Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen calls showing at New York "extremely pleasing" despite late equalizer

What looked like a well-deserved win for Toronto FC quickly turned sour after the New York Red Bulls scored a late equalizer in added time to end an exciting affair at two goals each.

Toronto FC’s comeback effort was cut short in the 94th minute when, up 2-1, the Reds conceded a goal to Bradley Wright-Phillips off a Tim Cahill headed pass into the box.

“It’s one of those games where you look beyond the result and look at the performance,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen told after the match. “I thought the performance was extremely pleasing. We dominated large facets of the game, and the movement off the ball, and the possession was extremely pleasing at times. We had a lot of opportunities and we controlled the game very well.”

Down 1-0 after conceding in the first half, Toronto FC mounted a comeback in the second, Jermain Defoe scoring his eighth goal of the season to put Toronto and New York level at one apiece before the hour mark. Toronto then substituted Brazilian forward Gilberto into the match and soon after, he and Defoe had a bit of a coming together over a free kick, Defoe furious that Gilberto claimed the shot.

Gilberto immediately made Defoe – and the rest of the Toronto FC camp – come to smiles when he smashed home the free kick with a powerful shot that left Luis Robles stunned. The two shared the goal celebration and those ill feelings instantly vanished, something Nelsen says only came up due to a lack of communication.

“Generally what happens is, players have kind of, feelings, when they look at the situation, they just get a feeling that something’s going to happen,” Nelsen explained.  “Gil’ got that feeling when he got over that ball. He just felt like something good was going to happen. It’s an instinct that footballers have.

“Unfortunately, his English is still not as great and he couldn’t really convey that to Jermain and quite rightly, JD was standing over the ball, but he had a feeling,” Nelsen continued. “If he spoke perfect English and he said, ‘Jermain, I’ve got a funny feeling this is going to get smashed into the top of the net,’ I think Jermain would have stepped away pretty comfortably.”

So, no bad blood between the two strikers, but the free kick did cause another bit of concern for the TFC camp, as Gilberto seemed to aggravate a hip flexor problem he had been dealing with during the World Cup break.

“Gilberto had a sore hip flexor coming into the game and he thought he was fine but he probably strained it when he smacked it into the top of the net!” Nelsen said, chuckling. “There was a bit of power behind the ball. We have to see once it settles down tomorrow, the next couple of days, if he’s good to go and the extent of it.”

It was Gilberto’s first ever goal in a Toronto FC shirt, a goal that Nelsen hopes will give the Brazilian confidence moving forward.

“It was probably always going to happen like that, something where it was pretty spectacular,” Nelsen said. “That was a world-class goal and it will probably be in the highlight reel for a long time!”

Despite the result, Nelsen is still pleased with a point away from home.

“In a league of parity, any points away from home are very valuable,” Nelsen said. “It keeps our record against Eastern Conference teams very good and now we have to go to Chicago away, we can go to Chicago full of confidence looking to win there.”

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