Toronto FC’s away woes continued in Vancouver as Bob Bradley and co. suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of their Western Conference rival.
Four straight defeats has seen The Reds fall further down the table in the Eastern Conference, a storyline that some may have not predicted following impressive wins over New York City FC and the Philadelphia Union in April.
With a depleted squad at his disposal, Bob Bradley was forced to change things up in midfield, with Kosi Thompson and Deandre Kerr slotting into the middle of the park in front of a holding Michael Bradley.
Another interesting move by TFC’s head coach was to have Alejandro Pozuelo play on the right wing to start, with Jesús Jiménez leading the line as per usual.
There was quite some anticipation regarding how Toronto would line up at BC Place, and despite multiple absentees, The Reds started brightly, staying patient on the ball and allowing themselves time to dictate play.
Luca Petrasso looked lively early on, yet again showcasing his fearlessness down the flank when it came to taking on defenders.
Yet, in spite of some promising spells in possession, Vancouver threatened on the counter, most notably through Déiber Caicedo. The Colombian’s fancy footwork caused problems for Toronto’s defence, as Alex Bono was called into action inside the first 10 minutes to deny the forward.
Caicedo and his compatriot Cristian Dájome continued to cause problems for TFC during the first quarter of an hour, especially down the left side. O’Neill held his ground on a couple of occasions, as his MLS experience proved vital while playing alongside first team rookies Petrasso, MacNaughton and Chung.
At the 34th minute mark, VAR was called into action following an apparent handball by Ranko Veselinovic. The Reds had yet to create a significant chance in the final third, so this was an opportune time to go in front. Yet, Alejandro Pozuelo’s feeble penalty was easily saved by Thomas Hasal, much to the joy of the Whitecaps players and fans.
Moments before the halftime whistle, Nelson had arguably the best chance from open play to give Toronto the lead, only for the starlet to put the ball off target from close range. Overall, neither side dazzled in that first half, allowing for an open-ended second 45 at BC Place.
While TFC looked the more likely to open the scoring before the break, Vancouver came out for the second half with a fire in their belly, as Dájome had the first of a few chances for the hosts between minutes 45 and 55.
After the Colombian failed to put his shot on target from close range, Brian White’s diving header glanced just wide of Bono’s goal. Toronto was evidently on the back foot to start the second 45, but in the 66th minute, The Reds should had the ball in the back of the net.
Deandre Kerr’s perfectly placed pass from the right flank found Pozuelo, who was only able to hit his shot straight at Hasal. Yet, Nelson pounced on the rebound and Toronto had thought they had opened the scoring at last. Sadly, that was not the case.
A foul was ultimately called on Hasal, and following some on-pitch deliberation, the game would remain goalless. With the referee not even consulting his VAR monitor to take another look, Toronto FC players and fans were left fuming. In the end, Hasal was forced off injured and replaced by Cody Cropper.
May 8, 2022
As the match went on, Toronto began to steadily come alive once again. Jordan Perruzza nearly scored his first of the season, but his header was parried away by Vancouver’s substitute goalkeeper.
Momentum may have shifted in favour of the visitors, but during the final 10 minutes, Vancouver was injected with a sense of urgency from substitutes Lucas Cavallini and Tosaint Ricketts. Ahead of the final whistle, this one could have gone either way.
Yet, in heartbreaking fashion, former Red Ricketts was the man to break the deadlock in the 90th minute, slotting the ball home from close range after a dogged bit of play from Cavallini.
A frustrating defeat for Toronto FC to say the least. Given the circumstances, The Reds will feel hard done-by by the result. There will be much debate with regards to certain calls, but Toronto arguably deserved to head home with more than what they got.
Toronto FC sits 12th in the Eastern Conference, just one point above Inter Miami and the Chicago Fire, who have both played a game less than The Reds.
Up next, Toronto plays host to Orlando City on Saturday, May 14th. Ultimately, results will have to come sooner rather than later as Toronto has now played one-third of their matches in MLS this season (3-2-6).