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Gustavo Bou’s late penalty inflicts Toronto FC’s first defeat at BMO Field in 2021

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The Reds are now winless in four MLS games.

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After four straight home draws since returning to BMO Field, Toronto FC fell to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the New England Revolution, the Reds’ first true home loss of the 2021 MLS season.

TFC has now won only two of their last eight (and three in 19) while recording four points from five home games.

Following the inspiring second half performance against NYCFC last weekend, Javier Perez made one significant change to his starting eleven as Michael Bradley was named on the bench not only for the first time this season, but also for the first time since October 2020. Jozy Altidore was a late scratch due to some discomfort in his foot, which gave Ifunanyachi Achara just his second-career start for Toronto.

As the sun began to set, the hosts kicked off the match firmly on the front foot. The Reds pressed high and gave the visitors little time on the ball, ensuring Gustavo Bou and co. were kept quiet early on.

The right flank proved to be Toronto’s main attacking outlet during the opening ten minutes as Richie Laryea produced the match’s first attacking effort. Achara then had a clear-cut chance to put the Reds ahead after a delicious through ball from Laryea, but the Nigerian could not beat Matt Turner at his near post. The forward’s blushes were spared though as he was called offside.

An admirable aspect of the first 15 minutes for TFC was the composure of Ralph Priso. The youngster was not making the simple complicated and continuously found the open man in space.

Despite Toronto’s bright start, New England drew first blood with their first attempt of the game as Brampton’s very own, Tajon Buchannan, watched his looping header find its way past Alex Bono to give the visitors the lead. Kemar Lawrence was caught ball watching while DeJuan Jones’ cross was whipped in, leaving the Revs’ Canadian international unmarked to head home.

Toronto has now only kept one clean sheet in 19 MLS games this season. A worrying figure to say the least.

Soteldo and Pozuelo then injected some life into Toronto’s play, but their efforts to get a shot off were met by New England’s dogged defensive play. Moments later, Achara’s strike from just inside the area hit the outside of the post while his teammates were in the middle of appealing for a penalty.

With limited attacking opportunities during the final 10 minutes of the half, TFC grew more and more frustrated and carelessly gave away possession on multiple occasions. Perez’s men were indeed due for a wake up call.

Three touches seemed to be one too many for Toronto as it was obvious the Reds needed to move the ball much quicker. In addition, the likes of Mark Delgado and Jonathan Osorio should not be afraid to pull the trigger from distance, especially since Turner was quite untroubled in that first half.

In spite of that, the Reds did have some dominant spells to build off of ahead of a crucial second half.

Buchanan had the first opportunity of the second 45 as his audacious chip could not find the target thanks to some solid defending from Eriq Zavaleta. The Canadian starlet’s opening strike in the first half remained the only shot on target of the whole game as the hour-mark loomed.

While New England lacked the quality to put the game beyond their opponent’s reach, Toronto had their best chance of the game so far through Delgado. Pozuelo’s stunning lobbed pass found Laryea at the edge of the box, who drove it in first time towards TFC’s No. 8, but the American could only hit it straight at Turner.

Soteldo then had a crack from the top of the penalty area following a quick free-kick. Yet, the Venezuelan failed to hit the target as he continues to search for his first goal at BMO Field.

It was now the Revs’ turn to attack as MLS’s top scorer, Bou, was denied in a one-on-one first by Bono, and then by Priso, who cleared the Argentine’s rebound off the line.

Things then went from bad to worse for Toronto as Priso, who was arguably the best player on the pitch for the hosts, hobbled off injured after his valiant defensive efforts to keep out Bou. Bradley and Patrick Mullins both entered the game for the final 20 minutes.

Still narrowly trailing in the 78th minute, some magical play between Soteldo and Pozuelo allowed the Spaniard to play a ball into Osorio, who fired home the equalizer from point-blank range. TFC’s all-time appearance leader became the first player to score at least five in all competitions for the Reds in 2021.

Unfortunately, Toronto’s momentum was killed instantly as Zavaleta hauled down Adam Buksa to give away a penalty, which Bou converted for his 12th MLS strike of the campaign.

Seven minutes of injury time were added on as the Reds jostled for a second equalizer on the night. Toronto’s best effort in the dying embers of the match came from Soteldo, whose shot from long range fell right into the gloves of Turner.

As the final whistle blew, TFC was left to reflect on a performance that merited at least a point. More tenacity in the final third could have done the trick, but with the business end of the season approaching, the time for moral victories is over.

The Reds have now dropped 10 points from their last four games and remain bottom of the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, New England recorded their 13th win of the campaign and stretched their unbeaten run to seven since losing to TFC at home on July 7th.

Canadian neutrals will definitely be happy to see two of their (and Brampton’s) own on the scoresheet, but for the TFC faithful, they will have to wait exactly one month to possibly see their side win on home turf.