Toronto FC

Reds extend unbeaten streak to six in Nashville: "Our next step is knowing how to take three points”

Toronto FC picked up another clean-sheet and a point on Saturday evening with a 0-0 draw away to Nashville SC, extending their unbeaten streak to six matches.

It was their third defensive shutout of the season, matching last season’s total just seven games into the campaign.

After an early spell of pressure from the home side, Toronto played their way into the match, wrestling control before half-time and earning the better of the chances in the second half, but neither side could find the breakthrough on the night.

“Overall our mentality, our defending, was good,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “Second half we found a better way to control things. Nashville is very dangerous in transition, but the second half we controlled more of the game and started to create more and more advantages.”

“The next step is that on days like today that we can finish off a play or two when we get the opportunities,” he continued. “But the overall way of going about things, especially the way the second half was played out, was quite good.”

It was TFC’s league-leading fifth draw of 2023.

“Of course, it’s good to have a clean-sheet, but we really wanted the three points today and we had some opportunities,” said Sigurd Rosted. “We felt like we should have done better on those situations, but in the end, one point away is good.”

An early CJ Sapong header from a Jacob Shaffelburg cross nearly caught Toronto early – Matt Hedges was positioned well, but was caught awkwardly in the face by the attempt. He left the match at half-time, replaced by Lukas MacNaughton, who made his first appearance of the season.

Other than that play in the first minute and one potentially troublesome counter from a Toronto corner kick in the second half, Nashville found their chances limited on the night.

That was job one for TFC.

“Yeah, it really was,” said Rosted. “We were talking about they’re dangerous on set-pieces and the counters, so we really wanted to close them down, make a [foul] or stop them up the field early.”

“That was a big focus on the night,” he continued. “The one header and the [counter from our] corner, other than those I can’t think of any big chances at all. That was a good part of the game.”

Toronto nearly found the breakthrough in the 25th minute when a signature Jonathan Osorio run up the right saw him feed Deandre Kerr down the flank, but his ball was just a fraction too close to Dan Lovitz with Mark-Anthony Kaye lunging.

Around the hour-mark Toronto started to really accumulate looks at goal with Federico Bernardeschi in the middle of the action.

Pressure on Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis saw his clearance fall kindly to Brandon Servania, but he couldn’t find an opening.  Bernardeschi then found himself in a free pocket, unselfishly dishing a ball wide to an on-rushing Richie Laryea, but Dax McCarty did enough to disrupt his forward flow in the 74th minute.

A lovely ball from Alonso Coello Camarero sprung Bernardeschi, prompting Nashville to foul the Italian six minutes later. His ensuing free-kick drew the save of the night from Willis, diving to his right to get a hand to the left-footer. In the 85th minute Bernardeschi rolled a through-ball into the path of Osorio, but a sneaky touch from Alex Muyl dispossessed him before he could get off a shot.

And with virtually the final kick of the night, Michael Bradley nearly directed his near-post header in from a Bernardeschi corner kick, a near-carbon copy of his goal against Charlotte FC last weekend.

“Willis made one very good save,” credited Bradley. “Fede kept turning up in good places, kept working to try to create chances for himself, for others.”

“It's a night where it's not like we're creating all sorts of chances and so your attackers have to really work hard to make a difference,” he added. “And Fede, he did a big job at that.”

The defense is sound, the chance creation is there. It’s just that final action that is required to turn one point into three.

“It's just the last missing piece,” said Rosted. “Difficult away game today, if we could turn one of those moments into a little bit bigger margin then we could have scored and taken the three points. That's important to not only get draws like we do at the moment.”

Added Bradley: “Our next step is knowing how to take three points.”