Pozuelo Altidore SEA
USA Today

Toronto FC take lessons, positives from back-and-forth battle in Seattle

Toronto FC dropped their first match of the season on Saturday afternoon in a 3-2 loss away to Seattle Sounders FC.

Jozy Altidore opened the scoring in the 11th minute, getting his head on the end of a lovely Alejandro Pozuelo cross, but the Sounders responded with three goals of their own – Will Bruin in both the 24th and 66th minutes and Cristian Roldan in the 68th minute – before Altidore neatly touched in another ball from Pozuelo to set up a dramatic, if ultimately unsuccessful, finish.

“It’s one loss,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “We’ll learn from it. It’s not the end of the world. It’s a challenging place to play. You just have to take it for what it is and move on.”

Taking the lead on the road, only to concede, first from a deflected cross that fell kindly to Bruin and then off a pair of defensive breakdowns, was admittedly “frustrating,” according to Vanney.

“We’re up 1-0 and have decent control of things. They’re a good attacking team so sometimes we’re going to have to withstand some things, defensively be solid,” explained Vanney. “We were able to find some moments in possession as well, but that faded as the game progressed and ended up with us defending a little more.”

“It’s frustrating because you get out on top and it’s a game that you want to not give up goals the way we did. You want to try to find the balance of the ball a little bit more and we didn’t in the parts of the field that we wanted. It’s a 'learn-from-it' moment, take it away and try to be a little more consistent on both sides.”

Seattle came out aggressively, looking to make the most of their home advantage, but it was the visitors that struck first when Pozuelo drifted out to the left, got the ball out of his feet, and placed an inviting ball towards the back-post where Altidore lurked, nodding a finish past Stefan Frei.

A deflected Brad Smith cross fell kindly for Bruin, who made no mistake having gotten between the Toronto back-line to head in the equalizer. And it was Bruin again who found the go-ahead goal come the 66th minute getting on the end of some tidy work up the left-flank from Smith, Nicolas Lodeiro, and Victor Rodriguez.

Two minutes later, a turnover in midfield exposed the Toronto defence, leading to Roldan and Lodeiro both surging in on goal unmarked with Kevin Leerdam playing the final ball into the unattended space.

Toronto would press for the late equalizer with Pozuelo drawing a diving save out of Frei and Laurent Ciman stinging a shot off the outside of the post, both looks deep in stoppage-time.

“For large stretches of the game we had things under control; scored a very good first goal,” said Michael Bradley. “Their first goal is a little bit unfortunate: a deflection and it gets to the back post.”

“We let things get away from us with a bad three minutes in the second half. The response was pretty good to get back to 3-2 and we had chances to get the equalizer,” continued Bradley. “It’s still early. We still feel like we’re going in the right direction. We have some details to look at and brush up on, but now we have to get ready for two difficult games in a row.”

Road matches are always a tricky affair, and as Vanney mentioned, finding that balance between attacking moments and defensive solidity is key.

“First half we started off great,” said Jonathan Osorio. “Then they started to play themselves into the game. We were handling the situations for the most part, except for that one bounce. The second half we have to do a better job at starting off well. We put ourselves in a hole, there was a span of about ten minutes where we lost concentration, in the end that’s where we lost the game.”

With the first defeat now in the past, Toronto will look to take the lessons of the night and move forward. They return home to face Minnesota United FC on Friday at BMO Field and then welcome the Portland Timbers to town on April 27 before that hectic May period begins away to Orlando City SC on May 4.

“There were points where we just lost our concentration a bit and they have some good players. That’s what happened to us tonight,” said Altidore. “I’m still encouraged by our performance. We had some good stuff out there for good portions. It just lines us up for a big game next Friday. We will be up for it.”