ORLANDO, Fla. — Substitute Jonathan Osorio's fortuitous 82nd-minute goal lifted Toronto FC into a 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
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. The ball bounced off goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who then somehow got a hand to Osorio's shot but only managed to sweep the ball off the post into the goal.
Toronto had been pressing for the equalizer, bringing on a slew of attacking substitutions including Osorio.
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 in the heat at Exploria Stadium 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.
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 defected 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.
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. Centre back Derek Cornelius, who had been dealing with a knee issue, made the bench.
Toronto coach Chris Armas made two changes to his starting 11 with Nick DeLeon and Nelson coming in for Ralph Priso and Shaffelburg.
Osorio and star striker Jozy Altidore, who had both been listed as questionable, started on the bench along with forward Ayo Akinola and winger Tsubasa Endoh, who had been working their way back from their own injury issues.
Armas introduced Justin Morrow, Altidore, Osorio, Shaffelburg and Akinola in the second half, looking for a spark.
Toronto was 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.
Up 1-0, Toronto came close to doubling the lead in the 27th minute from DeLeon but the midfielder's shot after a driving run went just wide.
Bono made a fine save on a Deiber Caceido free kick from in front in the 37th minute. A TFC call in first-half stoppage time for a penalty when Laryea went down in the box produced nothing.
Toronto, second in the Supporters' Shield race in 2020, finished 17 points and 15 places ahead of Vancouver in the overall standings last season.
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 in Sandy, Utah, on May 2.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2021
The Canadian Press