Toronto FC will head into Thursday night’s clash against bitter rivals, Montreal Impact with some harsh words from frustrated head coach Greg Vanney ringing in their ears.
And that could spell trouble with a capital ‘T’ for the Quebecers.
2-0 up at half-time, coasting and about to face ten-man DC United in the blistering Florida heat for the second-half, surely Toronto’s margin of victory would only increase.
But it didn’t. Complacency set in and changes involving both central defenders contributed to an unlikely 2-2 result at the end of 90 minutes.
Whether the central defensive changes were forced or not, Laurent Ciman and Eriq Zavaleta, 64th minute replacements for Mavinga and Gonzalez should have been able to deal with the situation. Instead on 84, Ciman gave a loose ball, which was ferried to Felipe, who produced the perfect through pass for Higuain to run onto.
The little Argentinian general, so often a thorn in Montreal sides in the past, never once looked like failing to convert as he confidently ran through the gap provided by Toronto’s soft defensive centre. The finish was ridiculously sublime, Higuain looping the ball over Westberg, who had no chance.
A consolation surely? That seemed to be the feeling running through the Canadian team. Not so, as the ten men of DC United won a free-kick from a deep position, a minute into six mins of added time.
Felipe, the former Impact man, delivered the free-kick. It was met by Birnbaum, and Brilliant applied the finishing header with Ciman a static by-stander.
TFC staring huge opportunity in the face, were left to lick their wounds. They had been as good as DC United were poor, in a one-sided first-half. What happened after the break was simply very poor game management.
It’s not a great result for Montreal either should they have to rely on being one of the best four, third-placed, teams to progress, but what could be worse for the Impact is that Vanney will now have his charges primed, focussed and fired up like never before, for Thursday night’s clash. Impact will need to find similar resolve after their inept showing last Thursday. And we wonder, is it there?
Under the circumstances, the Toronto coach was fairly calm at the post-match interview, but must have been disguising furious rage inside. He will have roasted his players after this one. No doubt about that!
The chance now of Toronto allowing such complacency to manifest itself on Thursday evening against their old rival is as likely as a Samuel Piette goal.
One advantage still attaching itself to the Montreal cause however is a week’s rest before Thursday’s game. Not so Toronto. Having played this morning, they will rest only Tuesday and Wednesday before being back in action after this morning’s disappointment.