PHILADELPHIA — Toronto FC reverted to its early-season malaise Wednesday, putting on a dismal performance in a 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union in MLS play.
After going unbeaten in five games (2-0-3) under interim coach Javier Perez, Toronto (3-9-5) was repeatedly punished for the porous defence that cost Chris Armas his job July 4 after a 1-8-2 start. Philadelphia (7-4-7) had its way with the visitors, carving open the backline again and again.
TFC, which came into the game having given up a league-worst 33 goals, has now conceded three or more goals five times this season. Toronto hits the midway point of the season looking like a team still in need of considerable help.
Toronto generated almost no offence and its defence was vulnerable all night.
Jakob Glesnes, Daniel Gazdag and Sergio Santos scored for Philadelphia, which led 3-0 after 36 minutes and looked at times like it wanted the game more than TFC.
Philadelphia, which had won just once in its previous seven outings (1-2-4), snapped a three-game winless streak (0-1-2). It also extended its unbeaten streak to eight matches in all competitions at Subaru Park, where it has not lost since May 1.
The goal spree was welcome for Philadelphia which had scored just six goals in its last six games despite putting up a lot of shots. Andre Blake posted his seventh clean sheet of the season.
It was the first meeting between the two since Philadelphia thumped visiting Toronto 5-0 last October with Santos scoring a hat trick. TFC went on to lose three of its four remaining matches, including a 1-0 playoff defeat at the hands of Nashville SC.
The lone good news for TFC was the return of Nigerian forward Ifunanyachi Achara, who came on in the 60th minute. It was his first action since injuring his knee in training in June 2020. He subsequently underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.
Achara replaced Richie Laryea, who left the field holding the back of his leg.
Philadelphia outshot Toronto 14-2 (7-0 in shots on target) and sent in 16 crosses in the first half alone. With a comfortable lead, Philadelphia coach Jim Curtis brought on some of his youngsters in the second half.
The Union put Toronto under pressure early and went ahead in the 12th minute on Glesnes' header off a Gazdag corner. The ball went off the back of the head of the Norwegian defender as he rose above defender Chris Mavinga for his third of the season — and Philadelphia's sixth off a corner.
It was the league-worst ninth goal conceded by TFC in the first 15 minutes of a game.
Gazdag made it 2-0 with a 33rd-minute penalty after Alex Bono took down Santos after the Toronto defence was opened up yet again. It was the first MLS goal for the Hungarian international.
The third goal was all too easy in the 36th minute as Jose Martinez's long through ball found an unmarked Santos, who beat Bono for his fourth of the season.
Toronto failed to convert early in the second half when Blake stopped a Yeferson Soteldo penalty in the 53rd minute. Justice was probably done since Laryea appeared to go initiate the contact, going down after swinging his leg into Jack Elliott, rather than the Philadelphia defender taking him down.
Both teams were coming off 1-1 home draws Sunday, Toronto against Nashville SC and Philadelphia against the Chicago Fire.
Toronto's injury list included Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, forward Dom Dwyer, winger Tsubasa Endoh and Brazilian fullback Auro.
With no Pozuelo to worry about, Philadelphia was able to corral Soteldo on the night. The dangerous Venezuelan has scored or assisted on six of Toronto’s last eight goals (two goals, four assists).
Bono was called on early, having to stop a powerful long-range shot from Elliott in the second minute. Bono made a fine save in the ninth, diving low to parry a header by Kacper Przybylko. The Polish forward had another good chance two minutes later, but his redirection of a cross went high.
Bono stopped Gazdag in the 23rd after the Toronto defence was opened up again. Six minutes later, Bono got a leg to a Leon Flach shot in the 29th minute.
Nick DeLeon came on for Mavinga to open the second half as Toronto switched from a three-man backline to a back four. Patrick Mullins and Jordan Perruzza came on in the 71st minute as Perez looked to find some offence.
Perez made two chances to his starting lineup with Jonathan Osorio and Kemar Lawrence slotting in for Ralph Priso and Justin Morrow.
Santos returned for Philadelphia after serving a one-game suspension "for violating the league’s policy regarding throwing/kicking an object toward fans" in the July 22 game against Orlando.
Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro, one of Philadelphia's designated players, did not dress. Curtin said the Dutch-born Cape Verde international was not with the team as transfer talks continue.
Union fullback Kai Wagner was named an MLS all-star earlier in the day.
Toronto hosts fourth-place New York City FC on Saturday. Perez served as an assistant coach with NYCFC before joining TFC in February.
Philadelphia has now won three of its last four games (3-1-0) against Toronto after going winless in the previous 11 matches (0-9-2) including the playoffs.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug, 4, 2021
The Canadian Press