Doneil Henry’s surely happy to be back in the Toronto lineup, but his two Saturday errors cost his team against New England. Thanks to an early giveaway ahead of Patrick Mullins’ first MLS goal and a handball that allowed Lee Nguyen to put the Revolution ahead late from the spot, TFC’s losing streak is at three, with Jay Heaps’ side unbeaten in four after its 2-1 win at BMO Field.
Henry, along with Jermain Defoe and Jonathan Osorio, was one of three Toronto starters returning from injury after the team’s bye week – health they brought hope the Reds could recapture their early season form. In the sixth minute, those hopes looked set to be rewarded, with Jackson opening the scoreing from well outside the box.
It was Henry’s first big mistake that allowed New England to equalize. Under no pressure, Henry passed a ball from just outside Toronto’s penalty area to Revolution midfielder Daigo Kobayashi, who was standing alone roughly 35 yards from goal. Quickly playing the ball forward, Kobayashi allowed Mullins to capitalize on Henry’s miscue, the former Maryland forward’s left-footed blast beating Julio César from 21 yards out.
Deep in the second half — after New England had looked better until intermission, but Toronto controlled the second — a far post cross from the left by Revs attacker Steve Neumann was headed back toward the spot by Chris Tierney. Mullins was there to put a shot toward goal, but a lunging Henry was called for a hand ball when the shot appeared to strike him at the base of an extended right arm. After Nguyen sent César the wrong way, the Revolution had its third win in four – the team’s first ever win at BMO Field.
Like last week’s win over Sporting Kansas City (as well as the team’s victory in San Jose earlier this season), the result was a testament to the team’s ability to stay close enough to take advantage of what comes. In Santa Clara, that was a extra time chance to counter. Last week, it was Aurelien Collin’s red card. This week, it was Henry’s errors. That may not be a formula for world domination, but it’s a resourcefulness that will leave a team playing into November.
The Revs still have issues. Jose Goncalves is a big miss, particularly with Andrew Farrell’s positioning still a work in progress. And as Teal Bunbury skied an open chance near the end of regulation time, we were reminded the team hasn’t replaced Juan Agudelo. Yet with Lee Nguyen controlling play in midfield and the team playing savvy, relatively mistake-free soccer, the Revs can take advantage of opportunities like today’s.
That Toronto gave the Revs that chance harps on the Reds’ ongoing theme. Despite the return of Defoe, the newfound health of Osorio, and a healthier Michael Bradley, the team put only three shots on target. Though they didn’t give up possession today was willingly as they have throughout the season, Toronto’s only goal was a somewhat freakish one. Gilberto may have come close late from a Mark Bloom cross, but that initiative happened after Toronto had fallen behind. This team is still producing too few chances, given the talent in its lineup.
As a result, Toroto’s below “five hundred”: three wins; fourth losses. The team is now as healthy as its been since week one, but that may not matter. If Toronto continues to approach games as if they don’t have the talent to control its opposition, the team will be left with too many results decided by random defensive errors.