Reds Fall Short In Preseason Finale
Photo: Darren O'Dea received a red card at the 57th minute (Getty)
Toronto FC finished its slate of preseason matches on Saturday, ending a goal and a man short at the final whistle in a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic.
The lone goal arrived at the 23rd minute through KC’s designated player Claudio Bieler. The Reds finished with 10 players when Darren O’Dea was sent off for an altercation with Matt Besler at the 57th minute.
KC opened the first 10 with purpose, at the end of which they nearly nicked a goal but for TFC keeper Joe Bendik turning aside a shot from inside a crowded area.
Toronto was much more assertive thereafter. Luis Silva in particular caused great discomfort to KC by running at defenders and drawing fouls. During these charges Reggie Lambe had a shot saved by Jimmy Nielsen at the 20th minute. Two minutes later Silva dribbled into the area and found Lambe again before he was stripped of the ball 15-yards from goal.
Not being able to capitalize hurt Toronto as KC regrouped and attacked from the right flank. Winger Soony Saad was able to evade TFC trialist Justin Davis before delivering a pass to Bieler, who pounced inside the area beating Bendik to his right for a 1-0 lead to KC.
Saad came down that side again five minutes from intermission, hitting the ball high in search of the far corner behind Bendik, who was able to tip the ball away to safety.
In the final moments of the half Silva was brought down harshly 30-yards from goal on another one of his daring runs. The resulting free kick was held by a well-positioned Nielsen before half-time arrived.
Toronto came out attacking at the restart with multiple free kicks won by midfielders Jeremy Hall and Jonathan Osorio in the middle of the park. Reds pushed up with both central defenders O’Dea and Danny Califf looking to get a head to the set-pieces. Each time they were thwarted by Nielsen and his defenders.
Following another set-piece at the 57th minute, already on a caution, O’Dea tempted fate by pushing Besler’s head during a heated exchange before being ejected. Major League Soccer plans to enforce punitive measures against any player that purposely makes contact with an opponent’s head in 2013. O’Dea may have been an early casualty of this strict policy in preseason.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen buttressed the defence by sacrificing Taylor Morgan, who came out of the match for Gale Agbossoumonde. The young American assumed the partnership with Califf at centre back. Silva, after a strong 67 minutes, was replaced by Ashton Bennett, the speedy trialist coming on as a lone forward.
10-man Toronto continued to press for a goal, especially in the final minutes. Agbossoumonde had chances at the 81st and 85th minutes. His attempt went wide of target on the first occasion and he was inches from getting a head to a long set-piece four minutes later before being stymied by Nielsen.
Saad failed to put the match out of Toronto’s reach two minutes from time with a shot from 20-yards that sailed wide of goal.
Reds ventured forward with nothing to lose and it seemed Davis’ replacement Darel Russell had forced Kansas City to handle the ball inside its area at the 90th minute however, the many penalty claims fell on deaf ears with the referee and his assistants unmoved by the appeals.
Toronto played five preseason matches in Orlando. Reds lost 1-0 to Columbus Crew before beating Orlando City 3-0 in the Disney Classic. Those matches were followed a pair of drawn scrimmages against Rollins College (2-2) and Kansas City (3-3) before Saturday’s finale.
Reds face Vancouver Whitecaps FC away in MLS first kick on March 2 before opening its home slate at the Rogers Centre on March 9 against Kansas City. Toronto’s first match at BMO Field in 2013 will be on March 30 versus LA Galaxy.
KC -- Claudio Bieler (Soony Saad, Chance Myers) 23
TOR -- Darren O'Dea (caution; reckless tackle) 15
TOR -- Justin Davis (caution; reckless tackle) 35
KC -- Oriol Rosell (caution; reckless tackle) 48
TOR -- Darren O'Dea (ejection; serious foul play) 57
Toronto FC: Joe Bendik; Richard Eckersley, Danny Califf, Darren O'Dea, Justin Davis* (Darel Russell* 46); Reggie Lambe, Jonathan Osorio* (Terry Dunfield 75), Jeremy Hall (Kyle Bekker 78), Emery Welshmann (Andrew Wiedeman 85); Luis Silva (Ashton Bennett* 67), Taylor Morgan* (Gale Agbossoumonde 60)
Sporting Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers (Mechack Jerome* 58), Aurelien Collin, Matt Besler, Josh Gardner; Benny Feilhaber (Christian Duke* 80), Oriol Rosell, Paulo Nagamura (Peterson Joseph 67); Graham Zusi (Soony Saad 7), Claudio Bieler (Dom Dwyer 75), C.J. Sapong