Toronto FC

Reds left wanting more after home draw vs. Nashville: “We feel we deserved three points”

Toronto FC were forced to settle for a single point on Saturday night in a 1-1 draw with Nashville SC at BMO Field.

Lorenzo Insigne put the Reds in front in the 38th minute with a trademark tiraggiro, cutting in from the left-side to curl a right-footed finish into the far top corner. Nashville’s Joe Willis got a piece of it, but couldn’t not prevent the net rippling.

Nashville brought on a pair of substitutes just before the hour-mark and responded in the 69th minute when one of them, Randall Leal, tested Sean Johnson with a hopeful shot from range that spun off the keeper's hands and into the net.

Both sides would go in search of the winner in the remaining 20-plus minutes, but in the end shared the points.

“Very good first half,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “We talked at half-time about trying to find ways to keep playing, keep pushing the game in small ways. Lost a little bit of that in the second half, still didn't give up much, but the bar tilts a little bit in terms of how many times we're up in their end and doing more.”

“We're in a rut,” he added. “We're in a rut where when you need a play, when you need luck, something that helps a group feel three points. I thought that was going to be the case tonight.”

Toronto remain unbeaten, stretching that run to four matches, but each of the last three draws have left points on the table.

“With the performance that we put, we definitely feel that we deserved three points,” said Jonathan Osorio, who returned from injury. “The first half was really good. The team was more together than ever and that's good, that's how it should be. As the season goes on your team starts to gel more and more and I felt that today. We were fighting together and we're playing well, flowing really well.”

“We wish we got one more in the first half, but this is football, these things happen. They get a goal,” he continued. “It's unlucky. It happens in football. And so we take the positives from this: the second-place team in the whole league and I thought, for most of the game, we were the better team.”

Slotting back into the starting XI alongside Mark-Anthony Kaye at the base of the midfield, Osorio was instrumental in the strong first half.

“He’s a smart player,” said Bradley. “In the first half, especially, playing through those two, starting to find ways to control the game, we were able to move Raoul [Petretta] and Kobe [Franklin] up into the attack on the flanks, which we had talked about. We were effective when we played through the middle, getting the ball to Lorenzo in good spots, and that led to some dangerous moments and a great goal.”

“Intelligence, a good understanding of the game, the right passes at the right time,” he listed. “All those things.”

On a night with a lot of stunning goals across the league, Insigne’s screamer was overshadowed by the Nashville equalizer.

“It's a shot from distance where the ball moves a little bit,” said Bradley. “Sean says to the whole group inside, ‘That's on me.’ Just one of those plays.”

Added Osorio: “We let Sean down in that stretch.”

“There was about five minutes prior to the actual goal,” he continued. “They had a few chances where we dropped off a little bit, dropped intensity and a little bit of concentration; they had a couple of chances and they fed off of that.”

For the second time in as many games Toronto were unable to turn a lead into a victory.

“It’s hard to say. It's not like we're not getting chances to put the ball in the back of the net,” diagnosed Osorio. “We're getting those chances, it's just about executing. And I think that will come.”

“There's nothing specific to work on or change or anything. It's just execution,” he continued. “We spoke about it at half-time, the mentality going into the second half, not letting up, not defending the lead and attacking it. We spoke about this. It's a mentality thing. We're working on it, we're getting better, but it does need to be improved. That when we get a lead, we have to have a better mentality as a collective to not only defend that lead, but moreso attack it to get that other goal.”

Toronto will have 11 days before they next take to the pitch, away to FC Cincinnati on June 21. With the Concacaf Nations League Finals next week and the Gold Cup kicking off at the end of the month, while the MLS schedule relaxes a touch, the action is only heating up.

“It probably helps for a little bit of a break,” said Bradley of the extended build-up into the next match. “We go into a weird stretch though: Nations League and it's followed quickly by the Gold Cup. When the league has a busy schedule through international periods, it's a challenge.”

Toronto will then travel to face the New England Revolution on June 24 before returning to BMO Field on July 1 against Real Salt Lake, kicking off another triplet of games in quick succession: away to Orlando City SC and back home against St. Louis City SC.

Three points shy of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference the club feels they are making progress.

“We are building towards something,” said Osorio. “It's very easy to get ahead of ourselves and want it to work right away, but really good things take time.”

“We need to be patient with ourselves,” he closed. “We need to work at it every day and know that at some point, if we keep working, all together, it will click.”