NASHVILLE — Jonathan Osorio scored twice and Italians Federico Bernardeschi and Lorenzo Insigne added goals as Toronto FC hung on to defeat Nashville SC 4-3 Saturday for its first road win of the MLS season.
Toronto fullback Richie Laryea had an assist and won a penalty on his return to his hometown club.
Bernardeschi converted the 54th-minute penalty to put Toronto ahead 3-2 before Insigne opened his MLS account with a 77th-minute rocket, ghosting past a defender and then hammering a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty box past goalkeeper Joe Willis.
Hany Mukhtar, Teal Bunbury and Walker Zimmerman scored for Nashville in a wide-open, end-to-end game that saw the teams combine for three rapid-fire goals late in the first half, two penalties and 31 shots.
Zimmerman's 84th-minute goal, a header off a corner, made for a tense finale after surviving video review. Nashville never led but never gave up with TFC having to survive six nervy minutes of added time.
Mukhtar had a chance in the 96th minute but his header was off-target.
Both teams had endured lean spells of late with each recording just one win in their seven previous league outings — Toronto at 1-4-2 and Nashville at 1-2-4. Still Nashville came into weekend play above the playoff line in the Western Conference and 10 points ahead of Toronto.
Toronto (7-12-5) came into the game 0-7-4 away from home this season — the only team in the league yet to win on the road — and was winless in 19 straight away matches (0-13-6) dating back to July 24, 2021, when it won 2-1 at Chicago. Eight of the Toronto starters that day at Soldier Field have since left the club.
Laryea who returned to his hometown club Friday on loan from England's Nottingham Forest, started at right fullback for Toronto.
The 27-year-old was sold to Forest in January after three seasons with TFC but had trouble cracking the lineup of a winning Forest side and saw action in just five games. Laryea made 83 appearances across all competitions in his first go-round with Toronto, recording nine goals and 12 assists in three seasons.
He exited in the 64th minute Saturday after an impressive return performance.
It was 30 degrees Celsius, feeling like 34 degrees at kickoff at Geodis Park.
Osorio put Toronto ahead in the 19th minute with a marvellous effort. Facing three defenders, he shimmied right and left to make space for a shot and then, from the edge of the penalty box, fired a left-footed rocket into the corner of the goal with Willis rooted to the spot.
The goal ended Toronto's 380-minute scoring drought in league play on the road, dating back to a 2-2 tie at D.C. United on May 21 that saw Osorio score in the 89th minute.
A midfield giveaway by Bernardeschi led to a Nashville penalty late in the half. Mukhtar fed C.J. Sapong who went down after his trailing foot hit Alex Bono as he tried to accelerate past the goalkeeper. Laryea was booked as Toronto players delayed the spot kick, which Mukhtar fired high into the goal in the 41st minute for his 13th of the season.
Laryea played provider in the 44th minute, sending a low cross to Osorio to tap in at the far post for his eighth of the season, tying him for the club lead with Jesus Jimenez. Bernardeschi did his part, finding Laryea in the penalty box after a fine buildup that saw Toronto move the ball from side to side.
Osorio has now scored six goals in his last 10 games, after scoring six goals in his previous 42 regular-season appearances.
Nashville (8-8-9) tied it up in first-half stoppage time when Dave Romney got away from his marker, Toronto captain Michael Bradley, on a Mukhtar corner and flicked a backward header that went off Bunbury's head past Bono. The goal stood despite complaints of offside.
Bunbury, a Canadian-born U.S. international whose father is former Canadian international Alex Bunbury, has now scored in four straight games to up his career MLS total to 68.
Allen Chapman awarded a penalty in the 53rd minute when Laryea went down after contact with Daniel Lovitz. The Nashville fullback, a former TFC draft choice, waved his finger in disagreement with the call but it stood.
Insigne's talents on the ball prompted two hard tackles in the first two minutes with Nashville captain Dax McCarty earning a yellow card for bringing the Italian star down.
McCarty came close to scoring for Nashville in the fourth minute but his redirection of a Mukhtar free kick flashed just wide of the post.
Chapman was unmoved in the eighth minute when Laryea went down in the Nashville penalty box. On replay, it appeared Laryea had clipped his foot on a trailing Daniel Lovitz.
A diving Bono got a hand to a Bunbury shot in the 14th minute to deny Nashville.
Nashville played mid-week in Portland and was winless in four (0-1-3), a run that included three straight 1-1 draws in games that it had led. The third-year club has had only one longer winless run in its MLS history, going six straight (0-1-5) without a victory in September-October 2021.
Midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye, another recent TFC acquisition, remained sidelined by injury.
Winger Jacob Shaffelburg, who joined Nashville on loan from Toronto this week, did not make the Nashville match squad.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2022
The Canadian Press