Toronto FC

Reds pick up hard-earned point vs. Earthquakes: “It was a well-fought draw”

A short-handed Toronto FC picked up a hard-earned point on Saturday night with a 0-0 draw away to the San Jose Earthquakes. 

After an early chance from the Earthquakes, TFC had the majority of play through the first half, but after a good start to the second frame the home side ratcheted up the pressure. Cade Cowell hit the post after a glancing header from a corner kick – he was ruled offside regardless – and Sean Johnston was called upon to deny a Jackson Yueill shot from the top of the box. 

Bob Bradley saw a lot of positives in the performance: “The mentality for the game, opportunities for different players to get on the field, overall way of defending.”

“We had moments where our ability to play through the midfield, control the game, those things in some moments were quite good,” he continued. “The reminder at the end to the group was there's all those positives, but we should also feel like the next time we're in that game, if we're a little bit sharper, there's three points for us.”

“We see the positives,” Bradley added. “But we certainly see the things that we feel we can continue to work on and be better with.”

On the heels of last weekend’s 2-0 win over Inter Miami CF, Toronto have now kept clean-sheets in their last two matches and are unbeaten in four games. 

“It was a well-fought draw,” said Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, who made his first appearance of the season in the starting XI. “Away from home, knowing that we had some young players in the team and some of our big players – Oso, Richie, MAK – are away with the national team.”

“We're proud of the performance, but we're not satisfied,” he continued. “We wish we came away with three points, but clean-sheet and we continue to keep going into next week.”

With Jonathan Osorio, Richie Laryea, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Ayo Akinola, and Tomás Romero on international duty it was a chance for some new faces to take centrestage.

Victor Vázquez made his first start since returning to the club, as did Marshall-Rutty and TFC II call-up Alonso Coello Camarero. Kobe Franklin, Kosi Thompson, and Hugo Mbongue all saw action off the bench.

“We came in knowing that we would have to step up, but Fede [Federico Bernardeschi], Mike [Michael Bradley], these big players give us confidence as young players. They're going to help us when we get out there. We're just trying to do our best, work hard, and work for the team,” explained Marshall-Rutty. “The main thing was from the coaching staff, coming in at the start of the week and knowing our objectives and just trying to fight through it.”

“Overall, I'm really proud of us young players,” he added. “Alonso, Kobe, very happy for them.”

Coello Camarero joined TFC II in the build-up to the 2022 season. Born in Madrid, Spain, he came through the youth systems of Atlético Madrid and Rayo Vallecano before coming to North America to play at Florida Atlantic University.

“Alonso is a solid player,” said Bradley post-match. “He played with us throughout preseason. He's smart. And when you have good football around him, he understands how to play with good players, how to keep it simple. He did a good job.”

“I'm happy for Jahkeele. In this last stretch his mentality everyday has been very good – his way of training every day, the way he comes in, he's doing more in the gym, his concentration from the beginning of training until the end has gone up,” Bradley continued. “All the things that we spoke about at the end of last year, even though he hadn't gotten an opportunity until tonight, we've told him over and over, that we've seen a lot of these things going in a good direction. It's great to see him get on the field and play well.” 

“Kobe has also made strides this year. He's got some really good qualities: he's clever with seeing certain passes, he's got a knack for stepping in and intercepting some balls. Some of his positional play, defensively, can be better and sometimes when he does go forward, his ability to recover in a faster way, but he's heard us say that a lot,” he highlighted. “And he understands that those are areas that will be important for him to keep moving along. Thrown on at half-time, in a difficult situation, he did quite well.”

“It's nice to see that we've got some guys that are moving in a good direction and that the team understands that on certain days there are no excuses if guys aren't there,” Bradley added. “We prepared for this game the same that we would any other game, we had good training throughout the week, and the idea was to come and step on the field and do the things we always do. And I think a lot of that happened.”

That attitude, of approaching the game in the same way, regardless of location, opponent, or who is available or not, will serve TFC well for the long season ahead. 

“There was no talk that just because we were missing some guys we had to have a whole different way of playing,” underlined Bradley. “And then it's how good are you at doing those things? How sharp are you?”

As will not being satisfied with just positives.

Said Marshall-Rutty: “We came into the changing room, the first thing we said was ‘clean-sheet’ and those kinds of things, but we're not satisfied.”

“We know that three points were there for the team. It's just training more, getting the feel for each other more, knowing where players will be will help us in the final third. It's a starting point,” he closed. “We take the draw and go on to next week. We take the point and we keep moving.”