Unfamiliar with each other, TFC grind out result together
It almost looked for the first 20 minutes or so on Saturday as if Toronto FC’s players were still conducting introductions to each other.
Some of these players haven’t been teammates very long, after all, and nine of them weren’t on the team a month ago. They looked lost, friendless and hopeless for those first minutes at Portland’s JELD-WEN Field.
“The first 25 minutes was so bad, it was like hell,” said striker Danny Koevermans, who slid home the late equalizer in the 2-2 draw at Portland. “But after that, you could see that we could play football.”
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Koevermans is one of the early newcomers, having signed on as a Designated Player with midfielder Torsten Frings on June 29. But neither could make their TFC debuts until July 20.
The rebuilt club, which had lost four successive league matches, fell behind 2-0. The Timbers first goal came after Joao Plata had hit the post at the Portland end. The second came on a penalty after a foul in the box by another newcomer, defender Andy Iro.
Even down 2-0, Toronto looked as if they might at least score. And that first goal was scored by the newest TFC player, 22-year-old Peri Marosevic, who was let go by FC Dallas this past week and was picked up by TFC, an acquisition that was announced on Thursday.
After coming into the match as a second-half substitute on Saturday, Marosevic scored the first goal in the 71st minute that gave Toronto hope for a tie, which Koevermans provided 10 minutes later, converting a cross from Plata.
“Words can't really describe that,” Marosevic said when asked what it felt like to score in his debut. “First of all, I've got to thank Toronto FC for giving me that opportunity, having that trust in me and taking that chance.
“Obviously coming here to Portland, it's a tough environment and we knew we were going to face a good side. But we grouped ourselves together well and this team has great character and it showed — we worked hard for each other and we never gave up and it showed in the second half."
Added Koevermans, “It feels good. We have a point. When you’re 2-0 down and get a point, you have to be happy. Even when we were 2-0 down, we kept our heads up and we went for the goals and we deserve the point.”