Toronto FC knocked out of MLS is Back tournament after a 3-1 loss to NYCFC — Toronto Sun

Revenge may be a dish best served cold. But on sweltering Sunday night in Orlando, it was a hot dish of revenge served up by New York City FC against Toronto FC. Read More

Toronto FC knocked out of MLS is Back tournament after a 3-1 loss to NYCFC — Toronto Sun

TFC 0, REVOLUTION 0: Summary and quotes.

TORONTO FC (0) – NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (0) POST MATCH SUMMARY

SCORING SUMMARY

None

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

NE – Kelyn Rowe 38’ (caution)

NE – Scott Caldwell 41’ (caution)

TFC – Michael Bradley 50’ (caution)

MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT STANDINGS

GROUP CWLTGFGAGDPTS.
Toronto FC1026515
New England Revolution1022115
D.C. United0023302
Montreal Impact02035-20

Bold – Advanced to Round of 16

MEDIA NOTES

  • Toronto FC extended its club-record unbeaten run in MLS regular season matches to 15 (6 wins and 9 ties) – courtesy of Opta
  • With the draw today, Toronto FC has secured one of the top two spots in Group C and have advanced to the Round of 16
  • Noble Okello made his Toronto FC and MLS debut today, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute

LINEUPS

TORONTO FC – Alex Bono; Auro Jr. (Laurent Ciman 82’), Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga (Jozy Altidore 86’), Richie Laryea; Michael Bradley (C), Marky Delgado (Noble Okello 68’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Pablo Piatti (Tsubasa Endoh 67’), Nick DeLeon (Jacob Shaffelburg, HT’), Ayo Akinola

Substitutes Not Used: Quentin Westberg, Eriq Zavaleta, Griffin Dorsey, Liam Fraser, Erickson Gallardo, Jayden Nelson, Patrick Mullins

NEW ENGLAND – Matt Turner; Andrew Farrell, Henry Kessler, Brandon Bye, DeJuan Jones; Scott Caldwell (Wilfried Zahibo HT’), Teal Bunbury (C) (Cristian Penilla 60’), Kelyn Rowe (Gustavo Bou 60’), Diego Fagundez; Adam Buksa (Justin Rennicks 77’), Tajon Buchanan

Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Jeff Caldwell, Michael Mancienne, Seth Sinovic, Antonio Delamea, Alexander Buttner, Issac Angking, Damian Rivera

GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC

Are you happy with where the team is heading into the knockout round? And we got to see a glimpse of Jozy Altidore and Ayo Akinola playing together, what did you think?

For us we are pleased and content with where we are in terms of the results so far. I can nitpick forever. We should have taken three in the first game. But for the short turnaround, guys dug down. Two 9:00 a.m. games and a game in 48 hours in between there so I’m really pleased with the guys resiliency, the battle. We did some really good things, especially in the first half, I thought, in terms of our ball circulation and made it really difficult for them. So, I’m pleased with our performances, so now our games move to night. We’re getting our legs underneath us. Jozy is getting himself back into the fold with us. Oso should be ready hopefully for the next game, to get involved. It was a little bit of a precautionary choice today. So, the team continues to build and that’s what these events are about. So, I’m pleased with where we are at. I’m pleased with where our mindset is at. These 9:00 a.m. games are brutal. And we’ve just grinded through another one. In terms of seeing Jozy and Ayo on the field together, it was nice. I think it’s a handful for defenders. We slid Ayo out to the right side, so he was kind of coming off the right wing. Jozy was then playing as the target, but at times bringing Ayo in to run off Jozy. And that’s where the opportunity and the penalty kick, almost came from right off the bat. I’m pleased. They’re two strong guys who are going to be a handful for defenders in the moments that we use them together. One of those moments today where it came out. So, we’ll see how we play it out as we move the tournament and into the rest of the year.

Did these games play out the way you envisioned them? The team seemed to never get out of second gear, and it seemed like more of a grind to just get through the games.

I’m not sure if you’ve watched any of the other 9:00 a.m. games. They all look very similar. You can start and get going a little bit. The ball is moving quick. Everybody is fresh in the early part of it. But as the game continues, it’s really a grind. There’s no other way. It’s not different for any game. Yesterday, New York and Philadelphia in the morning. Everybody is complaining about how slow the game was. I say come try to play a game at 9:00 a.m. in Florida. At 10:00 a.m. when it starts to get hot, no clouds, no cover from the sun. The guys, it’s just gritting it out. Your mind is telling you to take a rest, but you know you also can’t take a rest and you’ve got 11 guys trying to coordinate when they can be resting at the same time. It’s choosing your moments. That’s what these games are about in the morning. You’ve got to choose the moment when you sprint and when you can make a difference. And then you’ve got to take advantage of that moment. And neither team really took advantage of the moment. And that’s why it ended 0-0. Sometimes defensively both teams made a play here and there, but these games are a grind and it’s about taking advantage of that moment whenever it shows up, and they don’t show up that often because guys don’t have the capacity to repeat sprints the same way they would if it was cooler outside, or if it was even at night here. So, I’m pleased. I’d be hard pressed to say there’s a team in the tournament that’s had as difficult a schedule as we’ve had in playing two games at 9:00 a.m. and one off two days’ rest. So again, it shows the strength and resiliency of our group. Even the depth, some of our young guys coming in and helping us out. So, I’m very pleased. Now we need to take that mindset and some of the good moments we’ve had over these few games and put them into complete games and continue to build in this process of getting better in the process through the tournament. Trying to win it.

Would you have traded the clean sheet for a goal today?

That’s a good question. Winning the game was our priority. That’s what we wanted to do. That’s what we set out to do. I think getting the clean sheet was important for our group in this tournament. I think we are confident we can create chances, we can score goals. With Jozy coming back in the mix, and Oso coming, we know our attack is going to continue to do its thing. I think showing some resilience as a group, getting a shutout is very important, especially because we’ve given up some goals that we’re not very proud of in the first couple of games. So, the shutout is important. I don’t know that I can ever answer that question precisely, but I think the shutout was good for our group today.

ALEX BONO – GOALKEEPER, TORONTO FC

How did you feel out there, Alex? It’s been a bit of a long time since you’ve played?

I felt really good. Obviously, the 9:00 am kickoff is a little bit different and not something we’re used to, especially in the heat, and makes it a lot more difficult. I feel bad these guys in front of me that work so hard and have to deal with that heat. So, the preparation is a little bit different, but the instruction is the same. I’ve got to go out and play 90 minutes. And so, I was ready for it. I felt good going in and I’m happy that we’re now at the top of the group and put ourselves in a good position to move on, and that was the goal today.

Alex, can you walk us through the point blank save you made late in the game?

It was a ball that came through. Rule of thumb I use is if a ball is outside the frame of the goal, is to hold your ground unless you think you’re going to get there. So, I decided to stay in, and he had time to dribble in and play a ball across. At that point you’re not really sure who’s there to get on the end of it. So, we work on it a lot in training, to come out and make yourself big and put a block on it and hope it hits you. I was fortunate in that moment that I was able to put myself in a good position and get a block.

Alex, the clean sheet was a nice pickup. What is the takeaway heading into the knockout round?

We showed a lot of resilience today. Obviously in the first half we were on top of the game a lot. Going into the second half we found ourselves against it a little bit. And we talked about it before the game, when you get tired, it’s inevitable during these games, it’s important that we keep mental strength, and I thought our group showed a ton of mental strength today, staying tuned in all the way until the final whistle, even when we were up against it at the toughest times. I give the guys a lot of credit for staying tuned in and engaged throughout the whole match.

AYO AKINOLA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC

Ayo, when you were taken down late in the game on the edge of the box, did you think that was a penalty?

I initially thought it was, but at the same time, I saw the skid marks on the grass, and it was just outside. So, I had a feeling…I thought initially they were going to give a penalty at first, but after it went to VAR, it was just outside the box, and I actually thought it was outside the box.

Ayo, were you starting to feel the effects of the 9:00 a.m. start, the heat and the humidity, with this being the third game you’ve played?

Just a little bit, but at the same time I’m kind of used to it. So, I wasn’t overly concerned about the heat because I think just the preparation was right for me. But I think just a little bit there were times when I had a lack of concentration, little slip ups, but I thought overall it was good for me.

Ayo, you’ve been very cool and collected as you’ve had so much success in this tournament. What’s life been like, has your phone been blowing up?

Just from family and friends, just cheering and supporting me. But at the same time, I’m not going to let social media get to my head. I know if you get complacent, it’s just going to go downhill. I just try to keep a humble approach and ground level it.

-TORONTO FOOTBALL CLUB-

TFC 4, IMPACT 3: Ayo Akinola records his first career hat-trick. Summary and quotes.

TORONTO FC (4) – MONTREAL IMPACT (3) POST MATCH SUMMARY

SCORING SUMMARY

TFC – Richie Laryea 8’ (Alejandro Pozuelo)

MTL – Romell Quioto 14’ (Emanuel Maciel)

TFC – Ayo Akinola 25’ (Alejandro Pozuelo, Pablo Piatti)

MTL – Saphir Taider 37’ PK

TFC – Ayo Akinola 37’ (Alejandro Pozuelo)

TFC – Ayo Akinola 83’ (Nick DeLeon, Quentin Westberg)

MTL – Saphir Raider 90’ + 5’ PK

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

MTL – Emanuel Maciel 6’ (caution)

MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT STANDINGS

GROUP CWLTGFGAGDPTS.
Toronto FC1016514
New England Revolution1001013
D.C. United0012201
Montreal Impact02035-20

MEDIA NOTES

  • Alejandro Pozuelo recorded three assists tonight, marking the first time in his MLS career he’s recorded three assists in a match
  • Pablo Piatti recorded his first assist for Toronto FC tonight
  • Ayo Akinola recorded his first career hat-trick for Toronto FC tonight
  • Ayo Akinola becomes the first player in MLS play to record a hat-trick in the 401 Derby (Toronto FC vs. Montreal) – courtesy of Opta
  • Ayo Akinola becomes the first player to record a hat-trick in the MLS is Back Tournament

LINE-UPS

TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, Richie Laryea (Jacob Shaffelburg 85’), Michael Bradley (C), Mark Delgado (Liam Fraser 66’), Alejandro Pozuelo; Pablo Piatti (Nick DeLeon 66’), Tsubasa Endoh (Laurent Ciman 59’), Ayo Akinola (Griffin Dorsey 86’)

Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Eriq Zavaleta, Noble Okello, Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Jayden Nelson, Erickson Gallardo, Patrick Mullins

MONTREAL – Clement Diop; Luis Binks (Rod Fanni HT’), Jukka Raitala (C), Jorge Corrales; Wanyama, Samuel Piette, Saphir Taider, Emanuel Maciel (Anthony Jackson-Hamel 73’), Shamit Shome (Zachary Brault-Guillard HT’); Romell Quioto (Orji Okwonkwo 79’), Maximiliano Urruti (Bojan 68’)

Substitutes Not Used: Evan Bush, Jonathan Sirois, Karifa Yao, Amar Sejdic, Lassi Lappalainen, Clement Bayiha, Mathieu Choiniere

GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC

Were you surprised by the fast pace to start the game?

I wasn’t surprised because I know our guys were really excited to play. It was going pretty quick and I think both teams were trying to feel each other out in terms of how they were going to defend things and it started getting open fast. I think that the fast start also led to us realizing this game, with only two days’ rest, as the game progressed, was also (going to require) a bit of management. It was the first 90 minutes for a lot of our guys, so we were managing, we were a little tired, our legs were a little bit heavy, and it took a lot of heart to get the result tonight.

Is Ayo living up to the expectations you had for him?

For Ayo over the last few years, with the U.S. teams at the international level he’s been playing on the wing. I’ve always viewed him as a striker. In his head, he’s always been trying to come to grips with just who he is the professional level, what he’s going to be most successful at as a professional. For us it’s always center striker who plays between the centre-backs or off of the one centre-back tonight because they played in a back three. He uses his power and his speed and his aggressiveness in front of goal. Because he has soft feet, he can hold things up. But he’ just so powerful and fast and I always envisioned him as this guy, the guy he is showing now.

I think over the last little bit, the last year and a half or two years, he’s been getting his head wrapped around that this is who he is. He’s gotten himself fit, he’s worked incredibly hard in the preseason and he just looks like he loves playing soccer and all of that is coming out in his performances. And yeah, he’s got an experienced guy like Pozuelo who is guiding him through the course the game, helping him with some information, but also a guy who can provide you with really good chances. I think Ayo, on a team like ours is always going to get opportunities, and he’s putting them away. And that’s one thing he can do. A guy like Ayo is always going to get his chances, and the question is putting them in the net.  For sure he is now.

How does this rank as far as Derby matches with Montreal?

The guys’ legs are tired, and my voice is tired for sure that’s a fair assessment. For sure it was a Montreal – Toronto game. Both teams were going for it. I think it’s one of the earlier times we’ve ever played Toronto-Montreal in a season. You had both teams trying to get their legs under them, get their fitness, their sharpness. All those things are still in play, so there were some mistakes out there. It wasn’t as clean as probably either of us would want in the grand scheme of things.  But, the heart and determination, the fight in the battle… these games always have. The only thing that was missing was the crowd that would be pushing the guys on in the excitement that they bring, and we miss them but the game itself a lot of the stuff that we’re used to seeing in these matches.

What about Pablo Piatti?

Pablo is clever, he’s shifty, he can play in between lines you saw a lot over the last two games what he’s capable of doing. He’s getting more and more comfortable with our system and his teammates and the relationships on the field and the different movements that we’re looking for, and timing and things like that. You can tell he’s a smart player who can create. He can make things happen. He’s also a technical player. So, his ability to set things up is always going to be a nice piece for us. Again, that’s where a guy like Ayo can benefit. We have a lot of guys who can set up opportunities. And I think as things go, my hope Is that Pablo will continue to find chances for himself to score. Or we can get him in good spots. He’s always threatening to get behind the back line we just haven’t really connected with him yet. But for sure he’s fitting in to our group nicely. He’s a wonderful person and that is another way he’s fitting in to our team. He and Poz and Auro and those guys are continuing to develop a relationship and off the field that we are benefiting from.

You seemed far more loud. What that an approach that was planned?

For one, you hear me more because there’s nobody else to listen to in the crowd. The other part, look, the guys were tired guys were just trying to gut through the game they were trying get in the right spots. Fatigue, in terms of we weren’t that great in moving together in our block, we were getting separated and so guys were so tired at certain times I didn’t think communication was happening all that much because. They were conserving and trying to get through the game. I felt it was just my ability to try to provide some voice out there for them. I wouldn’t be so loud and would normally let them handle it, but it felt like the guys were just trying to grind through it. I was trying to give some direction and spur them on and just try to help them out. That was tonight.  It was definitely not a plan. It’s looking at the moment and trying to fill in where I can help just want to feel like from the sidelines, I can help today it was with my voice

MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC

Are you liking what you’re seeing through two games in this tournament?

Very much so. Obviously, we talked at the beginning about understanding given all the different circumstances, that nothing was going to be easy or perfect. It’s been four months since the team last played a game. We’ve only been in training a few weeks, no real friendly matches. We were forced to jump right into it. We talked a lot about this idea that in the beginning we were going to need to use our mentality and rely on the ideas that have been ingrained into the team the last few years. And look, it’s not been perfect. There’s still a lot that needs to improve, but four points from the first two games is still a good start. We want to finish the group off with another win against New England. These points count in the regular season so it’s important to still finish in a really strong way. And we want to qualify for The Knockout round and take it one game at a time and be a team that is giving ourselves a real chance to lift the trophy at the end.

Three assists from Pozuelo. Have you seen something different from him in terms of his energy?

He loves to play.  His mentality, especially in this period of coming off the quarantine lockdown when we were forced to stay at home, and we were all without football for a while. I think he’s totally reinvigorated, and he loves to play, he loves to train, he loves to find little spots on the field. His eye for windows, for final passes, is excellent. I think the relationship he’s developed in a short period of time with Pablo Piatti, with Ayo, with Auro on the right side. I think there’s a lot of good things. So, look it’s no secret that we continue to rely on his ability to set things up in the final third of the field, in a big way.

Where does this rank in 401 Derby Lore?

It’s another chapter, that’s for sure. Someone asked me before the game what i hoped for the fans on a night like this. For me the answer was simple.  Obviously if it were possible, we’d have had every single one of our fans watching us live. given that they weren’t able to, we wanted to step on the field and play in a way that they’d be proud of, in a way that that wherever they’re watching, whether it’s in their living room, or whether it’s in the backyard, or at some outside patio, socially distant, whatever, we wanted to give our fans that feeling of winning a big game against your rival. We understand what the game means to them, it means the same to us, especially the group of us who’ve been here a while. It’s a special night, it’s a big three points, it’s a bizarre night, given the circumstances, the lack of crowd, the score line, everything. but it’s still Toronto-Montreal and that speaks for itself.

AYO AKINOLA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC

How does it feel to get a hat-trick and describe the third goal?

Pretty happy to get a hat-trick.  But I know it’s not over.  This game is in the past and I’m ready to think about the next one. On the third goal, I was initially going to go to the far post, but he had that covered. And as I was running, I saw the keeper going down so low that I knew if I chipped it he wouldn’t react to it.

What is it about this tournament that’s brought out your best? A lot of players are struggling with the conditions, but you’re not.

I’m kind of used to it. A few years back I used to live down here, being a part of the residency program for the United States. I was already used to the weather it was not a big deal for me.

-TORONTO FOOTBALL CLUB-

TFC 2, D.C. UNITED 2: Summary and quotes


TORONTO FC (2) – D.C. UNITED (2) POST MATCH SUMMARY

SCORING SUMMARY

TFC – Ayo Akinola 12’ (Alejandro Pozuelo)

TFC – Ayo Akinola 44’ (Alejandro Pozuelo)

DCU – Federico Higuain 84’ (Felipe)

DCU – Frederic Brillant 90’+1 (Steven Birnbaum, Felipe)

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

DCU – Junior Moreno 18’ (caution)

DCU – Junior Moreno 45’+6 (second caution – Ejection)

DCU – Felipe 71’ (caution)

DCU – Russell Canouse 82’ (caution)

MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT STANDINGS

GROUP CWLTGFGAGDPTS.
New England Revolution1001013
D.C. United0012201
Toronto FC0012201
Montreal Impact01001-10

MEDIA NOTES

  • Toronto FC extended its club-record unbeaten run in MLS regular season matches to 13 (5 wins and 8 ties) – courtesy of Opta
  • Ayo Akinola recorded the first two-goal match of his career/first brace with Toronto FC

LINE-UPS

TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez (Eriq Zavaleta 64’), Chris Mavinga (Lauren Ciman 64’), Justin Morrow (Richie Laryea HT’); Michael Bradley (C), Mark Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo (Nick DeLeon 77’); Pablo Piatti (Erickson Gallardo 73’), Tsubasa Endoh, Ayo Akinola

Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Griffin Dorsey, Liam Fraser, Noble Okello, Jacob Shaffelburg, Patrick Mullins, Jayden Nelson

D.C. UNITED – Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum (C), Joseph Mora (Chris Odoi-Atesem 69’); Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura (Federico Higuain 80’), Edison Flores (Yamil Asad 57’), Felipe, Julian Gressel (Kevin Paredes 58’); Ola Kamara (Oniel Fisher HT’)

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Griffin Yow, Donovan Pines, Mohammed Abu, Moses Nyeman, Erik Sorga

GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC

Can you talk about the late collapse? What happened?

I think a couple of things. On a day like that, today, going into it if you can get a lead like we had, our objective would be to not make changes across the backline, but more to keep fresh bodies ahead of the ball. But at halftime Justin had some Achilles tendinitis issues. He’s pretty sore. And then 10 minutes into the second half, Omar’s cramping up. He can’t take another step. Right before the water break Chris is cramping up. This is the first game in extreme temperatures and the question becomes how much do you really push guys in the first game of the tournament, and your first game in months, and so we went with the changes. I thought that really disrupted our ability to start attacks and keep possession of the ball and also, we struggled in some of the transition defending. We committed too many fouls, things like that. I felt like at that point we started to lose a bit of the momentum and a bit of the possession that you want when you’re playing against a team that’s down a man. The second part of that is we needed to continue to try to attack and look for the third goal. And not just pass the ball around. But really look for our moments to try to put them on their heels and force them to have to defend their goal, and not just be in relatively comfortable defensive positions. I think a part of this is just us learning as a group. Being more diligent managing the temperature a little bit better. Things like that. But we were in a position to win the game, we should have won the game with class. Obviously, the last goal is defending a set piece. We knew if we gave them anything in our half of the field, they’re just going to dump it into the box and look for first and second balls. Birnbaum, both centre backs they have, are both good in the air. And that was it. For me that was it. We’re a mature team that should close things out. But it looked like some guys weren’t really in sync when they came in … Some poor play in terms of starting attacks and some poor play in defending.

What was the post-game scuffle about?

I think there’s opinion and emotion, specifically on DC’s side, as to our delay getting down here. This game’s been rescheduled three times. If you want to blame us, you can. For them, that’s been maybe their mantra to get through this game, and maybe give them the best chance to be in the game, to have that extra emotion. And then in the end we allow them the opportunity to pump out their chest when they come back from a two-goal deficit down a man, and to show some bravado at the end. If we win the game and close out the game the way we should, none of that probably happens. It probably goes to rest. But it was visible, and I’d heard some things were said on Twitter. I think that’s just two sides who have differing opinions on what has happened over the last week to two weeks to get this game actually played. At the end it becomes emotional as they bounce back from a two-goal deficit when they look like they were done.

What’s the message now with the Montreal game coming up on Thursday?

Not much message yet. Just caught up with guys individually. The way things are set up we have a really small locker room. We’re trying to maintain some version of social distancing. Guys are getting in and out. A lot of things are happening. We really haven’t recapped the game with the group the way we will. That’s it. Everyone knows going into this, the way things have happened over the last few days, we’re in a quick turnaround. I think that’s a good thing because you get off the field a little frustrated and the quick turnaround to get back on the field is going to be a good thing. We’ll get regrouped. We’ll get recovered. Guys need to get hydrated, all those things. We’ll see where we’re at physically and we’ll try to reset a game plan for Montreal.

Update on Jozy and Jonathan?

Jonathan is kind of targeted for the third game to get ready. These first two games are so close together. He had a bit of a quad injury from a few weeks back. He’s on schedule and/or slightly exceeding schedule to get back. I think the Montreal game, as quickly as it’s coming around is going to be a tough one, but we’ll see. And Jozy, from the time when he was able to get back in, he’s only got about 10 training sessions under his belt, four of those were individual quarantined training sessions. So, we’re just trying to make sure we’re getting him ready to play without putting him out there and putting him in harm’s way. While this event is important for us, it’s the first part of this new season and we want to make Jozy is healthy and we don’t put him at risk. Part of that is just trying to get him as much high intensity work. Some sprints and things like that, he hasn’t been able to do as much, coming back from being, basically in isolation for so long. And so, we taking a progression. All the guys are on the same progression except for Jozy and now he’s getting close. We hope to have him ready for, if not for some minutes next game, for sure by the third game is a definitive target to have him ready to be a part of it on some level.

MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC

The team looked so good for most of the game. What happened at the end?

Yeah, disappointing. like you said we had things completely under control for big parts of the game. But it still shows that if you drop your guard just a little bit, if the mentality starts to…if you start to take your foot off the gas a little bit and think the game is over before it actually is, then especially on days like this where it’s hot and humid and nobody’s at their best or their sharpest yet, you let a team back in the game. So, it’s disappointing, frustrating, but there’s still a lot of positives to take from the first 60-70 minutes. We’re still playing our way back into fitness.

Is letting teams back into games something the team needs to address?

I’m not sure I’d call it a tendency. It’s a little bit too easy of a conclusion to come to. I understand in the first game in San Jose this year we let them back in it with a late equalizer, and then again today. The games were separated by four and a half months, a lot of days of no training. We’re angry with ourselves, we’re frustrated. For a team that wants to be as good as we do, for a team that holds itself to the standards that we do, there’s no way you should let a team like that back into the game today. But I’m not going to sit here and draw all sorts of crazy conclusions based on the first game back in a really long time, under these circumstances.

What would you make of Pablo Piatti’s debut?

I think Pablo has shown in the last few weeks, as we’ve ramped up training and as we’ve started to get closer to real games, that he has real quality. He has a good mentality, he works, he can obviously attack and dribble by guys. Early on, we were trying to figure out the best ways we could use him. In training we’d use him on the left, and now lately, he’s found a really good way to combine with Auro, with Alejandro Pozuelo, over there on the right side. The three of them have a really good understanding. I think you saw some of that today. As he and we all get fitter and sharper, I think you’ll see more and more of that.

What do you think the team has to improve for the next game?

The teams that have the most success in these types of tournaments are the ones that can play themselves into the tournament in a good way. If you want to be one of the teams that’s playing at the end, then you grow into the tournament, you improve with every game. Nobody’s at their best in the beginning. From that perspective we’re disappointed that we didn’t take all three points today. But we all know that you have to take something from the first game, we did that, and we’ll recover mentally and physically over the next few days, talk about some things  and we’ll get ready for the second game and we’ll look to be even better. 

What did you see form Ayo today?

Ayo’s had a really, really good stretch. He’s fit, he’s sharp, he has such a unique package in terms of being strong, fast, he has good feet, he’s smart in how he can move off the centre backs. When he plays like that there isn’t any centre back who’s going to enjoy playing against him. I’m really happy to see him get his reward today and we’re going to continue to need him to step up for us in a big way. But from a personal standpoint I’m really happy for him because he’s worked really hard in this last stretch. He’s trained really well and for anybody, you want to see guys get their reward when the lights come on. And he got that today.

AYO AKINOLA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC

When did you first hear that you were going to get the start and what were your thoughts?

I think I heard it a day or two before the game, that I was going to be in the starting lineup. And in that moment, I just thought, how can I take my chance, my opportunity and seize the moment. Obviously, that helps when you can score goals, and thankfully I was able to score two today.

Talk about Justin Morrow’s leadership with the Black Players For Change?

I was very proud of Justin. Just the way he was able to set up the whole thing in a little over two and a half weeks, to create everything. Justin has been a great leader for us, especially to the young players, giving us guidance. Just giving us motivation. For me, seeing that and all the black players coming together before that first game. That was a proud moment for us, the black players especially. I really do appreciate everyone listening. Just being able to be heard, you know, I feel like that’s a step forward. We’re not there yet, but at least it’s a step.

You came so close in the final seconds with that looping header. Did you think it was going in?

At one point, I did. I think as soon as I hit it, I thought it was going in. Then I saw Bill (Hamid) coming for it and I thought, damn, he’s going to save it. But at one point, I thought it was going to go in, just hit off the post and go in. That was my initial reaction.

Walk us through the two goals on the second one was that a pass from Pozuelo or a shot that went askew?

I think it was kind of both (laughs). I thought he was going to chip it my way. Luckily, I kept going. I didn’t stop. Your instinct as a forward is to keep going no matter what happens. Even if it’s a rebound or a bad ball, keep going toward the goal.

-TORONTO FOOTBALL CLUB-

Toronto FC blow two-goal lead, draw 10-man D.C. United

Defender Frederic Brillant completed a late comeback with a 91st-minute goal as 10-man D.C. United rallied to tie Toronto FC 2-2 Monday morning at the MLS is Back Tournament in a matchup twice delayed by COVID-19 concerns.

The Canadian Press

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Defender Frederic Brillant completed a late comeback with a 91st-minute goal as 10-man D.C. United rallied to tie Toronto FC 2-2 Monday morning at the MLS is Back Tournament in a matchup twice delayed by COVID-19 concerns.

Ayo Akinola, in a rare start, scored twice in the first half to give Toronto a commanding 2-0 lead at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. But things turned in the 84th minute as D.C. United scored against the run of play.

Substitute Federico Higuain, in his D.C. United debut after a decorated career in Columbus, started the rally with a chip over Quentin Westberg after the heart of a reshuffled Toronto defence was sliced open by a pass from Brazil’s Felipe.

Brillant completed the unlikely comeback, rising above Laurent Ciman to head in the tying goal in stoppage time, after Steven Birnbaum headed the ball to him at the far post from a Felipe free kick.

Akinola came close to restoring the Toronto lead in the 96th minute but Bill Hamid got a hand to his header.

There was some bad blood after the final whistle of a game that saw some ugly tackles.

D.C. United played the second half with 10 men after midfielder Junior Moreno received a second yellow for going through the back of Marky Delgado in first-half stoppage time.

Toronto used its man advantage in the second half, stroking the ball around the field, and seemed cruising to a commanding win until the bottom fell out.

The two teams were originally scheduled to meet Friday night but that was pushed back to Sunday due to Toronto’s late arrival (July 6), caused by the need for additional COVID-19 testing after a member of the travelling part reported symptoms.

Sunday’s game was called off minutes before the 9 a.m. ET kickoff in the wake of a positive test for a D.C. United player and an inconclusive test for a Toronto player.

All other players tested negative in a round of new testing. The two players in question, neither of which were identified by their clubs, were isolated pending receipt of a second negative test.

The tournament, which marks the league’s first action since it shut down March 12 due to the global pandemic, has already lost FC Dallas and Nashville SC due to a rash of positive COVID-19 tests.

There was no evidence of rust as Toronto pressed D.C. and attacked on multiple fronts despite the absence of star striker Jozy Altidore.

Captain Michael Bradley, in his first game since injuring his ankle in the Nov. 10 MLS Cup final, was a force in the midfield. Fullbacks Justin Morrow and Brazil’s Auro bombed down the flanks in the first half.

Akinola scored in the 12th minute, beating one defender and then splitting two more before hammering in a right-footed shot from the edge of the box. The goal came after Hamid’s goal kick went straight to Bradley in the D.C. end, with an Alejandro Pozuelo pass eventually finding Akinola.

The 20-year-old scored again in the 44th minute after Pozuelo beat Brillant to the ball following an 11-pass Toronto sequence. Pozuelo floated the ball to the far post where an unmarked Akinola tapped it in

Akinola came into the match with one goal in 12 career MLS appearances (including two starts) spread over three seasons. It was his first MLS game action since June 29, 2019 — and first start since May 8, 2019.

The game finally kicked off at 9:08 a.m. in 28 C heat. Both teams arrived wearing masks and Black Lives Matter T-shirts, taking a knee before kickoff.

Pablo Piatti, making his TFC debut, had the game’s first chance in the sixth minute after Pozuelo found him on the edge of the box. But the Argentine winger dragged his shot just wide.

Akinola, a U.S. youth international, had a chance for a second goal in the 19th minute after Tsubasa Endoh found him with a slide-rule pass but Hamid stopped his weak shot from out wide.

Westberg made a remarkable one-handed save to stop Ola Kamara’s header from point-blank range in first-half stoppage time.

Akinola was scythed down by Felipe with 20 minutes remaining, earning the midfielder a yellow card. It was one of several ill-tempered tackles from D.C. United on the day.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney made changes in the second half, sending on Richie Laryea, Eriq Zavaleta, Ciman, Erickson Gallardo and Nick DeLeon.

Toronto’s next Group C game is Thursday against the Montreal Impact, who lost their opener 1-0 to the New England Revolution last Thursday.

The three group games count in the regular-season standings with Toronto now at 1-0-2 and D.C. United at 1-1-1.

Toronto went with the same starting 11 announced Sunday.

While it fielded the same back five as it had in its last league game March 7, there were four changes further forward — Bradley, Piatti, Endoh and Akinola.

Altidore did not make the matchday 23. He was late joining the team after spending the lockdown at his Florida home and had to train on his own while fulfilling quarantine.

Jonathan Osorio didn’t dress due to a quad strain, according to Toronto.

D.C. United made one change from the starting 11 that beat Inter Miami 2-1 last time out on March 7. Costa Rican Ulises Segura came in for Argentina’s Yamil Asad, who dropped to the bench.

Estonian international Erik Sorga, who played 75 minutes off the bench against Inter Miami, did not make the matchday 23.

It was another early wake-up call for the two teams, with Toronto planning a 5:30 a.m. pre-game meal for the second day in a row. That was pre-empted by a team Zoom call Sunday to discuss the COVID-19 tests.

Toronto knocked D.C. United out of the playoffs the last time they met, scoring four goals in extra time in a 5-1 first-round win in October.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

MLS forced to postpone D.C. United vs Toronto FC after positive coronavirus test | Goal.co — nyob.news

The MLS match between D.C. United and Toronto FC has been postponed just minutes before it was scheduled to kick off.

MLS forced to postpone D.C. United vs Toronto FC after positive coronavirus test | Goal.co — nyob.news

MLS forced to postpone D.C. United vs Toronto FC after positive coronavirus test | Goal.co

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The MLS match between D.C. United and Toronto FC has been postponed just minutes before it was scheduled to kick off.
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D.C. United Toronto

Sunday’s MLS match between D.C. United and Toronto FC has been postponed after a player tested positive for coronavirus.

The announcement was made just minutes before it was scheduled to kick off and the league is yet to announce a new date or time for the match.

The match was called off after one D.C. United player tested positive for Covid-19, while a Toronto player’s test came back inconclusive.

The players were tested the previous day but had to be checked again on Sunday morning and in the interests of health and safety the league has decided to reschedule the match.

A statement read: “Major League Soccer announced that today’s D.C. United vs. Toronto FC match has been postponed and will be rescheduled. MLS will announce details later today for the rescheduled match.

“Under the league’s health and safety protocols, clubs are tested the day before each match. The results of yesterday’s tests for D.C. United and Toronto FC produced an initial unconfirmed positive Covid-19 case for one player and an inconclusive test for another player.

“Because of the arrival time of the clubs in Orlando, the league’s protocol called for retesting both teams this morning and to await the results of those tests prior to playing the match.

“Major League Soccer will continue to prioritize the health and safety of all participants of the MLS is Back Tournament in making these decisions.”

Mark Abbott, the league’s deputy commissioner, explained further: ”Each team was tested the game before and two results we are re-evaluating.

“One for D.C. is a positive test, but not a final positive. With Toronto we had one that is an inconclusive test and we are re-evaluating that.”

He added: “Once we receive the results of the two tests we will be in a position to know when to re-schedule the game.”

The MLS is Back tournament being held in Florida has been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic since before it began on July 8.

The competition’s schedule had to be changed just a day before the opening game because FC Dallas and Nashville SC had to withdraw before because several players tested positive for Covid-19.

Like this:

Nashville out of MLS tournament after 9 players test positive for coronavirus — Daily News

Nashville SC has withdrawn from Major League Soccer’s MLS is Back tournament in Florida after nine players tested positive for the coronavirus, the league announced Thursday. Nashville is the second team to withdraw from the tournament. FC Dallas had to pull out after 10 players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19. “Due to the…

Nashville out of MLS tournament after 9 players test positive for coronavirus — Daily News

MLS Players Hold Powerful Black Lives Matter Demonstration Before Game — NESN.com

Major League Soccer on Wednesday made its return in Orlando, Fla., but one of the biggest stories emerged before the game kicked off. Prior to Orlando City’s thrilling 2-1 win over Inter Miami, Black players participating in the MLS Is Back Tournament joined Orlando and Miami players on the field and stood together for a…

MLS Players Hold Powerful Black Lives Matter Demonstration Before Game — NESN.com

FC Dallas bows out of MLS return due to positive test results — ProFootballTalk

American sports leagues like to think they’re always in control of their situations. As they try to resume or commences seasons, each is being periodically reminded that, when it comes to a pandemic, the virus controls the situation. Case in point: As Major League Soccer tries to resume its season, FC Dallas has bowed out. […]

FC Dallas bows out of MLS return due to positive test results — ProFootballTalk

American sports leagues like to think they’re always in control of their situations. As they try to resume or commences seasons, each is being periodically reminded that, when it comes to a pandemic, the virus controls the situation.

Case in point: As Major League Soccer tries to resume its season, FC Dallas has bowed out. Via ESPN.com, the club has experienced a total of 14 positive cases — 13 players and one coach.

The team was due to face the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday. Dallas has now pulled out of that match, and all others it would have played.

The even is scheduled to run from July 8 through August 11. It will commence with one fewer team.

LAFC, Galaxy, Toronto FC, Rapids, Whitecaps round out MLS arrivals — SBI Soccer

While one team is on the way out, five others just made their way in. The flights to the MLS is Back Tournament were completed on Monday following the arrivals of a handful of clubs. Toronto FC, LAFC, the LA (…)

LAFC, Galaxy, Toronto FC, Rapids, Whitecaps round out MLS arrivals — SBI Soccer

MLS postpones opening match of tournament after several FC Dallas players test positive for COVID-19 — 360APROKO

Major League Soccer announced Saturday that it would be postponing the first match of the MLS is Back Tournament scheduled for Thursday after several FC Dallas members tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Florida. MLS issued a statement announcing that the game between FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps FC would be postponed to an […]

MLS postpones opening match of tournament after several FC Dallas players test positive for COVID-19 — 360APROKO

Major League Soccer announced Saturday that it would be postponing the first match of the MLS is Back Tournament scheduled for Thursday after several FC Dallas members tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Florida.

MLS issued a statement announcing that the game between FC Dallas and Vancouver Whitecaps FC would be postponed to an undisclosed later date after 9 players and one coach on Dallas tested positive for coronavirus.

FC DALLAS SEES 9 PLAYERS TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AHEAD OF MLS TOURNAMENT: REPORT

The league also said that Vancouver was delayed in arriving at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando earlier this week after two players’ test results came back inconclusive for COVID-19 during the teams pre-travel screening.

The results eventually came back negative and the team will arrive on Monday.

The decision to cancel the first match of the tournament comes just after news broke that several members of FC Dallas tested positive upon arriving for the tournament.

The club initially confirmed Wednesday that six players were infected but reports emerged later that day that three more players and one coach had also tested positive.

“In consultation with MLS medical officials, FC Dallas took proactive steps to isolate the newly affected players as well as all FC Dallas players and staff in Orlando out of an abundance of caution. All members of the club delegation are following MLS health and safety protocols and will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further COVID-19 testing,” the statement read.

Both teams will play their first game on July 15.

“The later match date will allow both teams additional training days in Orlando in advance of their first match,” the league said in a statement.

TFC postpones trip

TORONTO FC TRAVEL UPDATE

Toronto FC today announced that the team’s travel to Orlando, Florida has been postponed. 

This morning, a member of the Toronto FC travel party reported experiencing symptoms to the team medical staff. The individual is isolating at home and is being assessed virtually by team medical staff.

The entire Toronto FC travel party will undergo another round of testing and will not travel to Orlando until those test results are received. Further travel details will be provided when available. 

-TORONTO FOOTBALL CLUB-