Cincinnati knocks Toronto FC down 2-1 for first-ever win at BMO Field

TORONTO — One step forward, two back for Toronto FC. Toronto dug a hole with some shoddy defense on Saturday before mounting a late attack that fell short in a 2-1 loss to injury-ridden FC Cincinnati.

TORONTO — One step forward, two back for Toronto FC.

Toronto dug a hole with some shoddy defense on Saturday before mounting a late attack that fell short in a 2-1 loss to injury-ridden FC Cincinnati.

Ian Murphy and Luciano Acosta scored for Cincinnati in front of an announced crowd of 23,591 on a sunny 12 degree Celsius afternoon on the lakeshore. Jesus Jimenez scored his seventh of the season for TFC, whose three-game home win streak was broken.

Cincinnati (3-5-1) bowed but didn’t break in five minutes of frenetic stoppage time as Toronto (3-4-2) pulled hard for the tying run. The teams meet again Wednesday at “Star Wars Night” at Cincinnati’s TQL Stadium.

The win was the first in three career visits to BMO Field by Cincinnati, which has won just 17 games in its four MLS seasons — three of which were against Toronto.

Saturday’s game was not exactly beautiful. Cincinnati only had two shots on target (against three from Toronto), but took advantage of what TFC gave it.

When asked if his side had made it difficult for themselves, Toronto coach Bob Bradley replied: “We certainly did.”

“The pace was too slow, which played into Cincinnati’s game plan. We didn’t move the ball fast enough, didn’t move forward fast enough.”

“Those are two bad goals to give up today,” he added. “(We had) a nudge late in the game. It’s a little crazy how we’re trying to score the next goal. So yeah, there’s a lot of things to look at.”

Toronto has now lost two straights after an unbeaten run of four games (3-0-1).

“As a team I still feel we need to be more consistent,” said Bradley. “So finding the right way to get our best guys to play at their best level is one of the most important aspects of building a good team.

“I think we’ve had moments this year where that went in the right direction, but I still think that overall that’s our biggest challenge.”

While the team has shown attacking flair, it has often been an adventure in defense.

Toronto lost 5-4 to New York City in a wild game at Citi Field in which TFC took the lead 2-0 and conceded the next five goals. TFC has not yet kept a clean sheet this season. The last league elimination was 18 games ago – a 0-0 draw in Colorado last September.

Cincinnati had been winless in its previous four league games (0-3-1), but two of those losses — against CF Montreal and Los Angeles FC — were by one goal, beating the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-0 in the US Open Cup. game during that run.

Cincinnati came into the game with just three wins in its previous 33 league games (3-22-8) dating back to July 2021. One of those wins was a 2-0 decision over Toronto last September.

Murphy, a starting defender, gave the visitors the lead in the 44th minute. The game started when Mexican centre-back Carlos Salcedo’s attempted pass to goalkeeper Alex Bono squibted out of play. The ensuing corner went deep to Cincinnati’s Junior Moreno, who drove him back into the penalty area.

Former TFC defender Nick Hagglund stood tall and headed the ball to an unmarked Murphy, who shot the ball chest down and past Bono for his first MLS goal of his career.

It was more of a testament to TFC’s difficulty defending set pieces this season.

Acosta doubled their lead in the 52nd minute when Toronto failed to defend a throw-in under their own power. As Dominique Badji occupied several Toronto defenders, the ball landed at the feet of an unmarked Acosta whose shot struck Bono into the corner.

Jimenez narrowed the lead to 2-1 in the 65th minute as Toronto pushed through. After Cincinnati failed to clear the ball, Michael Bradley’s cross found defender Shane O’Neill, who headed the ball over to Jimenez. The Spanish striker, who had been a bit player earlier in the match, acrobatically twisted his body to get a foot to the ball.

Toronto defeated Cincinnati 11-6 (3-2 in shots on goal) for 65.6 percent possession.

“I was very happy, up until their goal, with how we played and managed the moments of the game to have some quality for the future, to have some confidence in playing with the ball on the ground,” he said. Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan. “And defensively, I thought we did pretty well against a team that knows how to move the ball well, and has some quality central to be able to cause some problems.”

Toronto forward Ayo Akinola came off the bench in the 74th minute, his first appearance since injuring his knee last July when he played for Canada in the Gold Cup.

Obinna Nwobodo, the new Cincinnati player, made his MLS debut from the bench in the 67th minute. The Nigerian midfielder came over from Turkey’s Goztepe SK this week.

Toronto lost defender Chris Mavinga in the 29th minute, with the French-born Congolese international favoring one leg. That caused a change in formation, to a back four of a three-man backline.

Before kick-off, Toronto honored midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who made his 300th appearance for the club in all competitions last week.

Cincinnati was without the injured Ray Gaddis, Ronald Matarrita, Tyler Blackett, Allan Cruz, Alec Kann and Yuya Kubo. Top scorer Brandon Vazquez came off the bench in the 67th minute on his return from injury.

In Kann’s absence, rookie Roman Celentano made his second MLS start in goal.

Toronto missed Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty, Noble Okello and Deandre Kerr.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 30, 2022.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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