HARRISON, N.J. – Toronto FC’s winning streak is over, but only by the slightest of margins.
Toronto’s club record six-game winning run came to an end on Friday night, as Greg Vanney’s men were held to a dramatic 1-1 road draw with the New York Red Bulls. Toronto FC nearly took all three points at Red Bull Arena, but were unable to make the most of two opportunities during the Eastern Conference affair’s frantic finish.
While both plays could have made the difference and extended Toronto’s streak, the one that the club will likely rue more is Jozy Altidore’s 81st-minute penalty kick. Altidore had a golden chance to put Toronto ahead after Tosaint Ricketts drew a foul in the 18-yard box, but Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles guessed correctly on the striker’s effort and parried it away to safety.
“You try to get the ‘keeper to guess the wrong way and then at the end of the day you have to hit it better,” said Altidore, who fired low and to the right on the shot. “I didn’t hit it as well as I wanted to probably, and at the end of it, I take it upon myself. It’s my responsibility to raise the game when I can, and tonight wasn’t my night.
“I take full responsibility for that, and we probably could have won the game if I scored that penalty.”
Altidore’s penalty would have put Toronto FC in a great spot had it gone in, but his attempt from 12 yards was not the visitors’ final chance to seize the lead. Toronto looked to have pull off some late magic yet again in the 88th minute when Ricketts pushed home a rebound from in close, but the celebration was cut short due to an offside call that came well after the ball hit the back of the net.
The referees appeared to have deemed Raheem Edwards with interference on the initial take from Benoit Cheyrou, and because the young Canadian was in an offside position when he lifted his leg to allow the ball to go on target, the goal was disallowed.
“After discussing with [the officials after the match], they must have called Raheem off on his positioning on the initial shot,” said Vanney. “I don’t understand the offside rule anymore so I don’t really know if I have a strong opinion. It’s unfortunate because we were scrapping at that point and I thought we were going to get it.”
Coming so close to prevailing on the road and extending the winning streak was a bitter pill for Toronto to swallow after the match. Still, the club knows that there will be positives to draw from when the steam blows over in a day or two.
“It sucks to miss in such a key moment in the game, but it’s sports. It’s dramatic for a reason,” said Altidore. “We didn’t lose the game, we keep the streak alive in terms of not losing, and we just try to move forward now.”