TFC reserves come away with draw

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:40 PM ET

It might not have meant anything in the standings, but a determined group of largely reserve Toronto FC players played hard and came away with a 1-1 draw over East-leading Philadelphia on the road on Saturday.

With the bulk of Toronto’s top talent either watching from the bench or from home ahead of Tuesday’s crucial match in Dallas — the remaining Reds gamely recovered from a second half goal by Sebastien Le Toux to claim a point in Pennsylvania.

Le Toux has terrorized Toronto over the years and added another goal off of a booming strike in the 43rd minute not long after a rare mistake by TFC keeper Milos Kocic hung defender Ty Harden out to dry.

Kocic who has used an injury to Stefan Frei to prove himself as a more than capable keeper himself, nonetheless kept his side in the game all day with a handful of spectacular stops.

It seemed like Le Toux’s 11th goal of the season – and 10th in his past 11 games - would be enough, but, following strong defensive plays by Andy Iro and Matt Stinson in front of Kocic, the Reds countered with Ryan Johnson equalizing on a clever back-heel off a Nick Soolsma set-up in the 57th minute.

Joao Plata, a welcome addition to the lineup after a three-game absence due to injury, made a solid cross to get the ball to Soolsma and sparked the offence with his creativity.

Needing only a tie to make the playoffs in just its second season, the Union did so against the only Major League Soccer club to ever fail to make the playoffs in its first four — and now five — campaigns.

Toronto has not realistically been in the MLS playoff picture for weeks but remains alive at the CONCACAF Champions League.

In fact, it’s not a stretch to suggest that Tuesday’s game in Dallas — with the winner advancing to the next stage of the competition – is the second-most important in franchise history, behind only the infamous meltdown against New York that cost the team a playoff spot in Year 3, 2009.

Looking ahead to Dallas, head coach Aron Winter wisely gave some of his key players a rest. Midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield stayed in Toronto, while scoring leader Danny Koevermans watched from the stands. Captain Torsten Frings was subbed off not long after Le Toux’s goal.

Toronto was coming off of a two-week break due to international matches.

Toronto should go into Dallas on a high, having lost just twice in its past nine matches in all competitions.

The Reds, 6-13-14, will conclude the MLS season by hosting New England next Saturday.


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