Toronto FC

'Unlucky' Union not panicking over punchless defeat

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'Unlucky' Union not panicking over punchless defeat

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. — Fafa Picault had the ball at his feet.

Shielding himself from two Toronto FC defenders at the top of the box, Picault, looking for the equalizer, took a touch, stepped inside and launched a right-footed rocket that beat Alex Bono before carving in and ricocheting off the crossbar. 

“That’s a shot I’m pretty good for — cut in and bend it back post,” said Picault, who has one goal on the year but has been one of the Union's most active attacking players. “It goes in a lot, sometimes it doesn’t go in. Today, it didn’t go in. It’s unlucky honestly.”

It summed up a difficult night for the Union, who were blanked by Bono and Toronto FC, 2-0, on Friday at Talen Energy Stadium (see observations). They outshot the visitors, 14-12, took the 6-2 advantage in corners and went 16-7 in crosses. It didn’t matter.

“I think we definitely played better soccer,” Union left back Ray Gaddis said. “We had some good performances on the field, we hit the crossbar, we had more shots than they did. It didn’t fall our way.”

Lack of finish has been a running theme for the 2018 Union. The club began the season with six goals in its first nine games, but saw an uptick with nine goals in its next four. But after Friday, the bad-luck Union seem to have returned. 

“It’s a matter of putting it in the back of the net,” Gaddis said, whose club also flubbed a pair of breakaways in the first half. “We created a lot of chances. To see the team go forward and create, it’s good. We have to translate them into goals. It was a good evening.”

While the Union were without Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin, which forced Union manager Jim Curtin into moving offensive catalyst Borek Dockal back into more of a free-range midfield position, their producers weren’t able to produce. 

C.J. Sapong, who has one goal in his last 11 starts, was kept without a shot attempt. Same with Dockal and Marcus Epps on the right wing. But Curtin didn’t see an issue with the effort. 

“Soccer can be a cruel game at times,” Curtin said. “You look at missing your top two players, starting the way we did, creating a ton of chances in the first half, being aggressive. We put a very attack-minded lineup on the field and the guys did everything to create chances in the first half. We just weren’t clinical.”

The good news for the Union is they’ll have time to reset. Thanks to the World Cup break, they get over two weeks away from MLS action before facing the Vancouver Whitecaps at home on June 23. 

It’s exactly what they need to jump-start their attack once again.

“We’ve had a lot of games, a lot traveling,” Picault said. “Now’s a chance for us to regroup, recharge and get ready to come back.”

Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Union in shutout loss to Toronto FC

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Mistakes, missed opportunities sink Union in shutout loss to Toronto FC

BOX SCORE

CHESTER, Pa. — With impact players missing on both sides, Friday’s match at Talen Energy Stadium came down to efficiency in the offensive end. 

Toronto FC won that battle. Pouncing on two defensive-zone mistakes, Jonathan Osorio scored twice as the Union fell, 2-0.

It was the Union’s second consecutive defeat as they fell to 5-7-3. Toronto FC claimed its fourth win of the season, moving its record to 4-7-2. Including the playoffs, the Union haven't defeated Toronto in 10 straight games.

• Without Jozy Altidore and Drew Moor, Toronto FC entered Friday’s match with one win in its last five games and appeared ripe for defeat. But despite the club’s struggles, it forced the Union into playing from behind for nearly the entire contest.

• In the 13th minute, the Union received two chances to take control. First, Fafa Picault was sprung loose into Toronto territory but was stuffed on his breakaway shot that was placed into Alex Bono’s body. Bono finished with the four-save shutout.

• Immediately following that play, as the ball went back down the field, Ilsinho stripped Michael Bradley for a partial breakaway of his own. His shot trickled well wide.

• Those misses would cost the Union (see story), as five minutes later Toronto would capitalize. Osorio slipped between to defenders to accept a sneaky pass from Victor Vazquez. Unlike the Union’s breakaways, Osorio didn’t miss the net to grab the 1-0 Toronto lead.

• It should be noted Ray Gaddis had an impressive game. While also frustrating Sebastian Giovinco, the left back had two shots, one on goal. He was active on the offensive end despite lacking finish.

• The Union were without midfielders Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin as a result of red-card suspensions. In their place, Borek Dockal, normally the center attacking midfielder, moved back to the No. 8 spot for Bedoya, while Warren Creavalle was activated at the No. 6 spot for Medunjanin. Ilsinho moved into the No. 10 spot.

• The Union nearly found an opening in the 58th minute, when Picault cut inside and ripped a right-footed shot from the top of the box. The strong attempt curled in but found the crossbar and ejected out. It’s the closest the Union would come to tying the game in the second half.

• But an egregious Union error would ultimately doom them in the 79th. Keegan Rosenberry’s own-zone throw-in was intercepted by Giovinco at the top of the box. The Italian played it forward to a streaking Osorio for the easy 2-0 Toronto lead. 

• In a surprise move down one, Union manager Jim Curtin tapped Derrick Jones for Marcus Epps in the 69th minute. It was Jones’ first minutes since March 3, when he played five minutes against the New England Revolution. It was just his third appearance in almost a calendar year.

• The Union will have time to think about Friday’s loss. They don’t return to MLS action until June 23, when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Union shut out on the road by last-place Toronto FC

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Union shut out on the road by last-place Toronto FC

BOX SCORE

TORONTO — Victor Vazquez, Sebastian Giovinco and Jay Chapman all scored to lead Toronto FC to a 3-0 victory against the Union on Friday night.

Vazquez got Toronto on the scoreboard in the 29th minute and Giovinco made it 2-0 in the 65th with his first goal of the season. Toronto (2-4-1) earned its first league victory in five weeks.

Chapman capped the scoring in the 90th.

Toronto started the night last in the 11-team Eastern Conference, but leapfrogged Montreal and D.C. United. The Union (2-4-2) are a point ahead.

Toronto was missing several regulars as forward Jozy Altidore (hamstring) and defenders Drew Moor (quad), Justin Morrow (calf), Chris Mavinga (hamstring), Eriq Zavaleta (quad) and Nick Hagglund (hamstring) all sat out.

Coach Greg Vanney used a 4-1-4-1 formation with captain Michael Bradley anchoring a back line that included Gregory van der Wiel, Auro and Ashtone Morgan. The Union went with a 4-2-3-1 setup.

Howling winds were a factor on a chilly, clear evening at the lakefront stadium. Giovinco tested Andre Blake in the early going with a shot from distance that forced the Union goalkeeper to fully extend for the save.

Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono showed his form moments later. He displayed quick reflexes to get a piece of the ball on a header by Union captain Alejandro Bedoya. The ball hit the bar and was cleared.

Giovinco helped set up the opening goal by finding Nicolas Hasler charging down the right side. Hasler fed the ball into the middle where it was deftly stroked into the corner by Vazquez.

The Union managed the occasional scoring chance, but seemed rather flummoxed overall. Toronto used quick, efficient passes and an aggressive style to break down the Union defense.

Vazquez helped pull the strings for Toronto while Bradley and van der Wiel offered a steady presence at the back.

The Union's Jack Elliott was shown a yellow card in the first half. Giovinco and Morgan were also carded before halftime.

Toronto used a strong counter-attack to pad its lead in the second half as Jonathan Osorio found space in the midfield before passing to Giovinco outside the box. Giovinco took advantage of a rather timid defensive effort from Elliott, who didn't make a challenge and stumbled. The Toronto star moved past him and used his left foot to squeeze the ball past Blake.

Chapman later delivered a quality strike for his first goal of the season to put the game out of reach.

Toronto's last MLS win was 3-1 over Real Salt Lake on March 30. The Reds fielded reserve-heavy lineups last month during their run to the CONCACAF Champions League final.