Freak goal helps Toronto FC emerge with 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps

·5 min read

ORLANDO, Fla. — A roller-coaster game saw Toronto FC go up early and the Vancouver Whitecaps rally to pull ahead in the second half, only to concede a fortuitous tying goal by Toronto's Jonathan Osorio in the 83rd minute.

The 2-2 tie probably didn't please anyone, although both coaches saw some positives on a hot, humid day at Exploria Stadium.

For Vancouver's Marc Dos Santos, it's four points in two games — more progress after what he called the "most unsettled" pre-season of his career, due to the pandemic and players away on international duty or just late arriving.

"I think we probably could have gotten three points but look, there's a lot of positives for us to build on," said Dos Santos.

Toronto's Chris Armas, yet to see his team win in league play, didn't like the goals conceded off a penalty and set piece.

"That makes it hard to sit with us. The good news is the guys made a real push at the end," said Armas. "They made a real push to get back into the game and maybe we leave on somewhat of a positive there."

The other good news for Toronto is that Osorio, Jozy Altidore and Ayo Akinola all returned from injury, coming on in the second half.

Second-half goals by Cristian Dajome and Andy Rose had looked to give the Whitecaps a 2-1 comeback win.

But Osorio rescued the day with a bizarre goal that saw Rose's attempted clearance of Michael Bradley's ball into the box come back off the face of teammate Michael Baldisimo to Osorio in front of the goal. Osorio's shot bounced off the body of goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who then somehow got a hand to the ball but only managed to sweep it off the post into the goal.

Osorio, who entered the game in the 61st minute, used variations of the word lucky three times in describing the tying goal. The 28-year-old has now scored in all nine seasons he has played with Toronto FC (2013-2021).

"It ended up coming to me luckily and I just tried to get it on net quick as possible," he said. "I actually didn't hit it the best but luckily it had enough to, I guess, put the keeper off balance and lucky enough the ball had the spin to get way from him and go into the net."

"A lot of bad luck," lamented Dos Santos.

Both 'keepers made fine saves in the dying moments, with Crepeau stopping Jacob Shaffelburg and Alex Bono denying Ryan Raposo in stoppage time.

There was some pushing and shoving after the final whistle with a bloodied Russell Teibert complaining to the referee after an aerial challenge with Toronto's Mark Delgado.

Toronto (0-1-1) opened the season last week with a poor performance in a 4-2 loss to CF Montreal. Vancouver (1-0-1) defeated Portland 1-0 in its season opener.

Toronto, second in the Supporters' Shield race in 2020, finished 17 points and 15 places ahead of Vancouver in the overall standings last season.

"I think we're going to see a different Vancouver this season. And credit to them," said Osorio. "But nonetheless I still think that our team feels that we should have come out from this game with a lot more. I don't think we're satisfied with only getting a point."

Saturday's game, ostensibly Toronto's home opener, followed news that TFC and Brazil's Santos FC had agreed to a deal for Venezuelan international winger Yeferson Soteldo.

Toronto went ahead in the seventh minute on 20-year-old Luke Singh's first goal in his second MLS start.

From a Toronto free kick prompted by a Cristian Gutierrez foul on Delgado, Bradley passed to an unmarked Jayden Nelson down the right flank. The 18-year-old's deflected cross was headed by Patrick Mullins to the far post where Omar Gonzalez headed it back at goal.

A lunging Crepeau got a hand to the ball but it fell to Singh who, in a sea of defenders, knocked it in.

"We were very upset at halftime at the goal we (conceded) ," said Dos Santos.

"When you're on the road and when you're playing a team like Toronto FC, you can't give goals away like that," he added.

The Whitecaps replied in the 55th minute on Dahome's penalty. Lucas Cavallini earned the spot kick, driving into the penalty box and dancing around defenders until he was taken down by Richie Laryea. It all started with a quick Vancouver free kick after Bradley took down Dahome outside the box.

Dahome, a 27-year-old Colombian, was a threat all afternoon.

Rose, who is married to Bradley's sister, made it 2-1 in the 70th minute, beating Gonzalez to head home a fine Gutierrez free kick after Gonzalez bodied Teibert to the ground.

The two teams combined for nine Canadians starters — five for Vancouver and four for Toronto.

Vancouver went with the same starting 11 that beat Portland.

Armas made two changes to his starting 11 with Nick DeLeon and Nelson coming in for Ralph Priso and Shaffelburg.

Toronto was still without two key players in Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo (thigh) and French centre back Chris Mavinga (calf).

Vancouver was missing defender Erik Godoy (calf), midfielder Leonard Owusu (hamstring) and striker Tosaint Ricketts (hamstring). Iraqi fullback Ali Adnan, a designated player, remains in Vancouver due to visa issues.

Portuguese-born Angola international fullback Bruno Gaspar and Brazilian midfielder Caio Alexandre — who finished quarantine April 16 and 18, respectively — started on the Vancouver bench.

Alexandre made his debut in the 75th minute. Gaspar and defender Derek Cornelius, returning from injury, came on in the 87th minute.

It was 31 degrees Celsius at the 3 p.m. ET kickoff in Orlando, where TFC has made its pandemic home. That was 14 degrees warmer than Sandy, Utah, where Vancouver is based due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

NOTES: Fullback Jake Nerwinski made his 100th start for the Whitecaps in all competitions … Toronto plays Mexico's Cruz Azul on Tuesday in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal. The Whitecaps entertain the Colorado Rapids on May 2.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2021

The Canadian Press