TORONTO — A 2-2 tie that felt like a loss proved to be another painful lesson for Toronto FC as it rebuilds under coach Bob Bradley.
Jack Skahan, who entered the game in the 83rd minute, scored his first MLS goal two minutes into stoppage time to earn the San Jose Earthquakes a road point and spoil a spirited Toronto comeback Saturday.
"Painful," said Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg who made a fine save to deny Jeremy Ebobisse seconds earlier. "Yes painful but also (a) great reaction in the second half."
Goals by Deandre Kerr and Jonathan Osorio had seemed to earn Toronto (5-10-4) three badly needed points.
But an attempted clearance by Ifunanyachi Achara ricocheted off a sliding San Jose captain Jackson Yuell and sent the ball back into the Toronto penalty box, allowing Skahan to hammer a low shot past Westberg in the 92nd minute.
"I definitely have that save in me," said Westberg, who was being hard on himself.
Toronto, coming off back-to-back home loses to Seattle and Columbus, has managed just two wins in its last 12 league outings (2-8-2).
And with four of its next five games are on the road, TFC was looking to pick up points against a San Jose team that has yet to win on the road (0-6-3) this season.
Bradley liked his team's response in the second half, if not the ending.
"We do step up in a more aggressive way, we do play at a higher tempo," he said. "And now you've got to finish the game. It's just a game you have to win … We let the points slide."
More work is needed on closing out a game.
"At the end, when everything requires that extra little bit of concentration, that extra little bit of knowing what every moment's about, you've got to have everybody understanding," said Bradley. "Even if you have a large percentage of the guys on the field at that moment who understand it, if a couple don't then you can still pay the price."
Toronto outshot San Jose 16-9 (6-3 in shots on target) and had 56 per cent possession.
The 'Quakes (4-7-7) now are unbeaten in their last four meetings (1-0-3) with Toronto.
Ebobisse scored his 10th of the season to put the 'Quakes ahead in the 26th minute.
But after a unproductive opening 45 minutes, Toronto came out with more purpose in the second half and finally beat 'Quakes goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski in the 71st minute on a rapid-fire counterattack.
Osorio sent the ball ahead to Kerr and, with the defence backing away, the 19-year-old homegrown product curled a low shot from just outside the penalty box past Marcinkowski into the corner for his third of the season.
Four minutes later Kerr played provider, sending a ball into the box that hit a defender and found Osorio on a late run. The Canadian midfielder made no mistake from point-blank range to notch his fifth of the campaign.
Saturday's contest was a matchup of the league's two worst defences, with Toronto 27th (conceding 1.89 goals a game on average) and San Jose 28th (2.06 goals per game).
The game followed a week of wheeling and dealing that saw Toronto ship Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo to Inter Miami for a modest return and acquire Canadian midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye from the Colorado Rapids for a hefty price. The future of star centre back Carlos Salcedo, like Pozuelo a designated player, remains up in the air with the expectation he is headed back to Mexico for family reasons.
Salcedo was not in the matchday squad, but posted the latest in a string of cryptic tweets. The post showed a play button next to "Mx …" suggesting the move to Mexico's Liga MX is a done deal.
"I don't think anything's final but it's such that he will likely end up with a club in Mexico," said Bradley. "For (his) personal, family situation, it was important for him to be back (there)."
Kaye, meanwhile, has yet to arrive in the city,
With the MLS secondary transfer window opening Thursday, fans had hoped to see Italian star Lorenzo Insigne on the field. But the former Napoli captain, whose move to Toronto following the end of the Italian season was announced six months ago, has had his TFC debut pushed back to later this month because of a calf injury sustained in Europe.
The 31-year-old Insigne watched from the stands, signing autographs before the game. Former Toronto midfielder Ralph Priso, who is headed to Colorado in the Kaye trade, was also in attendance.
Fellow Italian Domenico Criscito, a former Genoa captain, made his first start. The 35-year-old left back took corners, looked composed on the ball and showed a deft passing touch. Suffering from cramps, he came off in the 80th minute to applause from the announced crowd of 27,149.
Toronto had more of the ball early but failed to do anything with it.
San Jose scored on its first shot on target, taking advantage of a Toronto giveaway in its own end. Benji Kikanovic threaded a ball between Michael Bradley and Shane O'Neill and Ebobisse slid a right-footed shot past Westberg into the corner of goal.
The giveaway came after Toronto defender Chris Mavinga, from the corner, sent a dangerous ball back into the middle of the field in the direction of Jayden Nelson.
TFC has not posted a shutout in league play since Sept. 25, 2021, in a 0-0 draw at Colorado with the run of MLS games without a clean sheet now at 27 games.
San Jose parted ways with coach Matias Almeyda after going winless in its first seven games (0-4-3). Alex Covelo, who was head coach of the Earthquakes II in MLS Next Pro, is now 4-3-4 as interim manager.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press