TORONTO, CANADA - When Toronto FC II planned out their season, it is unlikely they had one win in six games in their itinerary. However, after three weeks and two stadiums, that is exactly where they find themselves.
On Wednesday night, the Young Reds suffered their latest loss, a 1-0 defeat to South Georgia Tormenta. Despite the fervour of opening another new stadium, TFC II could not get themselves on the scoresheet and played a lacklustre game all-round.
Now in Florida, playing their games out of Osceola Heritage Park, the second team can use players from the MLS side. On Wednesday, TFC loaned Ralph Priso, Jayden Nelson and Kevin Silva to TFC II for the match against Tormenta.
Although the ability to take players from the MLS side has its potential benefits, there are also drawbacks of being so close to the first team. The USL League 1 commentator spoke of how MLS Head Coach Chris Armas and the TFC first team can pluck players from USL training to train with the MLS group. After spending the early portion of the USL season as a cohesive unit, the fracturing and inconsistencies of being close to the MLS team are beginning to show.
Here’s how TFC II look.— Ben Steiner (@BenSteiner00) June 9, 2021
Some lineup notes: @WakingtheRed
- Vaikla out. Silva in
- Silva, Priso, Nelson all start.
- McLaughlin, Yeates return to XI.
- Thompson and Anotomoglou get a rest, they’ve been fantastic in 2021.
- Dante Campbell returns to the roster.#TFCLive pic.twitter.com/TCTy2FNgBm
With Priso, Nelson and Silva, one would have thought the level of play would be elevated. After all, Priso has been playing alongside American soccer legend Michael Bradley. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as the trio seemed to disrupt TFC II rather than improve the play.
Wednesday’s match pitted Toronto, winless in four, with Tormenta, who had one win in their last five. With 10th and 11th in the 12 team league facing off, it was not exactly a clash of the titans.
TFC II Head Coach Mike Munoz made several adjustments to his starting lineup, most notably starting all three MLS loanees. With that, Andreas Vaikla vacated as goalkeeper for Silva, while Themi Antonoglou found his way to the bench for Nelson. Aside from those changes, Garett McLaughlin and Steffen Yeates’ forward pairing were re-installed into the eleven, while Dante Campbell found himself in the matchday roster for the first time in 2021.
The first half of the match offered very little excitement, as the two sides combined for only one shot on target through 45 minutes. Nelson was decent at pressuring the South Georgia backline in his season debut but could not create many chances for himself or his teammates. However, he did pull off a nifty little flick.
Jayden Nelson doesn’t get angry, he gets even pic.twitter.com/hBUn4X0Wx5— Waking the Red (@WakingtheRed) June 9, 2021
At the outset of the second half, it was clear that things were opening up a little. Tormenta got an early chance off the boot of Luca Mayr, whose free-kick tested Silvia. Moments later, Tormenta had another opportunity to open the scoring, but 2020 USL All-Star Marco Micaletto fired his shot wide of the near post.
As time wore on, it seemed less likely that TFC II would find a goal. The club had yet to score after the 58th minute through five games, and with few attacking options on the bench, the streak reached a sixth straight game.
Antonoglou and Julian Altobelli found their way onto the field, but neither could make much of a difference. If the pair had started, their comfort level with the TFC II group might have been able to find some offence against a weak South Georgia side.
Still seeking a winner, Munoz introduced Campbell and Higgins to the match, two players more suited for defending a result than scoring a winner. While a point looked all but official in the 86th minute, that hope was gone in less than 200 seconds.
Looking at a 0-0 draw and their fourth single point in as many games, TFC II had points stolen late once again. Tormenta’s Micaletto scored in the 88th minute to tear points away from Toronto, much like the last-gasp draw against North Texas in May.
Unfortunately, Hugo Priso-Mbongue did not feature in the match. If he did, it would have been the first time that the Priso-Mbongue brothers had played together. With the loss, TFC II slip below a point and goal per game for the first time this season. However, the Young Reds will have a chance at redemption on Saturday when they visit a now-familiar South Georgia squad.
WTR Man of the Match: Kevin Silva
Playing his first match of the season, 23-year-old Kevin Silva was one of the bright spots for Toronto. Although he was on the losing end of the match, he looked confident throughout the day, and even the winning goal cannot be blamed solely on him. He made three saves, and even though he looked shaky at moments, he was a general calming presence behind Toronto’s backline.
UP NEXT: Sunday v South Georgia Tormenta
Get used to two opponents because that is all TFC II will see for June. Now playing in the southeast USA, the USL has given TFC II a localized schedule, playing only against South Georgia and CF Fort Laurderal (Inter Miami). Sunday’s match kicks off at 8:00 pm ET on the USL League 1 YouTube channel.