Toronto FC lost a tricky one on Wednesday night, falling 2-1 to the Columbus Crew at BMO Field. 

Sean Zawadzki opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a fierce strike from the top of the box and Darlington Nagbe doubled the visitor’s advantage in the 30th minute with a deft finish on a quick transition.

TFC would pull one back in the 54th minute when Jesús Jiménez got on the end of an Alejandro Pozuelo cross to guide a header into the Crew goal, his eighth goal of the season, but despite ramping up the pressure they could not find the equalizer.

“There's two parts that hurt us,” analyzed Bob Bradley post-match. “A couple careless moments that produced a transition, that's the second goal. And then the other part is just when it came down to the final moments in and around the box.”

“Our ability to [find the] right pass, right kind of finish, those kinds of things. We create a lot of moments where we have an opportunity to do better,” he continued. “I thought we could get even when we go down, I think there's chances to go [ahead] 2-1 in the first half that we don't manage and then we get to 2-1 and there’s chances after that. Quality in and around the box was not what you need in a game like that, especially when you go behind.”

Toronto started brightly, as they have in the last few matches. 

“The first five minutes we got going,” noted Kosi Thompson, who had one of the early looks at goal. “From the 5th minute to the 15th minute, it got away from us, but after that it was a good turnaround.”

Columbus struck first when Jacen Russell-Rowe, the first of two assists for the former TFC Academy prospect, who earlier in the day signed for the Crew’s senior side after his homegrown rights were traded, held up play at the top of the box and laid the ball off for Zawadzki.

“We were too deep defensively,” lamented Bradley. “We dropped into the box and when we had a chance to move our line out and get to the 18 and be a little bit higher, we were too slow.”

“And so now a ball comes loose. It's a good shot,” he continued. “Whether Alex [Bono] sees it, but the main thing for me was they had just a little bit of possession that led up to the goal and we had an opportunity to move up three, four yards.”

The Crew’s second was a quick transition from a midfield turnover that caught TFC moving in the opposite direction. Three passes and it was on Nagbe’s right-boot and in the back of the net.

Through the remaining hour Toronto bossed large stretches of the match, dominating possession, shots, shots on goal, passes, xG, all the attacking statistics, but the clock and a determined defensive effort from Columbus proved too much.

“Maybe if there is another five minutes, we could have pulled one more, but ultimately the comeback wasn't good enough,” said Thompson. “If we were able to stop at least one of the goals against, 100% we could have won the game.”

Since returning from the international break, chance creation has not been an issue for TFC. Even in the loss away to the New York Red Bulls, they had more than enough opportunities on goal.

But it has been converting those chances into goals that needs attention. Against CF Montreal and Atlanta United wastefulness was not punished in the end, on Wednesday it was.

“We need to decide better in the last part of the field,” stressed Pozuelo. “We have a lot of chances. We created good chances to score more goals. This is one of the things that we need to improve, to have more calm in the last minute.”

That is the next step for TFC.

“We're improving,” underlined Bradley. “Are we all the way there? No, so we've got to be strong. We're not yet at a point that when we improve a little bit that automatically it takes off. It's got to be that we continue to improve in all categories.”

“They had three shots on goal and two goals,” he noted. “We needed to be better when we got in and around the final third and in the box. Those are things that just have to be developed and worked on.”

When they do, look out.

“That, with everything else – trying to perfect build-up play and everything else – that final pass, that final strike, if that can tie everything together then I think we're going to rocket for the rest of the season,” suggested Thompson. “That's pretty much what we were missing today and the last couple of games we showed that we have that quality, that we can do it. Once it starts rolling in every single game, we can do wonders.”

Despite the defeat, TFC feel that a corner has been turned and with reinforcements arriving soon they are eager for what lies ahead.

“Yeah, I feel [we are playing better],” replied Pozuelo. “We’re still improving some things, but the team feels better in these last games. Obviously this is important.”

“We know that Lorenzo [Insigne] is coming, [Domenico] Criscito also is coming,” he added. “We are happy to have them in the team. We know they are good players.”

The busy schedule continues on Saturday with Seattle Sounders FC coming to BMO Field, a match that will end this ferocious run of matches. The home stand ends the following Saturday with the visit of the San Jose Earthquakes, the first match for which Insigne and Criscito will be available.

It’s been hectic, playing a game every three or four days for two weeks.

“Definitely tiring. Physically it's tiring, mentally,” said Thompson. “Get a good night's sleep and focus on the next game at hand.”

That’s the MLS summer grind.

“It’s hard, but we need to be ready,” said Pozuelo. “We have a young team. If they want to play in Europe, they need to play on Wednesday and Saturday, Wednesday and Saturday. You need to be ready to play during the week and on the weekend. There’s no excuse. We need to be ready to play.”

“We are professionals. We need to have good rest, good food, everything to help the body to be ready,” he added. “If I can play Saturday and Wednesday, the players who are 22 years old, need to play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.”