Toronto FC heads into international break with questions on and off field
Mason Toye header stands as winner in Montreal shutout victory over Fire
The Columbus Crew held on to dispatch Toronto FC 2-1 Saturday, sending TFC into the international break with plenty of troubling questions on and off the field.
Toronto is 1-4-2 in MLS play and has won just two of 11 matches (2-6-3) in all competitions this season. TFC, which finished second overall in the 2020 league standings at 13-5-5, started the day in 25th spot.
There is a question-mark over the future of star striker Jozy Altidore, who is on the outs with the club. And the club learned late this week that Venezuelan international winger Yeferson Soteldo, another of its designated players, will be out four-to-six weeks with a hamstring injury.
Toronto GM Ali Curtis says the club will hold talks with the disgruntled Altidore over the international break to determine his future. TFC doesn't play again until June 19.
The good news for Toronto on the day was that Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, the league's reigning MVP, came on in the 55th minute for his first action of the season after a thigh injury.
Pozuelo was a breath of fresh air, bringing the stagnant TFC attack to life when he touched the ball.
WATCH | Crew notch 2-1 win over Toronto FC:
Luis Diaz and Gyasi Zardes scored for defending champion Columbus (3-2-2). The score could have been more lopsided had it not been for some fine saves by Toronto 'keeper Alex Bono.
Ayo Akinola scored for Toronto, which had downed Columbus 2-0 in their previous meeting May 12 at Orlando.
Toronto was distinctly second-best in the first 45 minutes, but put on a far better show in the second half. Captain Michael Bradley had a chance to tie it in the 96th minute but Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room made a diving save.
Columbus went ahead in the 12th minute on what was essentially a Diaz breakaway after a Toronto corner at the other end. Bradley's delivery hit a foot in the penalty box and the ball went to Pedro Santos at the edge of the box.
He sent it forward to an onrushing Diaz who — with no Toronto defender hanging back — raced the length of the field untouched before tucking the ball past Bono.
Akinola cuts lead
Toronto was carved open again in the 21st minute on another rapid-fire counter-attack. Santos was the provider again, sending in a marvellous cross that split the two Toronto centre backs and allowed Zardes to acrobatically get a foot to the ball and deflect it past Bono.
It marked Zardes' 50th goal in all competitions for Columbus.
The goal started on a giveaway by Jacob Shaffelburg off a TFC throw-in deep in the Columbus end. Four passes later the ball was in the Toronto goal.
The goal survived video review. Zardes had had another goal called back for offside minutes earlier.
Toronto had more success after coach Chris Armas moved Richie Laryea further up the field from his original fullback role.
Akinola cut the lead to 2-1 in the 52nd minute, outmuscling two defenders to get to a rebound given up by Room on Laryea's shot. It was the first goal of the season for Akinola, who started in place of Altidore.
Bono made a fine save to stop a Josh Williams header off an 80th-minute corner and then got his hands to a swerving Lucas Zelarayan shot in the 86th.
Armas made four changes to his starting 11 from last time out in Orlando, replacing the injured Soteldo, Omar Gonzalez and Jonathan Osorio with Eriq Zavaleta, Nick DeLeon and Shaffelburg.
Montreal down Fire
Mason Toye's header off a centre that found the far left corner of the net was enough to carry Montreal past the hometown Chicago Fire 1-0 on Saturday.
Toye went untouched between Chicago's two centre backs and placed a pass from Zorhan Bassong past diving keeper Bobby Shuttleworth towards the far post at the 87th minute.
After six minutes of added time, the Fire (1-5-1) thought they'd tied the match when Wyatt Omsberg headed it in before the goal was overturned due to offside after a video review.
WATCH | Montreal blanks Fury to even record at 3-3-2:
With files from the Associated Press