COLUMBUS, Ohio – In an unlikely come-from-behind victory for Toronto FC, it was an unlikely hero who stepped up to bag a brace that earned the club its fifth straight win.
Tosaint Ricketts was the catalyst for a major shift for Toronto in the 2-1 win at Columbus Crew SC on Wednesday night. Head coach Greg Vanney made an unorthodox 40th minute substitution, sending Ricketts in as a second striker to replace center back Chris Mavinga while the club trailed Columbus 1-0.
It took Ricketts some time to adjust to the match as Vanney made other changes to both his tactics and personnel. But in the final minutes, the striker shined, finishing off two opportunities after the 80th minute to complete the comeback.
For Vanney, the scrappy match was the perfect opportunity for the athletic Ricketts.
“Tos has a knack for getting on the end of things,” Vanney said after the match. “When he has some space to open his legs and run in behind or attack the goal and try to get on the end of crosses, that’s when you see him at his best. That’s the way this game was.”
The performance may mark Ricketts’ emergence as a third option at forward for Toronto behind Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, who missed Wednesday’s match and is questionable for Saturday’s home game against Minnesota(3 pm ET | CTV in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US) due to a heel injury. The Toronto boss said it’s “really important” to find that third option, and hopes Ricketts can fill the role moving forward.
“We need a third forward who can step in and pick up some goals,” he said. “Obviously you can’t ride Jozy and Seba all the time, every game for 90 minutes. Tos has proven that [he’s capable] last year, and he came in today and proved he’s able to do it. It’s a huge asset for us.”
And while Ricketts knows he’s behind two of the most prolific attackers in the league, he’s patiently waiting his opportunities and hoping to make the best of them.
“I know what I’m up against,” he said. “I know Seba and Jozy are great players and I learn a lot from watching them. But I know I always have to be ready when called upon.”
He was on Wednesday, with the pair of goals marking his first MLS brace and just his fifth goal since joining Toronto last season. After his first goal, Ricketts bellowed in celebration in a moment of emotion. He said he was feeling “relief and excitement” and that the overall performance will help his “momentum, confidence and overall mental state.”
“It felt really good,” he said. “I hadn’t really gotten many chances since the beginning of the season, so it felt good to get those two today.”