TORONTO, CANADA - When Toronto FC II saw a nine-day break between matches on their schedule, there is no doubt that the group thought they could come out and grab three points upon their return. However, not everything goes as planned, and the Young Reds lost by the slimmest of margins in their Friday night return.
Just days after Toronto FC took down the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium, the second team could not match the feat, falling 1-0 to Revs II. It was not for lack of effort or chances, though, as TFC II put up 12 shots and had a penalty stopped.
Coming off their lengthy break, Head Coach Mike Munoz fielded a solid lineup, only leaving out leading goalscorer Garett McLaughlin and former MLS loan players, who had been recalled.
In net, 34-year-old Caleb-Patterson Sewell started, while Luca Petrasso, Kevin Politz, Talen Maples and Kobe Franklin tended the backline. Themi Antonoglou began the match of the left-wing, linking up with Petrasso, a combination that has been successful this season. Joining Antoniou in the midfield were Mehdi Essousi, Enric Bernat Lunar and Kosi Thompson. Meanwhile, Julian Altobelli leads the forwards alongside Antonio Carlini.
It did not take long for Patterson-Sewell to get his first test of the night, as in just the 12th minute, New England’s Justin Rennicks fired a shot from a sharp angle, forcing a save and a rebound which was eventually put over the bar.
While giving up such a high-quality chance early in the game caused flashbacks of recent times for TFC fans, it was a blessing in disguise. The first shot, while threatening, allowed Patterson-Sewell to build some confidence and deflect the barrage of chances that came his way throughout the opening half.
Toronto’s first scoring chance came in the 38th minute, and it should have put TFC II up by a goal. Carlini sent a perfectly weighted pass over the midfield to Altobelli, who ran onto it while staying onside, only to force a massive save out of New England’s Joseph Rice.
The USL broadcast camera angle does not offer a full view of the pitch, so it is impossible to tell whether Altobelli was truly onside on the play. However, assuming the assistant referee made the correct call, it was a perfect run by the TFC Academy graduate.
Leaving the first half knotted at zero, Revs II did not take long to break the deadlock, scoring their eventual winning goal in the 46th minute. New England did a stellar job of passing the play to and from Noel Buck, which opened up runs and opportunities for the home side.
On the goal seen above, it is clear that Toronto predicts Buck’s cross will be targeted towards Edward Kizza (19). Kevin Politz closes in on Kizza; meanwhile, Rivera forced his way in front of Franklin and put the ball into the goal. While it is a slight defensive mishap on Toronto’s part, credit has to go to the Revs attackers, who deceived TFC II’s defence wil multiple runs.
With hopes of an equalizing goal, Munoz introduced Rohan Roulbourne to the match in the 63rd minute, alongside Steffen Yeates. Five minutes later, he also sent in leading goalscorer Garret Mclaughlin.
Goulbourne nearly tied the game for Toronto in the 83rd minute, getting past the New England goalkeeper, but being fouled in the process. On the ensuing penalty kick, Rice guessed correctly and stopped Essousi’s attempt from the spot.
Although any player at the professional level should score a penalty, it is peculiar that Mclaughlin, the go-to penalty taker this season, did not step up to the spot. McLaughlin has not missed a spot-kick this season and was on the field at the time. Nonetheless, expect McLaughlin to take the shot next time the opportunity arises.
With the loss, TFC II falls outside of the playoff picture and behind Revolution II. However, there is still much hope for Toronto, as they are expected to return home next month to play at the BMO Training Centre.
WTR Man of the Match: Caleb Patterson-Sewell
Goalkeeping is the least of Toronto’s worries, and Caleb Patterson-Sewell made sure that was the case once again. With Toronto pressing for a goal for the entire second half, they allowed 21 shots, forcing six saves from the veteran.
When TFC II appointed Patterson-Sewell as a player-coach ahead of the season, the current situation would have been idyllic. He offers guidance to the younger goalkeepers and players while adding confidence in defence.
Next: July 18 - North Carolina FC
After spending the first third of the season playing against tough competition, TFC II gets a bit of a more straightforward test against the last-place North Carolina FC. The club formerly known as the Railhawks has only five points through nine games and has seen their season evaporate before it started.
Toronto visits WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday, July 18 at 6:00 pm ET.