Toronto FC are a very good team; they boast a plethora of talented players and are currently leading the race for the Supporters’ Shield. There is no shame to losing to a club like that.
But that doesn’t make Minnesota United’s loss sting any less, does it? This loss left a bitter taste in my mouth, but in a different way than the thrashings against Portland and Atlanta.
This feeling might actually have been worse. We looked bad for pretty much the entirety of those blowouts. But against Toronto, we looked good. The team gave me hope. And then they dashed it.
Some of the schoolboy defending from the early season drubbings returned in Canada. But, on the plus side, Abu Danladi had another productive start (despite also conceding a penalty kick), and Kevin Molino brought us a goal of pure beauty.
Before we look at the goals at which the Loon’s were at fault, let’s take a quick look at Toronto’s second goal. The Reds whipped in a corner, which bounced off Christian Ramirez and in to the Loons’ goal.
Now you might be thinking, “Why didn’t Christian clear that ball instead of just deflecting it in?” Why indeed....
Now, you might be thinking it looks Chris Mavinga (the guy in red on Christian’s back) seems to have his hand on Christian’s shoulder and is pulling him backwards. You might even think it looks like he has his legs off the ground to leverage his body weight as he pulls Ramirez down.
And you’d be right.
The forward himself doesn’t seem very impressed by the decision either.
Things happen, I think the film says the necessary comments on what happened. https://t.co/BXiVWnmXRi— Christian Ramirez (@Chris_Ramirez17) May 14, 2017
But, no call, so let’s move on.
Defensive Lapses Prove Costly
Earlier in the year, I wrote on the defensive breakdowns that lead to United shipping a record-breaking number of goals through the first four games. As of late, however, there have been far fewer glaring mistakes for me to write about.
Until this weekend.
The first goal the Loons conceded was off a penalty kick that Abu gave away rather rashly. I’ll get to that in a minute.
The second goal, as I mentioned above, probably shouldn’t have stood. Nothing we can do about that.
But the third goal....the third goal is one of the most frustrating things this team has put me through. Even worse than Etienne Barbara’s brief spell with the Stars.
The lead up to the goal was the result of some bad luck for Brent Kallman, but that doesn’t change the fact this this ball should have been cleared before the attack ever got dangerous.
Brent challenges Jozy Altidore in a fairly innocuous position. Woodbury’s Finest appears to win the ball from the U.S. national team forward twice, but the first time it falls back to Altidore and the second time Thiesson attempts to clear it...
Thiesson’s clearance puts the ball in a more dangerous place than when this sequence all started, and Altidore reacts quicker than the defenders and gets to the ball first.
To better illustrate what happened, we’ve included the below video with analysis (volume up!)
As a result of that sequence of unfortunate events, Altidore is able to play in a cross.
United’s defenders look to be marked up as the ball is crossed. But as the ball is hit, the two Toronto players make runs.
Marco Delgado makes a run to the back post, dragging Marc Burch wide with him. As Burch is pulled out, Tosaint Ricketts drifted in to the space he vacated in the middle of the six yard box.
Francisco Calvo is a great defender who has proven to be a fine addition to the team this season, but here he is caught ball-watching and doesn’t notice Ricketts ghosting in to space behind him until it’s too late.
Burch is unable to get in front of Ricketts, and Calvo only turns around in time to see the Canadian striker heading the ball in to the net.
Just like that, in the 77th minute, Ricketts stuck the dagger into black and blue hearts everywhere.
Abu’s Busy Day
There were flashes of good and bad both on display at BMO Park. First, the bad:
This is what people refer to as a “forward’s tackle.” Danladi dives in over-exuberantly and goes through Raheem Edwards’s ankle before he got the ball. He doesn’t necessarily need to do that there, and it certainly looks like he mistimes the tackle.
Abu makes up for this lapse in judgment later in the match when he set up Molino for a wonderful goal.
Seriously, let’s just enjoy this for a second:
Ok, now that I’m done basking in that, let’s break it down.
The play starts at midfield with Ibson, who plays a pass to Danladi as the rookie runs across the front of his defender.
The club’s first-overall draft pick gets the ball as the most advanced attacker and sees no way directly to goal.
However, by the nature of the 3-5-2 formation that TFC play, there was space for Danladi to take the ball out wide. Abu beats his defender with a deft touch to the outside and finds more room to operate.
Danladi is in such a dangerous spot now that he draws three players to him. One of the players Abu pulls is Benoit Cheyrou (red #8) who had previously been marking Molino. This left the Trinidad & Tobago man in plenty of space to receive the ball from Danladi.
Molino’s first touch brings him past defender Nick Hagglund and into the penalty area. Normally, shot’s from this angle aren’t exactly high percentage.
But in this case, it was unstoppable.
What did you think of the Toronto match? Frustrated or impressed by Danladi? Predictions for the Galaxy match? Let us know in the comments below!