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NY Red Bulls top Toronto FC 1-0 after Giovinco penalty miss

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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.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

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The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

Three items of USMNT interest

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The United States men’s national team begins a fortnight of friendlies with Monday’s 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff against Bolivia in Chester, Penn.

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Even under the tutelage of an interim manager — Dave Sarachan has yet to lose since taking the reins from Bruce Arena — these young Yanks can make statements as the USMNT looks to the 2019 Gold Cup and hopefully the 2021 Confederations Cup.

Here’s what to keep an eye on:

Bono, Hamid, or Horvath?

While Sarachan may not be around for the long-term, goalkeeping coach Matt Reis has a good chance of staying on the staff. Even if he doesn’t, the GK usage against Bolivia, Ireland, and France will say something about the unit.

The fact that Sarachan pulled Alex Bono away from Toronto FC in the middle of MLS season bodes well for his chances to see significant playing time. Bill Hamid (Midtjylland) and Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge) are terrific talents and will be going all out to earn the top spot.

The next of the uncapped gems

Eyes are understandably on Josh Sargent, but he and Bono are joined by five other uncapped players.

Most of the names have danced through the prospect radar for some time, some more than others.

Centerbacks Erik Palmer-Brown (Manchester City) and Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United) seems unlikely to get a ton of time, especially given Sarachan seems to lose track of who’s been capped and who hasn’t as the moments tick away in these friendlies.

Antonee Robinson, 20, is Everton property and behind Jorge Villafana and Eric Lichaj on the depth chart, though he should see a chance to show as the side’s left back of the future at some point.

Midfielders Keaton Parks (Benfica) and Alejandro Guido (Tijuana) are lesser known entities, and those are always intriguing for USMNT fanatics. Will these two trend toward the national team paths of Emerson Hyndman or Darlington Nagbe?

The Pulisic progress report

There’s little doubt about Christian Pulisic, but he’s officially been handed the keys to the USMNT kingdom. After an exhausting season with Borussia Dortmund and free from the shackles of most of his teammates from the World Cup qualifying failure, how will he fare with all the eyes, arms, and legs of Bolivia, Ireland, and — most interestingly — France taking aim at him.

TFC on CCL loss: “Feels the heart has been ripped from the chest”

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Michael Bradley went 90 minutes at center back, Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco scored, and Toronto FC nearly, oh-so-nearly, became the first Major League Soccer side to win a continental title in the CONCACAF Champions League era.

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“We wanted to be the first (MLS side) to lift the CONCACAF Champions League trophy,” said goalkeeper Alex Bono, according to MLSSoccer.com. “We failed in that goal; that’s massively disappointing. … This is the way the game goes, it’s unjust; it feels the heart has been ripped from the chest sometimes.”

Bono made some big saves in regulation as TFC flipped its 2-1 first leg loss on its ear over 90 minutes, but Chivas Guadalajara scored all four of their penalty kick attempts as Jonathan Osorio hit the bar and Bradley set his effort on a path to the moon.

That part was possibly academic, as Chivas could’ve sealed it with their fifth penalty, but Marky Delgado’s miss of a perfect Sebastian Giovinco stoppage time cross is what sent the match into kicks.

Here’s how The Toronto Sun’s Kurt Larson framed his post-match interview with Delgado, described as one of the few players not to walk past the media after the loss:

“That’s football sometimes,” Delgado searched for words. “Sometimes you win. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes it goes in. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s heartbreaking.”

It felt cruel to keep him standing there any longer.

“Wherever we are, we want to win,” the soft-spoken American said. “Unfortunately today we didn’t, but we know we dominated the game.”

And Bradley, in the season after Toronto won a trouble but also 18 months removed from missing a PK in the MLS Cup Final — not to mention marshaling the USMNT midfield in its monumental failure to qualify for the World Cup was mostly good in playing out-of-position.

“In the biggest moments, we threw caution to the wind and played with balls, bravery, and pride in ourselves, in each other, in our club and our city,” Bradley said on Canadian television outlet TSN.

They did, and now they must hope to win the Canadian Championship, MLS Supporters’ Shield, or MLS Cup to get another shot at qualifying for the Club World Cup.

Toronto loses CONCACAF Champions League in PKs

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Chivas Guadalajara scored on all of its penalty kicks to clinch a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League Final, breaking the hearts of Toronto FC in Mexico on Wednesday and earning a berth in the 2018 Club World Cup.

Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore scored in regulation as Toronto FC picked up a 2-1 win to reverse their first leg loss and push it to kicks.

Orbelin Pineda scored Chivas’ goal.

Hometown kid Jonathan Osorio hit the cross bar on Toronto’s second PK and Michael Bradley sent the fifth offering into outer space.

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Toronto flew out of the gates, and Rodolfo Cota came flying off his line to deny Altidore a 10th minute chance.

Alex Bono collected a header off a Chivas corner kick earned by a counterattack.

Pineda then made Toronto’s task even harder with a 19th minute goal, cooking Auro’s mark to reach a through ball and dancing around Bono for 1-0.

But Altidore was somehow unmarked for Nic Hasler’s pass despite five Chivas defenders and Cota inside the six-yard box, and TFC leveled the second leg at 1.

And TFC got the next goal through Giovinco, slipped through by Marky Delgado and taking advantage of a yard of space and a second to shoot with his fourth goal of the CCL knockout rounds.

The Reds kept coming in the second half, with Delgado winning a big 50-50 ball deep in Chivas territory and Victor Vasquez ripping a shot that Cota dove to smother.

Chivas found its footing in 58th minute, sending a shot over the bar before Jesus Godinez hit the post in the 61st (though his dive seemingly had the near post covered). Bono the next knocked a free kick over the bar from a similar position as the ball that beat him in the first leg.

Javier Lopez curled a vicious attempt just over the goal in the 72nd. He’d have the next best chances moments after Altidore subbed off with an apparent hamstring injury, but dribbled onto Bono’s lap and fired off the keeper.

Giovinco worked a 1-2 with Osorio and cruised a shot just wide of the far post in the 87th minute. Delgado then mailed a sitter over the bar in the first minute of stoppage time.