TORONTO, Canada—Toronto FC spent the majority of their night in Harrison, NJ without the ball, but when it counted most, talisman Alejandro Pozuelo delivered a familiar result from a familiar spot.
The Reds were coming off an 88th minute draw to the hands of DC United, and for long stretches of last night’s match, there was reason to believe no better fate would await them on Wednesday. But Pozuelo turned one point into three in the 90th minute when he converted from the penalty spot (with no help from his friends).
The night began with the Starting XI, and milestones for a couple Toronto FC players.
Chris Mavinga became just the 12th Red to feature in 100 competitive matches for the club; Jozy Altidore became just the 6th to feature in 150.
It was a debut for Tony Gallacher, the young Scottish defender on loan from Liverpool FC. Gallacher became the 220th Red to take the field in club history, and I believe just the second from Scotland (shoutout Steven Caldwell!)
It also marked just the second match of the season for Alex Bono, who tossed a shutout in the final MLS is Back Group Stage match against the New England Revolution.
The “home team” kept 59 per cent possession throughout the match, and it was clear from an early stage that TFC would need to rely heavily on Bono, who ended up answering all eight questions that were asked of him for a second straight clean sheet.
It was the 28th clean sheet of Bono’s TFC career, which now ties him with Stefan Frei atop the club’s all-time list.
Tonight @Alex25Bono has tied the all-time @TorontoFC record with his 28th clean sheet. Congrats Alex! #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @KristianJack pic.twitter.com/F64kTxOhNX— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) September 24, 2020
The Reds had a glorious chance to leave town with more points than they perhaps deserved, but Omar Gonzalez’s open header from a free kick was too short-sided for even the short side post.
In the 88th minute, New York City FC earned a caution and Toronto was rewarded with a penalty when a Justin Morrow shot from outside the box found Nicolás Acevedo’s twisting-yet-still-outstretched arm inside of the area.
The almost-sure-thing Pozuelo stepped up to take the kick. Pozuelo had scored THREE penalties against Sean Johnson already in a season and a half in the league. But this was the first attempt since the last non-attempt against Montreal, and I’m sure some Reds fans were wondering if there would be a surprise entrance on stage right.
The 90th minute begged for simplicity, and Pozeulo answered, putting the visitors on the board, in the points, and back in T-2nd place in the Eastern Conference standings.
Pozuelo has now converted 9 of 10 from the penalty spot during matches (10 of 11 if we include the 2019 Voyageurs Cup shootout). He is just 2 goals behind Sebastian Giovinco for the club lead, with 5 fewer squandered opportunities.
And of course, @Pozuelo_10 continues to cement his record effectiveness for @TorontoFC from the spot (9 of 10 in game play, 10 of 11 including shootout) #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @KristianJack pic.twitter.com/smUH5tzg8I— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) September 24, 2020
Sean Johnson, on the other hand, has now stopped only 1 of 7 attempts by Toronto FC players—also a testament to the sheer number of infractions committed by the men in sky blue.
Johnson has allowed twice as many as any other keeper, and has actually allowed more than any other team in the past 14 seasons. Vancouver has conceded five TFC goals from the spot throughout the years.
The late DC United draw earlier this week was the 50th time that Toronto FC have turned a win into a draw, or a draw into a loss in the 85th minute or beyond.
.@TorontoFC have played 536 competitive matches. They have now yielded a result in the 85'+ on FIFTY occasions.— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) September 20, 2020
9.3% of all #TFCLive matches have ended in late game concessions. @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke pic.twitter.com/jAktev5inW
But last night’s win was the 33rd time that they’ve secured more points in the same last five minutes!
The shoe is on the other foot!!— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) September 24, 2020
Tonight was the 33rd time in @TorontoFC history that they've earned a result (or improved their result) in the 85' or beyond #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @KristianJack pic.twitter.com/H5ctm1XHcQ
And finally, it was the 55th time that the club has found the back of the net in the 90th and beyond, and already the third time that Pozuelo has found his name written so late on the scoresheet.
This was the 55th time that @TorontoFC have scored in the 90' or beyond (including Extra Time). @Pozuelo_10 joins the group of 6 players that have notched at least 3 of these beauties. #TFCLive @WakingtheRed @vocalminorityCA @24thminute @joshuakloke @KristianJack pic.twitter.com/dqiqZZGIWq— Martyn Bailey (@martyn_bailey) September 24, 2020