Charlotte, NC - Toronto FC II was held to a 2-2 draw with goals from Shaan Hundal and Malik Johnson scoring for TFC II, and a brace from Jorge Herrera in reply for Charlotte.
The Young Reds had been testing Hundal's pace against the Charlotte back line early in the game and he was rewarded with a goal in the 19th minute.
Bilal Duckett seemed to have a long pass under control, looking to shepherd the ball out of play by the touchline. Hundal, however, showed great persistence to hound him out of possession and the composure to match, as he brought the ball to the penalty mark and finished past the diving goalkeeper and two defenders who had taken up positions on the line.
Malik Johnson doubled the lead in the 30th minute, converting a penalty kick.
The penalty had been won by Sal Bernal following some good interplay on the left side with Anthony Osorio setting him up one on one with Jack Metcalf. Osorio beat the left back and was taken down by the covering midfielder, Jorge Herrera. Johnson stepped up to handle the spot kick and dispatched it to the left side of the goal. The keeper had guessed the right way, but the kick was too powerful for John Berner to reach.
Both Charlotte goals followed a similar pattern, with only a minor change of personnel.
The first came in the 46th minute as Dennis Castillo got to a ball that was deep in the penalty area. His first time cross was met at the near post by Jorge Herrera who glanced it past Bono in the Toronto net.
Herrera got his second of the game just ten minutes later.
David Estrada had the ball 30 yards out and played a ball down the left channel for Chris Hellman to chase. He got to it right on the touchline and was able to pull it back, finding the unmarked Jorge Herrera at the penalty spot who made no mistake with his finish.
Charlotte looked to play neat, slick football in the centre of the pitch, making one and two touch plays and finding runs being made by players from deeper positions. TFC II were initially on the back foot but found their way into the game as the first half went on, testing the Charlotte back line with deep balls and maintaining their defensive shape well.
Charlotte made changes at half time and came out with a renewed energy and purpose, scoring two early goals.
Richie Ennin was brought for his first appearance of the year and injected some directness down the right side, setting up Aidan Daniels with a good look at goal. The shot was destined for the bottom left corner before the Charlotte keeper intervened with a good diving save.
That was the last meaningful action before the referee called the teams off the pitch in the 73rd minute for a lightning delay. The heavy rain accompanying the lightning storm rendered the already patchy surface completely unplayable. The match officials called the game complete as a 2-2 draw.
Toronto FC II will look to go one better when they return to the Ontario Soccer Centre on Saturday June 11th to take on traditional rivals, the Rochester Rhinos. Kick off is at 7:30 and tickets can be bought here. The game will also be streamed on tfc2.ca
TFC II – Hundal (19), Johnson (36) CLT – Herrera (46, 56)
CLT – Dennis Castillo (32), Brian Brown (61) TFC II – Brian James (67)
Toronto FC II; 2-7-3, 9pts
Charlotte Independence; 5-3-3, 18pts
Toronto FC II – Alex Bono; Wesley Charpie, Mitchell Taintor, Robert Boskovic (Clement Simonin, 59), Anthony Osorio; Liam Fraser (Chris Manella, 59), Aidan Daniels, Brian James, Sal Bernal; Shaan Hundal, Malik Johnson (Ennin, 71)
Charlotte Independence – John Berner; Dennis Castillo, Bilal Duckett, Jun Marques Davidson, Jack Metcalf; Paul Clowes, Lewis Hilton (Chris Hellman, 45), Jorge Herrera; David Estrada, Caleb Calvert (Brian Brown, 45), Zach Pfeffer (Yann Ekra, 45)