Toronto and New England Play to Scoreless Draw, Both Advance in MLS is Back Tournament
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Orlando, FL--- Toronto FC and New England Revolution closed out their group stage play by playing to a scoreless draw this morning, which will now see both advancing to the knockout rounds.
Toronto FC and New England Revolution had been tied for top spot in Group C, so there was still something to play off as the winner could have a much more favourable matchup in the knockout stage. Toronto were coming off their 4-3 win over rivals Montreal Impact this past Thursday, while New England played DC United to a 1-1 draw on Friday.
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney made a couple adjustments in his starting-XI; Alex Bono starting in-goal for the first time in this MLS is Back Tournament, Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez, Chris Mavinga, and Richie Laryea on the backline, Nick DeLeon, Marky Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo, Pablo Piatti, and captain Michael Bradley in the midfield, and Ayo Akinola, who scored a hat-trick in Thursday’s win, as the lone striker.
The 9 AM matches have not been the most popular timeslot for players due to their early morning routine beginning at around 5 am and then the humidity making for some unpleasant playing conditions.
Toronto were in control for most of the first half however near the end of the half, the momentum began to slowly shift in New England’s favour. There were some great chances for Toronto; Pablo Piatti received an excellent through ball but did not have the amount of space available to connect with a strong enough strike.
New England coach Bruce Arena’s adjustments paid off in the second half and saw his club have more success with their possessions. The Revolution were causing some problems with their pace but like Toronto, were not able to get on the scoresheet.
A bright spot for Toronto was Ayo Akinola, who although did not score in this match, still had plenty of opportunities and had some great link up play with Jozy Altidore when he subbed into the match for the final 5 minutes of play.
The match also saw the MLS debut of Noble Okello, who subbed in for Toronto FC in the second half. The 20-year-old Canadian has been a player many TFC fans have been raving about and could be another young player in their system who makes an impact for the club going forward.
The link up play between Akinola and Altidore, which produced an immediate scoring opportunity; penalty kick but then changed to a free-kick outside the box following VAR, provides Toronto with more options heading into the knockout stage. Akinola’s play especially in the first two matches, where he scored a brace and a hat-trick, has shown that he earned the right to start and a potential formation with both Akinola and Altidore in the starting-XI, instead of playing together in late-game situations, could work.
Depending on the results of tonight’s match between D.C. and Montreal, Toronto could see themselves second in Group C if D.C get the win by two goals, which would also result in New England finishing third.
Photo Credit: Toronto FC