TORONTO – When a spate of injuries strikes, teams must dig deep to replace the production of those missing.
Such was the case for Toronto FC on Wednesday night in the 1-1 draw against New York City FC.
Coach Greg Vanney has kept a remarkably consistent lineup over the first two-plus months of the season, but injuries to Jozy Altidore, Jonathan Osorio and Marky Delgado prompted TFC to look to their depth for answers.
Cue forward Mo Babouli, midfielder Jay Chapman and defender Josh Williams, who filled in for Damien Perquis against his former side.
“When the big guys are out, others have to step up and fill the void,” said Will Johnson, who scored the team's only goal, drawing them back level shortly before halftime. “That's going to be done by committee."
“We didn't quite have the firepower to get the second. That's the part that's disappointing.”
Babouli and Williams both played roles in Johnson's goal, the former playing the ball to the back post for the latter to square to the midfielder, inches from the doorstep for a simple tap-in. It was Babouli's first MLS assist, and the first TFC goal of the season that did not involve Sebastian Giovinco.
“I thought Mo had a good night,” said Vanney post-match. “The only thing he [lacked] was a goal. For [him] it's continuing to work and [find] ways to be goal-dangerous … Those opportunities will come.”
Said Williams: “I was just trying to put myself in a good spot, stay back post and hopefully Mo will put a ball there. He put a wonderful [service] there.”
Chapman showed glimpses of quality, but was still adjusting to the MLS level, seeing two good looks denied by Josh Saunders in the NYCFC goal.
“The second one, I probably had more time than I thought,” said the Homegrown midfielder. “He made two great saves; sometimes the ball just doesn't go in the net. If those opportunities come again, I'll put them away.”
Vanney offered measured praise for Chapman.
“It was one of his first few real runs. He did a solid job,” said the TFC boss. “At times he could maybe be a little more decisive, but he showed composure and helped us in terms of possession to play out and get us going forward.”
Johnson echoed his coach.
“They're good players, they wouldn't be on this team if they weren't,” said the veteran. “They've got good qualities, can help us in the attack, but you've got to go out when all you [media] guys are here, when 30,000 people are watching, and do it. And that's what we need.”