Toronto FC will have to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the second leg of their Canadian Championship semi-final after going down to the Ottawa Fury at TD Place on Tuesday.
After a messy start, the Reds took the lead through Benoit Cheyrou in the first half but turned in a dreadful second-half performance and were punished by the USL side.
Ryan Williams scored a penalty after debutant Mitchell Taintor had handballed in the box before Sito gave the hosts the lead by capitalizing on a calamitous defensive sequence that began with Jay Chapman shanking a pass across his own penalty area.
Raheem Edwards, who had been caught sleeping on a similarly catastrophic bit of TFC defending for Ottawa’s first goal, was sent off in the final minutes after receiving a second yellow card for dissent.
Having named a much-changed side for the first leg, Greg Vanney may now be forced to turn to some of his big guns when the Fury visit BMO Field next week.
1. Outworked: Ottawa’s game plan was pretty simple; they put a lot of height on the pitch, got balls and bodies into the Toronto box and made the most of Ryan Williams’ excellent service from set pieces.
Toronto - with what was not their tallest lineup of the year - struggled to deal with that threat all night but what was more inexcusable was that they were outworked by their hosts. It was always going to be easier for Paul Dalglish to motivate his team for this game against an MLS side, especially given they were more in need of a win on the night, but top-level players have to find a way to match that.
Few really got close and it was a tough lesson in that respect for Edwards and Chapman, who made bad errors on the two goals before the former was sent off for losing his cool in the closing stages. The saving grace is that the team has been well and truly woken up for the second leg.
2. An opportunity missed: This was an opportunity for a few players either out of form or low on minutes to stake their claim, but unfortunately the majority of them looked out of form or low on minutes. Armando Cooper will take more heat for another frustrating display - though he at least provided some resistance in midfield that was noticeable by its absence after he had been substituted - and Jonathan Osorio is just way off his best at the moment.
I thought Jordan Hamilton did okay - the flick for Cheyrou’s goal was nice - and that Taintor gave a decent account of himself up until the whole defence fell apart in the second half. Cheyrou was as reliable a presence as ever, and Tosaint Ricketts added some spark when everyone else had faded. Otherwise, though, creditable displays were in short supply and a few players might have cost themselves another 90 minutes in the return leg at BMO Field.
3. The outlook: This result is more a rubbish night in isolation than it is a real problem in terms of the tie overall, although that said, a 1-1 draw - while, again, somewhat disappointing on the evening - would have made the task at home significantly more straightforward.
Off turf, with Victor Vazquez and Jozy Altidore likely on the bench in case of emergency and having presumably had a rocket fired up their rear ends by Greg Vanney, though, Toronto should have enough about them to turn the tie around. If not, we’ve always got the Champions League play-off game.