 23rd minute, North Texas’ teenage sensation Ricardo Pepi ran through the middle of the TFC II defence, and after Julian Dunn missed his attempt to volley the ball clear, Pepi was in alone on goal. From the edge of the penalty area, he curled it around goalkeeper Kevin Silva, but for the second game in a row, the equalizer hit the post.
23' @Ricardo_Pepi9 nearly ties the game but his shot rebounds off the post!#TORvNTX pic.twitter.com/Ay8VrP4gbG— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) May 29, 2019
Moments later, Toronto FC II scored a second goal, doubling their lead. Jacob Shaffelburg pounced on a North Texas defender and stole the ball before playing it forward to Matthew Srbely. Srbely took a touch before taking a low shot that went under goalkeeper Carlos Avilez and into the goal. It was his first goal of the season.
Swipaaaa #TFCLive // #TORvNTX // 2-0 pic.twitter.com/hG4dwvQfH4— Toronto FC II (@TorontoFCII) May 29, 2019
Pepi would score in the dying moments of the half, scoring his league-leading sixth goal of the season. The 16-year-old, who's scoring more than a goal a game (now 6 in 5), got on the end of a through ball before firing the ball into the top right corner.
45' GOALLLL @Ricardo_Pepi9 scores his 6th goal of the season to bring us within 1 just before the halftime whistle!— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) May 29, 2019
After the break, North Texas equalized through Ronaldo Damus. After Arturo Rodríguez dribbled around a few TFC II defenders and took a shot, Damus chipped the rebound over a rushing Kevin Silva before firing it into the back of the net.
56' GOOOAAALLL!!— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) May 29, 2019
Ronaldo Damus levels the game after some good work from @aartur98!!
Kevin Silva made a few excellent saves on his way to a second consecutive man-of-the-match performance, preventing a bunch of North Texas scoring chances, including this one in the 65th minute:
65' David Rodriguez finds his older brother @aartur98— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) May 29, 2019
but his shot is saved!#TORvNTX pic.twitter.com/1intuT5Sw3
In the 77th minute, TFC II finally found a breakthrough. When he saw left-back Terique Mohammed sprinting between the North Texas defenders, Jacob Shaffelburg lobbed the ball over the back line. Mohammed ran onto the ball, and volleyed it into the net for the winning goal, sealing a 3-2 victory.
That Ball— Toronto FC II (@TorontoFCII) May 29, 2019
That Finish #TFCLive // #TORvNTX // 3-2 pic.twitter.com/KO9AYeIQMx
At halftime, Jelani Peters, who hadn’t played since injuring himself in a game in May 2017, was brought on to replace Julian Dunn. Two years, 10 days and plenty of hard work later, he looked solid in his 45 or so minutes in this one, successfully completing 78.3% of his passes, making 4 clearances, as well as two interceptions.
Also in TFC II-related news, midfielder Noble Okello has been named to John Herdman’s camp for the 2019 Gold Cup. Perhaps a surprising inclusion, WTR’s Mitchell Tierney has a theory as to why he’s been called up:
I like the inclusion of Noble Okello, not just because I rate him highly. This is also one of the last chances to get into a camp with Atiba Hutchinson, who is a perfect role-model for Okello’s game. #TFClive #CanMNT— Mitchell Tierney (@mitchelltierney) May 30, 2019
With the win, TFC II (4-3-1) move into third place in the USL League One standings, with 13 points in 8 games. It is the best start in Toronto FC II history, and the first time that they’ve won back to back games.
Up next for the Young Reds is a game against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC on Saturday.
Many thanks to Lucas Kschischang for providing us with Toronto FC II photos. Make sure you follow him on Instagram and Twitter!