Toronto FC hasn’t seen many breaks go their way this season. So, when trailing the NY Red Bulls 1-0 at home with 12 minutes to go, a VAR review awarded Toronto a questionable penalty, it looked like their luck might finally be turning.
Sebastian Giovinco stepped up to the spot in the 78th minute with a chance to draw level, and watched helplessly as his decent effort was acrobatically saved by Luis Robles.
Despite 13 shots on goal, including eight on target, Toronto slumped to its second straight defeat thanks to Alex Bono’s early mistake, with Giovinco unable to rescue a result late. A speculative effort in the 4th minute from Kemar Lawrence squirted past Bono after fumbling the save, and that was all the NY Red Bulls needed to pick up all three points.
New York didn’t look terribly comfortable for much of the second half, and Toronto threatened on numerous occasions. Jordon Hamilton tried to chip Robles just a few minutes after the break, and Giovinco nearly played Jonathan Osorio in on the hour mark, but neither chance came off. Finally, with 12 minutes remaining, their chance came. On a scramble in the box, Red Bulls defender Tim Parker fell next to the ball, and replay showed he pushed the ball away with his right hand. It wasn’t initially given, but VAR spotted the slight touch, and a penalty was awarded, which Giovinco hit to his left and Robles guessed right, diving and parrying the effort away.
For all the Italian has done with Toronto, Giovinco has struggled from the spot his entire MLS career, and yet Greg Vanney keeps shuffling him out there. Giovinco has missed three of his five penalties this season alone, and last year he missed two of three.
The loss drops Toronto all the way to 10th in the East on just 15 points after 16 matches, eight points behind a playoff spot. RBNY, meanwhile, jumps to second in the Eastern Conference with 32 points, five points back of Atlanta United with two fewer games played.