The World Cup may be over, but flashbacks of the memorable Uruguay-Ghana quarterfinal match appeared Saturday for Toronto against the Philadelphia Union.
This time it was Toronto FC’s Maksim Usanov called for the decisive hand ball, but Union striker Sebastien Le Toux did what Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan couldn’t. He buried the ensuing penalty kick in the last minute of stoppage time, giving Philadelphia a 2-1 win at PPL Park.
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For their part, Toronto FC are left to rue a loss that they let get away, and which snapped an eight-game unbeaten streak. The Reds now have to think about a result they hope doesn’t come back to bite them in their quest to clinch the franchise’s first playoff spot.
"We wanted three points," TFC's Chad Barrett told CBC Sports after the game. "We definitely didn't want to come away with less than one, but we were expecting three points."
Mistakes were evident on the Union’s first goal, when veteran defender Nick Garcia failed to mark Michael Orozco Fiscal on a header to beat helpless TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei. And then there was late-game substitute Usanov, who inexplicably put his hand in the path of a shot in the box, drawing a penalty from referee Ramon Hernandez.
Philadelphia weren’t world-beaters in any sense, but they capitalized on Toronto’s errors. If those errors didn’t happen, Toronto’s unbeaten streak in MLS would have likely reached nine.
Despite Dwayne De Rosario’s eight goals and Barrett’s five, TFC are still having trouble creating enough scoring chances. Hence the recent parachuting of second designated player Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez (aka “Mista”) and former Chivas USA forward Maicon Santos in recent days.
With half the season officially over, it’s imperative that the Reds clamp down on their defensive organization to avoid the kinds of errors that can derail all the positives that came from their unbeaten streak.
"We could have got it close within three points of first and we let that slip through us," Barrett said, "but at the halfway point, we have 22 points, and that's halfway to getting where we need to go to get into the playoffs, so we just need to put together a string of wins and go from there."