TORONTO – On a night where Jermain Defoe took once more to the pitch at BMO Field in Toronto, it was he who stole the show, scoring two goals against his former club.
In good spirits following a win over Philadelphia on the weekend, Toronto FC were forced to settle for a 2-1 loss on Wednesday night in an international friendly against English side Sunderland AFC.
Defoe, who featured for the entire ninety minutes, had the announcement of his name pre-match greeted by a mixed chorus of boos and cheers. Jozy Altidore, who spent a dour 18 months with The Black Cats, meanwhile was left off Toronto's match day roster entirely.
The match began slowly, each team feeling the other out, before getting a little chippy around the half-hour mark.
Toronto rang in near-wholesale substitutions in the 32nd minute, replacing eight of their starters, giving a mix of bench and TFC II players a run out against the Premier League side.
The best chance of the opening frame would come in stoppage-time when Robbie Findley worked down the left, picking out Jonathan Osorio with a low ball, but he was not able to guide his redirect inside the far post, trailing it wide instead.
The game would finally be cracked open shortly after the restart. Osorio, making amends for his prior wastefulness, scored in the 46th minute, calmly placing a right-footer into the net when a weak clearance fell to him at the top of the box. Bright Dike initiated the play with good work down the right, pulling back to the heart of the area for Jay Chapman who could not get off a shot.
Defoe would steal the headlines in the 65th minute, levelling with a right-footed shot from the top of the area that took a healthy deflection off the outstretched leg of defender Adam Bouchard, to find the left-side of goal.
And four minutes later he made it two, capping off a quick Sunderland attack that sprung Steven Fletcher down the left channel, squaring for his strike partner to tap in with a simple finish.
Toronto would attempt to mount a comeback, but were unable to put a second past Costel Pantilimon in the Sunderland net.
Toronto return to league play on Saturday, travelling to Ohio to meet Trillium Cup rivals Columbus Crew SC for the second time this season (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE). Sunderland fly home, having wrapped up their North American tour, in anticipation of their season opener away to Leicester City FC on August 8.