Toronto FC

Toronto FC concede late, drop points in Austin: “It's a very tough goal to give up”

Toronto FC lost 1-0 to Austin FC at Q2 Stadium in Texas on Saturday night.

With a short-handed Toronto minutes away from scraping together a second consecutive scoreless draw, a cross flung in from deep on the left proved more troublesome than it initially seemed. 

Raoul Petretta popped the Adam Lundkvist delivery high in the air, Sean Johnson looked to come out and collect, but was pinned back by an Austin player lying at his feet. Instead Nick Lima’s backheader caromed off the crossbar and fell to Gyasi Zardes who nodded it over the line from close range in the 91st minute.

“A very tough loss,” said Bob Bradley post-match. “A night where, football-wise, especially in the first half, we struggled to connect passes. We made a few changes at half-time, organized ourselves better, certainly felt that there's a point to be taken at the end and it's a very tough goal to give up.”

Battling a long list of injury absences, TFC welcomed Petretta, Matt Hedges, and Mark-Anthony Kaye back into the lineup, but Lorenzo Insigne picked up a knock in the midweek match that saw him stay in Toronto.

Austin twice hit the woodwork in the first half – Maxi Urruti’s low drive that beat Johnson but not the post in the 15th minute and a cross/shot from Jon Gallagher that skimmed the face of the bar six minutes later – but the sides were even into the half-time break. 

Toronto made a pair of changes for the second half and found a little more rhythm and forward punch immediately – Kobe Franklin and Hugo Mbongue combined up the left to pick out CJ Sapong at the near-post, but he could not get his feet set to redirect the sharp cut-back on goal.

Lundkvist offered a warning in the 88th minute when a long throw fell to him at the top of the box and his volley screamed past the post, but just as the road point seemed to be within Toronto’s grasp it evaporated.

“Richie [Laryea] tried to go and see if he could win the ball,” recounted Bradley. “[Lundkvist] spun away from him and was able to get the cross in. I thought we were positioned well. Raoul’s header goes straight up in the air and Sean is dealing with a guy at his feet, it’s not easy for him to get to the ball. The header goes off the crossbar and then back to Zardes.”

The frustration of conceding late, which extended the winless streak to five matches in all competitions, was evident. But Federico Bernardeschi was proud of his teammates.

“I'm so proud of the team because the team put everything in the field,” he said. “This is the most important thing for me.”

Toronto has now been held scoreless in their last four MLS outings.

“We can’t score without [shooting],” levelled the Italian. “If we don't shoot, we can’t score.”

TFC did not register a shot on goal in Austin. Two were off target and one was blocked.

“To play like this is difficult for everybody, but the guys, especially the young guys, put everything in the field,” Bernardeschi continued. “Unfortunately, we lose the game again and this for me is no good. Sincerely, because this team, the city, the fans, everybody [doesn't] deserve this.”

After a busy stretch of five games in 15 days, Toronto now has a week until their next match: at BMO Field against D.C. United on Saturday.

“They get some days off,” said Bradley. “And then we've got to regroup – physically, mentally – be ready for a home game against D.C.”