Toronto FC Ties Orlando, Regains Top Spot in East
Toronto 1 point up on both New York Red Bulls and New York City FC
It’s a measure of how far Toronto FC has come that the team regained first place in the MLS Eastern Conference, tied a franchise record for points and still felt disappointed.
Wednesday’s 0-0 tie with Orlando City, which came with a controversial red card for the home side, marked the third straight draw at BMO Field for Toronto (13-8-10). While one of those was a gritty 3-3 comeback against the New York Red Bulls, there have been valuable home points lost in the final stretch.
Wednesday’s match represented Toronto’s game in hand compared to the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC, both 13-9-9. All three teams entered the day at 48 points, with only Toronto in action.
The tie did allow Toronto to match its single-season record for points (49), set last year when the team went 15-15-4.
But Toronto players expected more.
“We demand more from ourselves, from our teammates,” said veteran defender Drew Moor. “It’s never a bad thing to not lose, but some games you have to win. I think if we win just one of these last three (at home) then we’re in a little better mood and a little better position. But it’s a quick week, it’s a short turnaround. [Thursday] morning we’ll wake up and look forward to the D.C. [United] game on Saturday.”
Toronto will hope to have Sebastian Giovinco back then. The star striker, who has been out since Aug. 27 with quadriceps and adductor strains, did not dress Wednesday.
Toronto vying for top spot
Toronto clinched a playoff spot last weekend. It needed a win Wednesday or a Montreal loss or tie with San Jose to ensure finishing in the top four and getting a home playoff game. Montreal did not oblige, defeating San Jose 3-1.
A Toronto win would have helped keep in contact with West-leading FC Dallas (15-8-8, 53 points) in the Supporters Shield race.
“Three points would have gone a long way in doing that tonight,” said captain Michael Bradley. “So there’s big disappointment that we weren’t able to find a goal and take the full three points.
“On the other hand, especially the first half, we played very very very well. [It’s] almost impossible that we didn’t score. And ultimately a point still puts us back in first place in the East and sets us up in a good way with three games to go, knowing that we’ve still got two games at home and a big game with Montreal on the road.”
Bradley also pointed out that Toronto has lost just once in 12 games (7-1-4). But it has not won at home since Aug. 6 (going 0-1-3).
Toronto played the last 20 minutes a man down after Tosaint Ricketts got a second yellow card. Referee Alan Kelly ruled that Ricketts’ boot made contact with Uruguayan defender Jose Aja during an attempted bicycle kick. Replays seemed to suggest otherwise but Aja seemed to make the most of it and Ricketts was penalized for dangerous play.
“I felt like I didn’t touch him but if the referee thought that wasn’t the case, there’s nothing I can do,” Ricketts said after the game.