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It’s a stat that hit the Toronto FC fanbase like a kick in the chops.
With TFC’s 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew on Saturday night at BMO Field, the Reds became the first team in MLS history to take a lead in each of its first three matches of a season but fail to win any of them. On top of that, Toronto hasn’t won since a 2-0 victory over Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium on Aug.27, 2022.
Again, TFC’s loyal supporters are getting restless. Toronto has two draws and a loss after three games this season. This is supposed to be the big rebound year after the team missed the playoffs the last two seasons. The front office made wholesale changes to the roster in the off-season but there is still a stench of under-performance in the air.
“Not happy,” summed up TFC coach Bob Bradley after Saturday’s tie.
Ajax native Deandre Kerr put TFC ahead 1-0 in the 25th minute against the Crew when he picked up a great pass from Jonathan Osorio, guided the ball between the legs of Columbus defender Milos Degenek and then scored via a left-footed blast. But Jimmy Medranda tied it for the Crew in the 75th minute. Initially, Medranda’s goal was ruled off-side, but after checking with VAR, it was later rewarded to Columbus.
TFC held second-half leads in all three regular season matches this year but had to settle for a draw or loss. In the season opener at DC United, the Reds led 2-1 before giving up two added-time marks for a 3-2 loss. At Atlanta last week, TFC went ahead 1-0 by a goal from Federico Bernardeschi in the 52nd minute only to concede a late goal and settle for a 1-1 draw. Bradley was satisfied with the effort in that match.
“Last week (in Atlanta) was not what we want football-wise but from a mentality standpoint, on a night where our football wasn’t the best to take a point, it was quite good,” said Bradley. “I mentioned a few times I liked the goal we scored last week. That shows a lot of what we would like to work on. I thought there were moments in the first half (against Columbus) that were pretty good but then in the second half, I didn’t think we did a good enough job of finding a way to get back, get control of the game, play more in their end. So look, I think each game, there’s been bits and pieces of (positives) but no, we are not at the level that I think we can be.
“Just continue to work and work on the next one, that’s our mindset,” said Kerr, of TFC’s start.
“Now it’s just back to the training ground and back to the video, looking at stuff and trying to improve for next Saturday and we’ll give everything to get our first win.
“Columbus had their first chances. We had our fair chances. But you know, you always want to come out with the win,” added Kerr. “So for us, it almost feels like a loss for us because we’re home, we’re in front of our fans for the first time. We were so close to that win and then we concede late. But again, we are already thinking about next week and we’ll be ready on Saturday.”
Part of Toronto’s problem is that it’s a revamped squad still trying to bond as a unit. On top of that, the injury bug has already reared its ugly head. On Saturday, for the second straight match, the Reds were without their star winger Lorenzo Insigne. The former Napoli star trained with the club all week and there was optimism that he would be able to play against the Crew. But Bradley said on Friday that Insigne will still feeling the affects of his groin strain, so he was ruled out. They need the attacking dynamo up front along side countryman Bernardeschi in order to sustain an attack. Saturday’s match was the first time this season Bernardeschi didn’t score this season.
Toronto was also missing its two top forwards – Adama Diomande and Ayo Akinola – who were out with hamstring injuries – hence Bradley’s decision to start the 20-year-old Kerr, who stepped up admirably.
To make matters worse, Sean Johnson was hit in the head on Saturday by a fan who threw the ball back on to the field. The first-year Toronto keeper went down for a couple of minutes but was able to continue. The Reds also lost new left-back Raoul Petretta in the 73rd minute after he experienced what Bradley described as “tightness”.
“I think Ayo has a good chance to be back next week. I think Dio might be a week or two more,” said Bradley. “I’m hopeful for Lorenzo, but you’ve got to see what happens as he’s training and moving. I’m hopeful that it’s not (serious). We did a scan, I think there’s potentially another scan to make sure it’s nothing more. The initial scan was very minor but he’s still feeling something with certain actions and we want to be very careful about that.
So I don’t have a clear idea of what that one means.”
A total of seven players made their home debuts for TFC on Saturday – Johnson, Petretta, Matt Hedges, Sigurd Rosted, Brandon Servania, Hugo Mbongue and Kobe Franklin. Víctor Vázquez made his 66th appearance for the club across all competitions, 1,617 days after appearing in his 65th game for the Reds against Vancouver on Oct. 6, 2018.
The Reds host Inter Miami (W2 L1) next Saturday night at BMO Field.
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