TFC rallies in stoppage time to earn draw with Sporting KC
Bradley Orr's header in stoppage time gives point to Reds
Down to 10 men and behind on the scoreboard, Toronto FC displayed its perseverance.
Striker Luke Moore's 67th-minute goal erased a 1-0 deficit and defender Bradley Orr's 91st-minute header provided the final equalizer as Toronto salvaged a 2-2 draw on the road against Sporting Kansas City, the reigning Major League Soccer champions.
"You've got to show character in games like this," said striker Jermain Defoe, who transferred to Toronto FC from Tottenham Hotspur during the off-season. "Away from home, it's always going to be difficult. But to go down to 10 men a it's a show of character to come back on the road and get a point."
Already trailing by a goal, Toronto FC's comeback hopes appeared to suffer a severe blow in the 63rd minute when defender Steven Caldwell was sent off for a serious foul after cleating Sporting KC midfielder Toni Dovale in the right groin with a flying challenge.
Instead, less than five minutes after the serious foul sent Caldwell to the showers early, Toronto FC (4-4-1) rallied and then did so again after falling behind on Dom Dwyer's 84th-minute penalty kick.
"The guys had to climb a bit of a mountain, and they did that," said Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen. "What I loved about this, I sat here about a year ago in this same situation when we went down to 10 men and folded like a wet paper bag, to tell you the truth. It was three (goals) going on eight, but we looked very solid today and we got — through character and determination and battling through all the variables that were thrown against the guys — what I think was a well-deserved draw."
Sporting KC (5-4-3) controlled nearly 68 per cent of the possession and outshot TFC 17-7, but both teams settled for a single point after Orr headed home a chipped volley by fellow defender Nick Hagglund in the dying minutes.
"We didn't play very well, but we were solid," Nelsen said.
He did take exception to referee Baldomero Toledo sending off Caldwell for spiking midfielder Toni Dovale in the right groin on a flying challenge.
"I didn't think I went in with any malicious attempt or excessive force," Caldwell said. "I won the ball clearly and felt he came into me. It always looks worse than what it was. I go, I see the ball and try and win it. I did win it and I felt it was very unfortunate and extremely disappointed to have let the team down and be sent off."
Still, Toronto FC persevered.
Defoe set the game-tying goal in motion by charging directly down the guts of the field after a midfield turnover by Sporting KC.
Splitting three defenders, Defoe slipped a ball forward into the box for Moore, who wheeled around for a one-time left-footed drive that beat Sporting KC goalkeeper Eric Kronberg.
Toronto FC went down a goal again in the 84th minute when Dwyer scored his MLS-leading 10th goal on a penalty kick.
Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry knocked Sporting KC right back Igor Juliao to the ground in the box, conceding his fourth penalty kick of the season.
Goalkeeper Joe Bendik — who finished with three saves, including a critical pair on second-half rockets by Sporting KC midfielder Paulo Nagamura — guessed correctly and dove right, but Dwyer's drive was too strong.
Toronto FC wasn't finished, however.
"We never gave up, even when we got the penalty," said Defoe, who notched his first MLS assist on Moore's goal. "We kept our heads. It's a difficult place to come. They are a good team. They pass the ball, they keep the ball, have good movement and are really athletic. I think tonight was all about character.
"On a different day, maybe we would have gotten a little luck and won it at the end. But I think to show character and to come back was special. There are a lot of positives we can take out of the game tonight."