Achara Leads Toronto FC to Victory in Home Opener

Giancarlo Aulino
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Saturday, March 7, 2020

Toronto FC rookie Infunanyachi Achara debuted in style on Saturday night, by scoring what ended up being the game winning goal off a header after a Richie Laryea shot that deflected off a NYCFC defender, leading to Achara heading the ball in the back of the net.

Toronto FC were without two important players; captain Michael Bradley and newest DP signing Pablo Piatti, so there was an opportunity for players to make an impression on management and that is exactly what Achara did tonight.

As soon as the starting lineups were released, all eyes were on Achara. The 22-year old, wearing number 99, was selected 25th overall in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and did not look out of place at any point during the preseason. Anchara must have impressed head coach Greg Vanney in training since then as he was given a massive opportunity to start in the club’s home opener.

Vanney praised Achara during the post-game press conference stating that "he (Achara) was fantastic tonight. From the day he arrived, he has shown he fits in, he is talented, smart, can read plays, has soft feet and a nose for goal." 

Altidore echoed those sentiments during his post-game scum by mentioned advice he gave the Achara and followed up by saying that "from the first day he walked through the door he was positive, full of energy, and it's not a surprise he put in such a good performance tonight."

With Bradley and Piatti sidelined for the time being due to injury, head coach Greg Vanney made a few changes to the starting-XI for the opening match. Vanney went with a 4-4-2 formation with Quentin Westberg starting in-goal, Justin Morrow, Chris Mavinga, Omar Gonzalez, and Auro Jr. on the backline, Jonathan Osorio, Marky Delgado, Erickson Gallardo, and  Infunanyachi Achara as the midfielders, and Alejandro Pozuelo and Jozy Altidore, who served as captain for the second straight match, as the strikers up top.

It looked as though Anchara scored his first MLS goal in the 11th minute after connecting on a cross pass from Jonathan Osorio however, the goal was disallowed after the VAR determined he had received the ball while in an offside position.

Anchara was not fazed or discouraged at all by the disallowed goal and continued to put in a strong performance; he used his agility and strength to his advantage on the offensive end, which almost led to a goal after he struck the ball from outside the box that curled towards goal, but was stopped by NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson. 

Even though NYCFC had majority of possession in the first half, Toronto were the much better team and more goal scoring opportunities.

Toronto continued pushing the pace early in the second half resulting in Altidore getting an opportunity, but he struck the ball wide of the goal. Following Altidore’s opportunity, NYCFC regrouped looked more structured defensively. All was going well for NYCFC until a Toronto counterattack led to Achara getting his first MLS goal.