Toronto FC freeze out Inter Miami with a solid effort on frigid night at BMO Field


Reds get first win since August 27

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It was freezing cold at BMO Field on Saturday night, but Toronto FC warmed the hearts of their fans with a solid effort and, more importantly, a long-awaited victory.

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The 2-0 win against Inter Miami was overdue. Prior to Saturday’s triumph, the last time TFC won a MLS regular season game was a 2-0 victory at Charlotte last Aug. 27. With the victory, Toronto’s record this season is now one win, one loss and two draws.

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Heading into Saturday’s match, TFC had a lead all three of its matches in the second half of games this season but failed to win any of them – becoming the first team in MLS history to drop points from winning positions in each of its first three games. The victory over Miami put an end to that, no doubt to the relief of TFC coach Bob Bradley, who was asked about that stat at a media availability last week and replied with “Who cares”.

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“Solid,” said Bradley, when asked about his club’s effort on a frigid Saturday night. “I thought the focus of the team was very good. We just made a few reminders at half-time, in terms of just connecting passes faster, especially on a field that’s slick. A good win.”

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“It’s good to finally get the win,” added midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who scored Toronto’s first goal in the second half. “Now it’s time to keep it going. The fans came out for us, enduring the cold, amazing. Can’t ask for more.”

It was Toronto’s first clean sheet of the season and first for goalkeeper Sean Johnson as a member of the Reds. Johnson made some good saves though much of the credit for the shut-out went to Toronto’s back line, particularly centre back Sigurd Rosted, who was a monster in Toronto’s end.

“We deserved it. We grinded. It was a cold night but the fans were out in full force and we did our thing,” said Johnson, who recorded a whopping 14 clean sheets for New York City FC last season.

“I think were solid in all ways. Overall the team commitment to find moments to press, and in other moments making sure that we were compact and closing things down, I thought that was quite good,” added Bradley, when asked about his team’s defending.

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Osorio scored in the 48th minute and it was a thing of beauty, starting with Federico Bernardeschi feeding Richie Laryea a pass just outside the box on the right side and then Laryea crossing it inside the box to Osorio. The Brampton native right-footed the ball off the post into the bottom left corner.

Another midfielder, Mark-Anthony Kaye, put the Reds up 2-0 in the 69th minute when he headed the ball into the goal from inside the left side of the box following a free kick cross by Bernardeschi.

“It’s a good feeling man,” said Toronto native Kaye, as he walked off the hard BMO Field surface. “First win of the season, first win at home. Let’s keep going.”

“Mark-Anthony had a good game, but I really liked the second half even more than the first half,” said Bradley, who brought Kaye to Toronto last year after coaching him at LAFC earlier in the Canadian international’s MLS career. “I thought he was really anxious in the first half at times. He wants to get into the box, he wants to do a lot of things. I know him well and sometimes he can start running all over. And in the second half he slowed down a little bit.”

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It was a tough, chippy affair with referee Alex Chilowicz issuing numerous yellow cards and constantly getting in the players’ faces. The Reds, winless heading into the match, played hard, determined it seemed to get in the win column.

TFC averaged a league-low seven shots in the first three games of the season this year. Against the Herons, they managed 12, with six on target. Inter Miami recorded nine total shots, three on target. The visitors held a slight edge in possession, 52% to 48%. The Reds also held Miami star forward Josef Martinez to only two shots, none on goal.

The teams played to a scoreless first half. TFC was on the front foot early when a Rosted header from the centre of the box just missed to the right after a corner. In the ninth minute, Johnson made a good lunging save on a Nicolas Stefanelli right foot.

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TFC captain Michael Bradley picked up a yellow card in the 15th minute when he dove to clear the ball away and took out a Miami player. Laryea made a nifty move to dribble around Miami defender and got away a right footed shot just to the left of the box in the 30th minute.

In the 42nd minute, Osorio sent Bernardeschi in alone on the right side with a beautiful pass, but the Italian’s right-foot from a tough angle was stopped by Miami keeper Drake Callender.

In the 61st minute Bob, Bradley substituted forward Ayo Akinola for fellow GTA player Deandre Kerr, who scored last week against Columbus but did not make much of an impact against Miami. At the same time, Miami coach Phil Neville took out midfield star Rodolfo Pizarro for Robert Taylor.

Akinola drew a free kick just outside of the left side of the box in the 84th minute with Bernardeschi taking it and left-footing a shot just over the goal.

TFC next plays on Sat. March 25, at San Jose.

Twitter: @Beezersun

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