Toronto FC picked up a valuable road point on Saturday night in a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Nicolas Benezet’s first goal in MLS gave the Reds the lead in the 74th minute, only for a late strike from Gustavo Bou to squeeze under Quentin Westberg for the equalizer come the 86th minute.
TFC forced to settle for a single point when three were in hand.
“The result is disappointing in the end,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “We left a lot of chances on the table. Two or three others, besides the one we scored, were [in] very good position to finish and we didn’t, which made the game a little more complicated as it went on.”
“After we score, we ended up sitting a little bit deeper than we wanted to – we still wanted to stay a little bit more on the front foot,” explained Vanney, once more his hand forced into a change with Auro needing to come off in the late stages. “But in the end, we still should have defended it out. That’s a game we should get three points. We should have been able to deal with what they were throwing at us, we should have been able to deal with that shot, and we should have taken three points.”
A back-and-forth, but tight first half saw neither side find the breakthrough. Toronto looked to have tipped the game in their favour when Erickson Gallardo broke in alone on goal only to be taken down by New England keeper, Matt Turner. An agonizingly late offside flag sparred the Revolution a clear red card.
That same pattern continued come the second frame – both sides with half-chances, but unable to hit the back of the net.
Richie Laryea, days after being called up to the Canadian National Team was particularly lively on the night.
Toronto would finally find their goal when Nick DeLeon sent in a ball from the right that was met by Marky Delgado at the back-post. His touch towards goal caught the shoulder of the Revolution goalkeeper and sat up nicely for Benezet to nod in, giving Toronto the lead.
“When I score, I feel good,” said Benezet. “I [would have loved] to win tonight, but one point when you play outside Toronto is good.”
Hopes of all three points were dashed when the red-hot Bou found space for a low shot from the top of the Toronto box in the final five minutes and his right-footer beat Westberg to level.
Vanney wanted that clean-sheet badly.
“I wish we would have gotten the shutout because that is something we’re still scratching and clawing for,” said the coach. “We’re finding ways to give up that goal that comes back to haunt us. But I was very pleased with the way we played today.”
After all, away to New England has been a difficult match for TFC in the past – the draw ended a run of three-straight home wins for the Revolution and was Toronto’s first point at Gillette since 2016.
“We had a great road mentality,” said Vanney. “We haven’t played well in New England in a long time, so I thought it was one of our best performances here.”
“The mentality was fabulous, so, I’m pleased,” added Vanney. “We’ve got to let the fact that a couple of points slipped away in the end not impact our mentality and keep moving forward with what we have been really doing well the last couple of games. We are very much on the right track.”
Unbeaten in four games during this crucial stretch of the season, Toronto will be looking to carry the same mindset into upcoming road games against FC Cincinnati and NYCFC in the coming weeks.
“We went after the game in a good way,” said Michael Bradley. “We understood the type of game it was going to be. They're on a good run this last stretch, so to come here and play the way did and come away with a point is still positive, obviously.”
“Given the fact that we went up 1-0 and were ahead late in the game, we feel like we should probably be walking away with three, but that’s life sometimes,” added Bradley. “Now, we’ll regroup and get ready for another big one in Cincinnati.”
This time of year, every point is vital. With the single, and the Montreal Impact losing at home to D.C. United, Toronto moves back ahead of the Impact for the seventh and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, where just five points separate fourth and a home game in the post-season from eighth and an early end to the campaign.
Robin Fraser’s Colorado Rapids did TFC a favour earlier in the day by beating the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.
“We came here to get three points, but we wanted to make sure we came away with something,” concluded Vanney. “This is one of the teams that we are trying to track down. A couple of teams around us have one more game than us.”
Toronto enters the final full month of the season in good spirits.
“We feel good about what we’ve been able to do the last few weeks,” said Bradley. “Games this time of year are scrappy and they can hang in the balance for a long time. Obviously, we were able to grab a point late in Columbus. Tonight, we gave away a lead late, but the mentality has been good.”
“We're continuing to improve. We’re more solid,” added Bradley. “Those are all important things as we head into the last part of the season.”