Home MLS Toronto FC Emory, Nelsen both wear goat horns as TFC loses another one late

Emory, Nelsen both wear goat horns as TFC loses another one late


Toronto FC didn’t leave it as late as it usually does.

TFC supporters are used to seeing the Reds give up match-tying or match-losing goals in the 89th minute on. On Saturday, Edson Buddle’s dagger through the TFC heart came in the 86th.

Buddle’s goal gave the Rapids a 1-0 win in the mile-high conditions in the Denver suburbs. And Clint Irwin, who two years ago was stopping shots for Capital City FC in the Canadian Soccer League, continued his impressive run in the Rapids’ goal with a clean sheet.

The goal came like so many other late goals conceded by TFC; through a glaring error. This time, it was defender Logan Emory, who absolutely whiffed on what should have been a fairly elementary clearance of a speculative ball played into the Reds’ penalty area. Instead of heading out of trouble, the ball sat invitingly for Buddle to smash home from close range.

It was an absolute gift.

But, while Emory made the mistake, his coach was the one who put his team in jeopardy. Call it a rookie mistake, but coach Ryan Nelsen has to put his hand up, as well.

The goal came as Designated Player Matias Laba, making his TFC debut, was on one knee. Laba had been flagging for quite a stretch — at least 10 minutes — before he took the knee. But Nelsen didn’t take off a player who was making his league debut at altitude. And, Colorado, quite rightly, weren’t going to play the ball out because an opposition player was clearly dealing with fatigue. There’s a line between sportsmanship and stupid, after all.

The Rapids had a momentary man advantage — a man advantage created by Nelsen’s failure to recognize that Laba had to come off. By the time Laba finally stumbled to the sidelines, the Rapids were celebrating the killer goal.

Maybe Nelsen was simply so enthralled by the excellent work Laba did through most of the game that he simply thought a half-speed Laba was better than bringing in a sub.

“I thought he was superb,” Nelsen said of Laba after the match. “To be in that type of effort was important for him, and he and Jeremy (Hall) in the middle were brilliant. They controlled the park very well, and I thought Luis Silva was very good tonight.”

Robert Earnshaw had a great chance to give TFC the lead in the 83rd, but his shot went wide after he and teammate Luis Silva had broken into the Rapids’ half on a two-on-one break.

TFC also had several other very good chances. Irwin, who actually scored a goal for Capital City FC in 2011, made two fantastic saves — in the first half on Earnshaw, then a second-half chance from Silva that was tipped over the bar.

Nick LaBrocca had the best chance for the Rapids before the goal, but his early point-blank shot was stopped by Joe Bendik.

TFC has given up a late goal in each of its last four MLS matches. Some might want to claim that this team is cursed… and they’re right. Continual bad judgement and elementary errors that are the stuff of Atom soccer.

And tonight, the coach didn’t help.

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One Comment

  1. No

    May 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    It wasn’t 10 minutes. 2, 3 tops.

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