In the history of BMO Field, there haven’t been many spectacles more entertaining than Wednesday night’s tilt between Toronto FC and D.C. United.
Unless you are the head coach of one of the two teams, that is. Greg Vanney and Ben Olsen were just left with a bunch of heartburn after a game TFC captain Michael Bradley described as “a crazy night.”
That it was. In a game that will long be remembered, the Reds survived the team’s worst half of the season, falling behind 3-0 at the break and a deflating 90th-minute strike that put them on the wrong side of the score-line again, to pull out a stunning 4-4 draw.
Despite gaining 60% of possession in the first 45 minutes and two glorious early chances, TFC was forced into all kinds of mistakes by D.C.’s aggressive pressure and a strong wind down by Lake Ontario.
The result was a seemingly insurmountable three-goal deficit and an angry serenade from the 23,011 on hand as they walked to the back, the first time in ages the team has been jeered at home.
Vanney could have piled on, but wisely pushed the right buttons.
“I know a lot of people probably think they needed a bollocking at halftime, but I think I have a decent feel of the group, and I didn’t necessarily think that that was where we were at,” Vanney said. “I felt like they needed a clear plan, a little push to believe they could do this. We needed to be confident, we needed to be aggressive, we needed to play without fear, play without concern of losing a pass, but to play aggressive, to play forward, to go for it.”
The return of all-star left back Justin Morrow, who Vanney called afterward the best at his position in the league, certainly helped as the Reds responded, tilting the field in coming out of the break looking a lot more like the defending league champions, taking the game to the visitors consistently.
Jonathan Osorio — with his third in two games — struck first in the 56th minute, Victor Vazquez added another in the 64th and Nick Hagglund pulled the Reds level in the 86th. With all of the momentum and the crowd in hysterics (a crowd that it should be noted was missing many of its die-hards, who weren’t in their regular section) TFC seemed poised to complete the miracle win. However Yamil Asad, who had opened the scoring way back in the 12th minute, had other ideas. Asad was given a no-doubter gift by Patrick Mullins in the 90th minute and appeared to stick the nail in the coffin.
But Hagglund struck again two minutes into stoppage time and Toronto moved within four points of the final playoff spot in the East heading into an 11-day World Cup break, thanks to Montreal’s 3-0 shutout over Orlando.
TFC had blown a 3-0 road lead at Columbus two weeks ago only to see D.C. do the same thing (and even go one better) on this night.
They will take positives out of the comeback — “wild game, given the way it started, can’t be too picky about taking a point from this one,” Vanney said — but also rue the dropped points in a season full of games where they felt they could have gained more.
“In the first half we were so poor,” Bradley said. “The second half is a decent response, but these are games we should win.
Still, Toronto improved to 4-2-7, picking up a point for the first time after surrendering the first goal (0-1-7) this season and got the finest Sebastian Giovinco outing in some time.
It was an odd evening, to say the least. From the early collapse, to the jeers, to the missing supporters: A sign in the stands read: “Football without Ultras is nothing!!”; to the shocking final few minutes.
D.C. put Toronto in a dire hole. Credit the Reds for digging their way out of it and crawling into the desperately needed break riding at least a bit of momentum.
“We have to recharge mentally, physically and look at ourselves in a real, honest way and make sure that in the second half of the season we rediscover a little bit of life and energy and enthusiasm,” Bradley said.
“So many makeshift lineups. So many days when you’re just trying to scrounge anything together to come away with points, that wears on you in a big way … We have to put all of that behind us.”
HAGGLUND DOES IT ALL
If Toronto FC was going to go down, it wouldn’t be without a fight on Wednesday night.
It was full speed ahead, damn the torpedos after the club fell behind 3-0.
And it was an unsung hero playing a major role in the eventual comeback, 4-4 draw in Nick Hagglund.
Hagglund recently returned from injury, ideally as a stabilizer in the middle of the defence. He played a full 90 minutes last Friday at Philadelphia, allowing Michael Bradley to return to his regular spot in the midfield.
But on Wednesday Hagglund contributed at the other end, scoring Toronto’s thrilling third and fourth goals, a pair of equalizers.
“Vanney told me to abandon centre back and move forward,” Hagglund explained afterward of how he ended up in the thick of the offensive action.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies