Toronto FC Wins Hope Opener in Thriller - Game Report - March 17th, 2019

Nabeela Damji
BarnBurner Sports Writer

@Nabeeladamji

Monday, March 18, 2019


Here’s how Sunday’s TFC match against the New England Revolution played out.

Ayo Akinola scored his first ever MLS goal in front of a home crowd.

Jordan Hamilton scored a controversial goal on his 23rd Birthday.

Jozy Altidore came back after a lengthy injury and netted the game-winner.

 

Could you have scripted it any better?

No, not really” said TFC coach Greg Vanney.

 

TFC knocked off the Revolution 3-2 in front of 23 thousand fans in their home opener, and it was a thriller from start to finish. 

Carles Gil scored both goals for New England, who have now dropped two straight games.

Things didn’t start off the right way for Toronto.  After a solid defensive performance in the opening minutes, defender Chris Mavinga karate chopped New England forward Teal Bunbury’s leg out from under him in the Red’s box, giving the lovely gift of a penalty kick, with Carles Gil making it 1-0.

Toronto remained in possession and answered back within five minutes when 19-year-old Akinola spun away from two defenders and took on a couple more before finishing with a low curler that found its way inside the far post for his first ever MLS goal. 

“It was a dream come true to get my first MLS start.  I honestly don’t know who passed me the ball, but I feel like we were losing so I just had to try something, try to get the crowd going”

Jay Chapman broke behind the New England defense and set up Hamilton for the 2-1 lead. 

“It’s safe to say that it’s probably up there with one of my best birthdays,” Hamilton said.

With that came controversy as Chapman was in an offside position when he received the ball.   Postgame Vanney gave his interpretation of the call “If a player is in an offside position, and the ball is played to that player in the offside position if it were to go directly to him he would be offside. But if a defender makes an effort to make a play on the ball and touches the ball then the offside is then nullified, so if the defender just lets it go it would be offside, if ti defects off the defender and he couldn't do anything about it he would be offside, but if he actually makes a physical move to try to make a play he then bring him back onside.”

 

TFC lead at halftime, but Gil made it 2-2 on an easy goal that was deflected off of defender Auro and past the reach of Alex Bono.   

The game was deadlocked.

  Enter Jozy Altidore.

The American, who hadn’t played since October 2018, was subbed in at the 68th minute and by the 80th, had done his job.  Justin Morrow fired a low ball across the penalty area and Altidore tapped it in to give the Reds a 3-2 lead.

“To be able to come [off the bench] and score the winner in a game like this where we did everything we could to get the three points, it’s a great feeling,” said Altidore.

Vanney was happy with the play of his younger players saying “For Jordan and Ayo, they’re continuing to battle for their minutes, so it was nice for them to compete the way they did and play well.”

Captain Michael Bradley echoed those sentiments saying “They’ve both made progress and it’s not always been easy for them…This isn’t an easy club to play for as a [youngster].  There’s pressure, there’s a lot of good players, they have to deal with me- and I can be hard on those guys sometimes, but I do it because I love them, and I know how much they have to give.”

Altidore had a more blunt way of praising his fellow teammates. “I kick their ass every day, and they’ll be the first to tell you.  For me, [Hamilton] is already one of the best Canadian strikers, if not the best.  With Ayo, you saw glimpses from him last year and he’s made huge leaps this year already.”

Here’s to more ass kicking and tough love both on and off the field.