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Recap: Toronto FC share spoils with Columbus Crew in home opener

The Reds had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Columbus at BMO Field on Saturday night.

Richie Laryea with possession on Saturday night against Columbus.
(Sean Pollock/Waking the Red)

After a cold night on the lakeshore, Toronto FC remain winless after the first three games of the MLS season.

Lorenzo Insigne was not in the matchday squad as he works his way back to full fitness, while Deandre Kerr made his first appearance and start of the season. Kerr started up front as strikers Ayo Akinola and Adama Diomande are currently dealing with hamstring issues.

Columbus started the match on the front foot and had multiple corners within the first 20 minutes. In the 13th minute, MLS veteran Darlington Nagbe freely dribbled through the midfield then sent a pass to Cucho Hernández. Hernández’s shot won a corner for the visitors.

The Reds opened the scoring in the 24th minute with a goal from Kerr. Kerr received a pass from Jonathan Osorio and put the ball through defender Miloš Degenek’s legs before taking a shot with his left foot that beat Crew ‘keeper Eloy Room at his near post.

Federico Bernardeschi and Deandre Kerr embrace after the opening goal.
(Sean Pollock/Waking the Red)

A few chances were created by both sides during the remainder of the second half, but nothing that either team’s defenders and goalkeepers couldn’t handle.

Laryea and Bernardeschi linking up.
(Sean Pollock/Waking the Red)

Columbus became more settled into the match as the second half elapsed, the men in yellow had three impactful shots on and around TFC’s net in the span of 10 minutes between 50’ and 60’.

Defender Steven Moreira had two cracks at goal, one off target and one saved by Sean Johnson. A Lucas Zelarayán cross from a free kick found Aidan Morris but his sliding effort went just wide of the post.

In the 73rd minute, fan-favourite Victor Vázquez returned to action for Toronto for the first time since 2018 - he replaced Brandon Servania who had a quiet but effective evening. Kobe Franklin also checked into the game for Raoul Petretta who came off with an apparent injury.

Vázquez and Servania
(Sean Pollock/Waking the Red)

Columbus tied the game at 1-1 in the 75th minute as debutant Jimmy Medranda scored for his new club. Medranda chipped Johnson but the goal was ruled for offside at first - the goal was given after a VAR check.

As stoppage time approached, TFC fans had their hearts in their mouths. With the defeat suffered in D.C. in devastating fashion to open the season, it looked like Columbus were going to score the winning goal. Constant pressure from the Crew resulted in two big opportunities - one for Zelarayán and one for Mățan. Luckily Toronto held on for a second draw of the season.

Bob Bradley on the team making multiple extra passes in the final third:

“Sometimes it’s the right decision to go a little further and there’s a real chance to make a pass for an easier goal and if you miss the pass, then you can’t complain that it was the wrong decision,” said Bradley.

Federico Bernardeschi on Deandre Kerr’s performance:

“I think Deandre played a good match because he is young but he has a lot of quality... I am happy for him, for sure,” said Bernardeschi.

Toronto FC’s next match is next Saturday against Inter Miami at BMO Field.

Kick-off is set for 7:30 pm EST.