Jonathan Osorio’s first two touches were perfect. After Nick Hagglund (!) had feinted into space on the left wing and sent in a superb cross, Osorio chested the ball down beautifully, took an even better second touch to evade Ilie Sanchez and had just Tim Melia to beat from 10 yards.
It was not a simple finish - the ball was bouncing and the shot was on his weaker left foot - but the 24-year-old had to do better than to blast it over the crossbar. He looked up to the big screen to watch the replay as the game restarted and reacted with a single word beginning with ‘f’.
That was the third time Osorio had missed the target in the first half of Toronto FC’s draw with Sporting Kansas City, and in a game that ended 0-0 those opportunities inevitably overshadowed an otherwise respectable performance alongside Victor Vazquez in central midfield. Afterwards, Osorio tweeted (and later removed) an apology and promise to improve.
“He does a lot of the work before the finish very well and maybe comes up with some things that other guys can’t because he’s great at wiggling away under pressure,” Greg Vanney said. “I don’t know if it’s just an anxious moment when he goes to hit the ball and he doesn’t hit it clean, or he’s trying to rush it when he gets to that moment.
“Sometimes I think, and I’ve talked to him about, just the choice of shot, trying to hit things too hard when he needs to just pick out a spot. The choice of surface he’s trying to use, sometimes it’s that. But I think it’s just a level of composure when he gets into that moment to know what he wants to do with the ball, where he wants to place the ball and then choose the right surface to get it there.
“I think he’s still a little frantic in that final second there when he’s got to make a big play.”
While he has work to do, though, Osorio was not the only player guilty of passing up good openings on the night. His were the most noticeable as they were all shots, but on several occasions it was the final pass, rather than the finish, that Toronto failed to produce with enough quality. Those situations do not tend to stick in the mind as clearly.
Vanney, in fact, emphasized that Toronto’s shortcomings in attack - though they had plenty of chances to score the goal they needed - started from the back. The coach felt that the Reds did not do a good enough job of countering Sporting KC’s attempts to put them under pressure, particularly in the first half, by attempting more ambitious passes between the lines and behind the defence.
“From our back group, we’ve got to be more confident and clearer about playing balls behind the pressure and recognizing where those angles are, playing behind,” he said. “Too many times we got… I think we hesitated to play that ball that might have been there and we turned around and played another backwards pass and the pressure just kept coming and kept coming.
“[There was] too many of those moments over the course of the night where our back group has to organize themselves a little bit clearer and be a little more confident about playing a ball between lines into the pockets that exist. They’re a good pressing team - that’s how they do it, we knew that it was coming. But I thought again, I don’t think that was the difference in the game - I thought the difference in the game was our moments where we’re using the ball and where we created some opportunities.
“We need to finish at least one of those, because I thought we got into some really dangerous areas and we didn’t get the final pass, the final shot into the right place. And then again, just being a little more disciplined in our attacking shape, and some of that discipline comes from when our guys have to be able to hit passes that are there. Because if they don’t, then guys come looking for the ball and our shape starts to break down a little bit.”