Toronto FC’s road woes continued with a 2-1 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
As this MLS season drags on, more comparisons are being made to TFC’s worst-ever MLS campaign; 2012. Through 20 games that year, Toronto FC had amassed 19 points. How many points does this year’s TFC side have after 20 games, you ask? 19 points. This team has yet to win on the road this season, and time will tell if they are able to equal the number of away wins recorded by the 2012 side – a grand total of two.
As for Saturday night’s match in Foxborough, Mass., the Reds got out to a flying start thanks to a goal from Deandre Kerr in the 11th minute. Canadian left-back Cristián Gutiérrez made his TFC debut on Wednesday in Cincinnati. On Saturday, he made his first start and registered his first assist for the club.
“I was out wide and saw Lorenzo [Insigne] pick up the ball and play Guti[érrez] on the overlap,” Deandre Kerr detailed in the post-match press conference. “Something that I’ve been trying to work on a lot in training and implement in games is when the ball goes wide and looks like it’s going to be crossed – to run hard in the box and run in front of the defender and use my presence in the air.”
“It was a good goal, Deandre shows that he can do good things,” said head coach Bob Bradley. “I thought he put a lot into it tonight but around 55 minutes, physically his tank is empty. That’s where he’s got to continue to develop and grow as a player; his mentality and his ability to be like that from the beginning to the end of the game.”
Midway through the first half, New England began to settle into the match and started to create more chances. Both Revs captain Carles Gil and Argentine striker Gustavo Bou had some cracks at goal, but it was American striker Bobby Wood who levelled the match in the 32nd minute.
Wood was also on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture at BMO Field back in May.
Bou’s clever backheel finish in the 40th minute made the Revolution fans go wild, but the goal was ruled out due to offside.
Bradley made a triple substitution at halftime: Matt Hedges, Gutiérrez, and Federico Bernardeschi made way for Themi Antonglou, Sigurd Rosted, and Shane O’Neill. He explained the reasoning for it post-match:
“Fede was struggling with his back today, he gave us everything he could in the first half. Matt’s hamstring tightened up so he had to come off, and Guti’s calf was tight. When you consider especially in Fede’s, case the short turnaround in the game – if you had pushed him he probably could’ve tried to give another five or 10 minutes, but he was struggling at half-time,” Bradley said.
New England head coach Bruce Arena made a halftime change of his own, taking out Bou for Giacomo Vrioni. Vrioni wasted no time and scored the eventual game-winning goal in the 52nd minute.
“We made a mess of it (the second goal). As much as we played pretty well, I didn’t think either goal that we gave up were good goals. When we needed to defend tighter in the box and make some plays, on both goals I didn’t think we did a good job,” Bradley said.
Kerr made the most of his chance yet again this season on limited minutes, being substituted for fellow Canadian striker Ayo Akinola in the 58th minute.
“I just always try to stay ready. Wherever the coach wants to play me, whether it’s No. 9, out wide or in the midfield. Just staying ready for my opportunity whether I start or whether I come on – just doing whatever I can to help the team win. That has always been my mindset from the start and it will always be my mindset,” Kerr said.
Bradley utilized all five of his allotted substitutions, the final change was made in the 70th minute when striker Jordan Perruzza came on for C.J. Sapong.
During a crucial point of the season when teams are beginning to make a playoff push, TFC’s matchday squads are being rotated on a weekly basis because of player availability, and also in order to figure out what the best formula is.
“It depends on how guys train during the week. Whether guys are sharp, whether guys earn the chance to get on the field. That part is something that gets emphasized every single day. We need more guys pushing and competing, and then you have more options. We’ve gone through a stretch where we’ve also been missing a lot of guys. Those are all factors. Triple sub at half-time, then we used our other two because we had to try to push the game in the best way that we could,” said Bradley.
Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty had a golden opportunity to even the scoring in the 72nd minute. His shot from just outside the six-yard box was parried away by Serbian goalkeeper Djordje Petrović.
In the dying moments of the 90 minutes, Lorenzo Insigne got onto the end of a long ball and poked the ball into the net. The Italian winger and TFC captain on the night was deemed to be offside by the assistant referee.
“By the way the game is supposed to be handled, it’s way too tight for the (assistant referee) to put his flag up, Bradley said. “He’s got to leave his flag down, then they’ll look at it and go from there. I don’t think there’s a good enough angle, but it’s so close. I don’t know how he can put his flag up. I think that has been mishandled, from there, the angles aren’t good enough to overturn.”
The stats show that TFC deserved at least a point on the night, with 14 shots overall, and 10 on target.
“We put a lot into it. We played forward a little bit faster at times, we had more runners in the box. In certain moments we’ve got to play faster, we’ve got to be more aggressive and I think we saw some of that tonight,” said Bradley.
Toronto FC return home to BMO Field for an inter-conference matchup on Canada Day against Real Salt Lake. Kick-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.