Toronto FC

Reds fall to league-leading FC Cincinnati: “There’s no time to sulk, we need results”

Toronto FC lost 3-0 to MLS-leading FC Cincinnati on Wednesday night at TQL Stadium.

Santiago Arias broke the deadlock in the 35th minute, reacting quickest to the rebound after Greg Ranjitsingh saved an Alvas Powell header from a corner kick. Luciano Acosta doubled the hosts lead in the 54th minute with a devastating blow after pressure forced a turnover at the top of the Toronto box. And Dominique Badji sealed the result nine minutes later when a quickly taken free-kick in the middle of the park caught TFC out of position.

After a lively opening, it was another frustrating night.

“Especially frustrating when I felt we had a pretty good start to the game,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “Had a pretty good rhythm, had good control, didn't create enough chances, but over the first 20-to-25 minutes we had played our way into the game in a good way.”

“The corner, they got just in front of CJ [Sapong at the near-post, that] left the rebound and we didn't react fast enough,” he continued. “And then the second and third are really tough goals to give up as you're trying to push back into a game.”

Toronto were on the front foot through the opening phases of the match, trying to exploit the absence of key Cincinnati defenders. Federico Bernardeschi whisked a dangerous ball through the box, but nobody could get on the end of it. Jonathan Osorio connected with the Italian on a neat one-two that played Bernardeschi in, but he couldn’t keep his effort on frame under pressure from the goalkeeper.

Then a corner at the other end turned the tide.

“We started the game really well, that was what we wanted to do,” said Aimé Mabika. “[We’re] away from home, but we still wanted to take the game to them and we did well up until the goal.”

“To give up a goal off a set-piece, obviously super disappointing and then after that we stopped – we stopped doing what we had been doing,” he continued. “After that it's really just a game of moments. We start the second half well, then they score, and after that it's really difficult. Just not good enough from us in terms of big defensive moments.”

To concede first after playing so well was tough.

“When we found ourselves down 1-0 that mentally took something out of us,” said Bradley. “We spoke about that at half-time: that when you start well, if something goes against you, you can't let that turn the whole game upside down and our ability, once we went down, to keep going.”

“We started the second half again in a better way,” he noted. “But then immediately hurt ourselves with the second goal.”

Games come down to specific plays, at both ends of the field.

“It’s just moments, attacking moments and defensive moments,” outlined Mabika. “We’re doing some really good stuff over the course of 90 minutes, so [it’s] just staying concentrated.”

“We’re so close,” he continued. “Not tonight, but when to go back to Austin: moments there, Minnesota: moments there, and even last [match] (a 1-1 draw against Nashville SC), maybe we put the game away 2-0.”

TFC will have to regroup quickly as another stiff test awaits on Saturday when they travel to face the New England Revolution, who sit third in the Eastern Conference.

“There’s no time to sulk, we need results,” levelled Mabika. “We can be frustrated all that we want, we need results. That's the bottom line.”

“We were really excited for this game, up for this game: a good test playing a really good team away from home,” he added. “It didn't quite go how we wanted it to. The schedule gets pretty hectic again, so we just have to recover as quickly as possible and try to get a result against another really good team in New England.”

Said Bradley: “That we show moments of good football every game is what we point to, but we've got to be able to sustain it.”

“We've got to be able to eliminate some of those mistakes,” he added. “And we still have to do more in terms of scoring goals.”