Toronto
Photo by Kelcey Wright Johnson/The Ball Out

Toronto, Ontario, Canada — Nobody can say the 23,000 Toronto FC fans at the game on Wednesday aren’t passionate. It was rainy, it was windy and the stands were still packed.

When the defending MLS Cup champions went down 0-3 in the first half of play against D.C. United, the players in red were booed off the (brand new) field. They looked disorganized on the defensive end and their offense looked like a toddlers’ scribbles.

But, that was just the beginning of a very wild rollercoaster night at Toronto’s BMO Field. I guess you could call it a comeback. Maybe. If nothing else, it was an exciting game to watch and fans got their money’s worth in the second half alone.

“In the first half we were so poor,” said Michael Bradley, TFC midfielder. “We [had] to recharge mentally, physically and look at ourselves in a real, honest way.”

Bradley mentioned rediscovering energy and enthusiasm — and that’s exactly what Toronto did in the second half.

“I felt like they needed a clear plan, a little push to believe they could this,” said Greg Vanney, head coach of TFC. “We needed to be confident, we needed to be aggressive, we needed to play without fear, play without concern of losing a pass, but to play aggressive, to play forward, to go for it.”

Toronto’s Nick Hagglund came alive. The Ohio native was the difference-maker against D.C United scoring two second-half goals. Two of his teammates — Osorio and Vazquez — scored the first two goals, and Hagglund tied it back up after another D.C. United goal in the 86th minute as he raced up from the back line to connect on a cross from Morrow.

But then, D.C. scored a dagger in the 90th minute to go up by one over Toronto and the fans began clearing out of the outdoor arena.

Seconds later, in injury time, fans were stopped in their tracks when 25-year-old Hagglund become the hero of the night tying the game once again when he connected a cross from Osorio.

“Five minutes left in the game Greg says ‘Abandon centre back, head forward,’ so just got in the box and waited for some great balls,” he said after the game.

Shortly after, time ran out and the game ended in a draw and TFC couldn’t beat the last place team in the Eastern Conference. But let’s be honest here: with the way the first half went, a draw is a pretty good result for Toronto — a moral victory in the least.

“A wild game, but given the way it started, we can’t be too picky about [only] taking a point from this one,” said Vanney after the game.

 

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