Toronto FC play Columbus Crew to 1-1 Draw in their Home Opener
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Saturday, March 11, 2023
Toronto FC extended their point streak as they played Columbus Crew to a 1-1 draw in their 2023 home opener.
Toronto's backline were tested in the opening 10 minutes of the match as they had a few close calls as a result of miscommunication, but they were able to regroup and cleared the ball out.
Federico Bernardeschi and Richie Laryea linked up well in the 20th minute, which saw Toronto have their best scoring opportunity up to that point. The two have developed great chemistry since the Italian's arrival and he most recently complimented Laryea as a teammate and partner on the right-wing during his media availability ahead of the home opener.
Due to the injuries to Toronto's strikers, Deandre Kerr received an opportunity to start. Jonathan Osorio, who usually plays in a central midfield trio with Mark-Anthony Kaye and captain Michael Bradley, was playing on the left-wing.
Kerr took advantage of the opportunity in the 24th minute as he received a pass from Osorio and made no mistake as he took a touch and struck the ball in the back of the net to give Toronto the 1-0 lead. Shortly after, in the 30th minute, Kaye attempted a strike on-goal with his right-foot, but narrowly missed the net wide.
Osorio had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 prior to the conclusion of the first-half after maneuvering past a defender and striking the ball, but Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room made an excellent save.
Despite Columbus having the majority of possession, TFC were the better side in the opening 45-minutes. Aside from a couple of worrying moments defensively at the start, they were more aggressive and posed a greater threat on the counterattack.
During his post-match media availability, coach Bradley noted that it took a while for the team to get settled into the match, but felt good about what he saw once they did in the first half, saing:
"After 15-minutes in the first half, I thought we started connecting things quickly - got a goal. By and large, most of the first half felt like we had good ideas with the ball and I thought we were doing some pretty good things defensively in terms of being fluid in terms of stopping certain situations from them. So I felt good about that."
The Crew had a better effort to start the half as they had a sense of urgency and looked to score an equalizer.
There was a special moment for TFC fans in the 70th minute as Victor Vazquez subbed into the match. This was his first MLS appeareance for Toronto since rejoining the club this past offseason. It was a nice ovation for the midfielder, who was a member of TFC's MLS Cup winning roster.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions for TFC in the 74th minute as it appeared as though Jimmy Medranda's goal was ruled offside, however, VAR later determined that it was a good goal.
Toronto had an opportunity to regain the lead in the 84th minute after an excellent pass from Bernardeschi to Hugo Mbongue, who laid it off to an open Laryea, but the fullback struck over the net. Columbus responded with a scoring attempt of their own, but Hernandez was unable to finish.
Coach Bradley mentioned that he didn't believe that the team's second half performance was good enough as they were unable to maintain the same level of consistency on the defensive-end, which cost them in the end, saying:
"I don't think we did a good enough job of getting control of the game, getting up the field. And moments where we did get up the field and balls turned over, we weren't able to quickly stop transitions or run hard enough to run guys back to deal with certain situations...And then the goal comes sort of out of nothing but by and large, I don't think the second half was good enough."
Toronto were once again without the services of their Designated Player, Lorenzo Insigne, who is dealing with a lower body injury. Coach Bradley was hopeful that he would be in the lineup for the home opener, but next week's match seems like a more realistic target. The Italian winger picked up the injury during the season opener, when he was forced to sub off in the first half.
Toronto FC are back in action next Saturday, when they host Inter Miami at BMO Field.
Photo credit: Toronto FC (@TorontoFC - Twitter)