Toronto FC played New York City FC yesterday in the quarter-finals of the MLS is Back tournament. In the hot Orlando weather, TFC melted under pressure.


The Lineup

Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney had some interesting changes to his lineup without the services of forward Ayo Akinola (albeit, was on an absolute tear in this tournament).  His replacement was 17 year old, the Canadian International, Jayden Nelson.  Although this is an incredible accomplishment for Nelson, it was hard to justify the change. Nelson did not look comfortable out there with his role or position. Without Akinola, a more realistic approach could have seen LW Jacob Shaffelburg fill in the gap on the left side given the formation. But, with or without these changes, the lineup on the field did not live up to its potential.

The Game

TFC looked very lethargic throughout the match. NYC looked much fitter on the night and it showed. A tremendous amount of giveaways and breakdowns defensively and in the midfield gave New York quality goal scoring opportunities. They pounced in the 5th minute off a poor clearance from TFC CDM Michael Bradley. While every TFC player was watching the ball, NYC CM Jesus Medina peeled away, received the ball, took a first touch and blasted the ball past Quentin Westberg. The boys in Red were outworked and outhustled the entire first half. Early in the second half, NYCFC got their brace as Valentin Castellanos, who was causing TFC CB Omar Gonzalez all kinds of trouble in the back the entire game, cut inside and shot it low in the corner of the net. As a TFC fan, you can just sense this game slipping away. It was very difficult to watch. The game finished 3-1 in favour of NYCFC.

What Now?

After watching this match, Toronto FC needs to re-group for the MLS season. One could argue the weather and tired legs were a major factor, but it is just not good enough. After an impressive showing in the group stage, it is a very disappointing exit. TFC needs to find what worked for them in the past which was dictating the pace of the game.