TORONTO, Canada—In what ended up being a gritty matchup in front of 15,000 fans at BMO Field, neither side was able to pull out the victory Sunday night, as Toronto FC and Nashville SC settled for a 1-1 draw in Week 16 Major League Soccer action.
Toronto FC extended their unbeaten run to five games with the draw and are still undefeated in the Javier Perez era. Nashville, meanwhile, also continued their red-hot run of play, extending their unbeaten run to eight.
Prior to the start of this one, Alejandro Pozuelo was left off the team sheet, as coach Javier Perez disclosed that their superstar had been feeling tightness in his leg leading up to the start of the match, and the club elected to ere on the side of caution, calling his absence ‘precautionary.’
With the reigning MVP out of the lineup, much of the offence would have to come through their other superstar, Yeferson Soteldo, and in the 20th minute, the Venezuelan international pulled another rabbit out of his hat, this time off a free kick.
Perhaps a play off the training pitch, Bradley lined up to take a free kick from about 40 yards out, as TFC players lined up on the edge of the box expecting a cross in from the captain. However, it would be Soteldo surprising everybody, taking the kick early and finding the head of Omar Gonzalez, who would head home to give the Reds the early lead.
The assist was Soteldo’s fourth of the season in eight starts, to go along with two goals. His impact on this Toronto FC team can not be overstated, as he has fans on the edge of their seat every time he picks up the ball.
But Nashville, who entered this game second in the Eastern Conference, would not go down without a fight, as set pieces would continue to play a major role in this match — well, sort of.
In the 40th minute, Nashville would find their equalizer via a long throw-in, which was somehow headed home by Robert Castellanos. A strange one to concede, but more importantly, a goal that would tie this game and give Nashville some momentum heading into the break.
And just after halftime, Nashville almost put that momentum to good use, as Hany Mukhtar found himself all alone in the box after a cross was whipped in towards the attacker. Dead-centre, approximately six-yards out, the Nashville Designated Player somehow fumbled the bag, heading the ball into the ground and over the net — a huge break for TFC.
Both sides would continue to press looking for a late winner, however, it was for not, as this game would finish 1-1, despite a late penalty shout from the home side.
Since returning to BMO Field following 497 days away from home, Toronto FC have now rallied off three-straight 1-1 draws at home.
And after losing six games in a row, the Reds have now picked up nine out of a possible 15 points, and are now eight points out of the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 17 matches left to play.
They’ll need to start converting games like this into three points sooner rather than later, but against a red-hot team like Nashville, a 1-1 draw is a respectable result.
TFC are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm ET.