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Toronto FC pays for missed scoring opportunities, loses 2-1 to Nashville SC

Toronto FC defender Raoul Petretta (bottom right) and Nashville SC midfielder Alex Muyl (19) battle for the ball during the first half of MLS soccer action in Toronto, Wednesday, June 19, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Original Publication Date June 19, 2024 - 6:56 PM

TORONTO - After gifting Chicago four goals in a shoddy performance in a 4-1 defeat Saturday, Toronto FC found a new and equally painful way to lose Wednesday.

Toronto dominated the first half against Nashville SC but only led 1-0 at the break. It could have been 5-0 and TFC eventually paid for those squandered chances.

Nashville's Sam Surridge scored twice in the second half, including the 90th-minute winner, to complete a 2-1 comeback win.

It was the 14th goal that Toronto has conceded in the last 15 minutes of a game. Only San Jose has conceded more goals in the dying minutes.

"We've got to figure some stuff out because the stats don't lie. We're dreadful in that last 30 minutes of games," said coach John Herdman.

Substitute Tyler Boyd set up the winning goal, slicing through the Toronto defence before sending in a cross for Surridge, in close, to knock home with a nifty backheel for his seventh of the season.

"Absolutely horrendous" was Herdman's assessment of the defending.

Alonso Coello, with his first MLS goal, scored for Toronto.

Toronto (7-9-3) was awful Saturday, prompting Herdman to demand that "the real us" show up Wednesday. He got a facsimile of it for about an hour before an announced crowd of 23,361 at a steamy BMO Field before Nashville (5-5-8) turned the tables despite putting just three shots on target on the night.

It was 31 Celsius at kickoff, feeling like 41 as Toronto experienced a heat wave. Nashville wore black, nevertheless.

Federico Bernardeschi, returning from suspension, and fellow Italian Lorenzo Insigne pulled the strings for Toronto, which turned up the heat as the first half wore on. TFC led 1-0 at the break and could have been ahead by five after outshooting Nashville 13-4 (4-0 in shots on target).

Toronto had a glorious chance to go ahead in the 31st minute but Bernardeschi slipped as he took a penalty, sending the ball over the crossbar. The Italian won the penalty kick, dragged down by defender Brian Anunga who grabbed a handful of Bernardeschi's jersey.

The penalty came seconds after Prince Owusu hit the Nashville goalpost with a header off an Insigne cross.

It was Bernardeschi's third penalty miss of the season, although he scored on the rebound when his penalty was saved against FC Dallas. He converted his first six penalties in league play for TFC.

Toronto finally opened the scoring in the 34th minute with Bernardeschi doing the hard work, beating a defender and keeping the ball in play before sending a cross over. An Owusu dummy run left an unmarked Coello to knock the ball home.

It was sweet redemption for the 24-year-old Spaniard who had a rough night in Saturday's loss.

Insigne had a couple of scoring chances in the first half but missed the target, as did Owusu from close range.

A "gassed" Insigne came off in the 62nd minute as he works his way back from injury and family time for the birth of his child.

Three minutes later, Nashville scored on its first shot on target, with 2022 MVP Hany Mukhtar, allowed too much space, rounding Deybi Flores before finding Surridge, who opened his hips and curled a low shot past goalkeeper Luka Gavran.

Flores and Mukhtar were cautioned in the 71st minute after tangling in the tackle. Minutes later Gavran had to be sharp to stop a Walker Zimmerman header off a free kick.

Toronto is now winless in its last five league outings (0-3-2) and has won just one of its last eight (1-5-2).

Nashville has lost just one of its last six games (2-1-3) since blanking Toronto 2-0 on May 15 at Geodis Park.

Bernardeschi and defender Nicksoen Gomis returned from suspension Wednesday.

Their availability accounted for two of the three changes to Herdman's starting lineup. Owusu, restricted to 27 minutes off the bench Saturday as he returned from a calf injury, was also back as a starter.

Wednesday's game was on familiar ground for Nashville interim head coach Rumba Munthali. Born in Zambia, the 45-year-old Munthali was raised in Brampton, Ont., and played for the Toronto Lynx.

Both teams were missing players for Wednesday's game, which celebrated Indigenous heritage.

Toronto captain/midfielder Jonathan Osorio (Canada) and fullback/wingback Richie Laryea (Canada) and goalkeeper Sean Johnson (U.S.) are at Copa America. Wingback Tyrese Spicer, who missed the Chicago game with a back issue, remains out while defender Shane O'Neill and midfielder Brandon Servania are long-term injury absentees.

Toronto visits the New York Red Bulls on Saturday while Nashville hosts New York City FC.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2024

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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