Sports TFC stumbles again, falling to Seattle at home

06:40  10 may  2018
06:40  10 may  2018 Source:

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Sounders will be facing a weakened TFC lineup. By Jeremiah Oshan@JeremiahOshan May 5, 2017, 4:58pm PDT. Share. Tweet. Giovinco, Vazquez, Zavaleta and Beitashour didn't make the trip to Seattle .

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Toronto FC’s long list of injuries caught up to the team Wednesday night, as the Reds lost 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders in the first game between the teams since last December’s MLS Cup final.

Midfielder Nico Hasler was the latest TFC player to go down, joining defenders Nick Hagglund, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga, Justin Morrow and Eriq Zavaleta, and striker Jozy Altidore on the sidelines. Victor Vazquez started but left the game at halftime, suffering from a knock of his own.

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Seattle’s lineup was also far from its best, with the Sounders missing strikers Jordan Morris and Clint Dempsey, midfielders Victor Rodriguez and Nicolas Lodeiro, and defender Roman Torres. All told, only half of the 22 players that started December’s final were on the field, a significant depletion considering neither team’s preferred starting XI has changed drastically.

Seattle’s defensive 5-4-1 formation was telling of its mentality early in the game, but it was Toronto’s fill-in backline that got exposed early in the second half on the game-winning goal. It was just the second victory of the season for Seattle, who rose from last to second-last in the Western Conference with the win.

The visitors were pinned back in their half for much of the first half, particularly in the early stages when Toronto had about 75 per cent of the possession. But Seattle was diligent about keeping its shape and staying tight to its marks, making it hard for the Reds to find ways in. The chances TFC created in the first 20-odd minutes of the game were either too fancy or too forced to come together, or were squandered from close range by the likes of midfielders Jay Chapman and Marky Delgado. Chapman was the only change in Toronto’s starting lineup from its 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Friday,

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And possession doesn’t win games; goals do. Seattle drew first blood on a counter attack in the 25th minute. After Reds striker Sebastian Giovinco was brought down near the top of the Sounders box, the visitors worked quickly to transition, getting the ball to Norwegian midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikremon in TFC’s half. He played a ball from the right side into Will Bruin in the middle, a cross that was just out of reach of Gregory van der Wiel’s outstretched leg, and Bruin scored the Sounders’ first regulation-time goal against Toronto since 2016.

The game opened up slightly after that but the Reds remained stronger on the attack. Toronto missed a golden opportunity to tie things up when Giovinco hit a free kick off Seattle’s goalpost and the ball landed at Delgado’s feet in the six-yard box in the 37th minute, but the midfielder put his shot on top of Stefan Frei’s net rather than in it.

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The teams were level three minutes later, though, when a chipped free kick by Vazquez found Giovinco on the right side of Seattle’s six-yard box. The striker volleyed a ball across the net, where Jonathan Osorio finished for his second goal of the year.

But the Sounders’ Bruin acted as provider in the second half, splitting Toronto’s makeshift centre back duo of Michael Bradley and van der Wiel to play midfielder Handwalla Bwana into the box for Seattle’s winner. It was the Kenya native’s first goal in Major League Soccer. Shouts for offside were waved away by referee Ted Unkel, but what Toronto really missed in that moment was Bradley in his midfielder’s role, putting pressure on Bruin as he delivered the ball.

TFC coach Greg Vanney went for it in the end, bringing on strikers Jordan Hamilton and Tosaint Ricketts for Chapman and Delgado. But try as they may, the Reds couldn’t avoid their second home league defeat of this year, already one more loss than it suffered at BMO Field in the 2017 regular season.

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