With the home opener in the books, let’s head back to the video room to dissect the impressive play of Raheem Edwards in his first MLS start.
Heading into Friday’s matchup with Sporting Kansas City, the battle on the wings had been identified as one of the keys to the match, particularly down the left flank for Toronto FC. The assumption was that Justin Morrow would occupy his usual position as the left wing back in a 3-5-2, pitting him against U.S. men’s national team member Graham Zusi. However, Morrow was a late scratch as a heel injury forced him out of the lineup.
Enter Raheem Edwards.
The Toronto native hardly looked out of his depth despite the difficult matchup and created several solid looks for the Reds going forward.
As Sebastian Giovinco continued to drop deeper into the midfield to collect the ball, space opened up down the left flank for Edwards to exploit. He did so brilliantly in the 10th minute as the Italian drew the attention of both Zusi and Ilie Sánchez.
Sensing the opportunity to push forward, Edwards occupied the vacated space along the wing to jumpstart one of the Toronto’s best scoring chances of the night through a flowing move from left to right.
The chance so nearly came off, but Edwards’ ability to trouble the SKC defense was on full display. Just 10 minutes later, the 21-year-old was at it again, baiting Zusi into a challenge before blowing by him to carve out yet another quality goal scoring opportunity.
Checking to the ball, Edwards expertly shielded the on-rushing Zusi before dispatching him with a clever, first-time back heel touch into space. Once again, Edwards picked out the right pass as the ball ultimately fell to Jonathon Osorio in a dangerous position at the top of the box.
What They Said
Greg Vanney: “I thought Raheem did very well tonight, you wouldn’t know it was his first MLS start tonight in my opinion. He looked composed, comfortable, and did a great job defensively.
“He created several crossing opportunities and still did his defensive work. I was very pleased with his performance.”