To their credit, the Reds, dressed in white, did not wave the white flag after coming down 2-0 to the Columbus Crew in the first half on Wednesday night.
Freshman striker Jesus Jimenez scored early in the second half to bring Toronto FC in one, but despite launching attack after attack in the second half, TFC was unable to find the equalizing goal, leaving the crew out of BMO Field with a 2-1 victory.
The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Reds, who deserved better on the evening. TFC had a significant advantage in possession (64%-36%) firing 19 shots out of 10 through Columbus. Toronto also posted seven shots on target to three by the crew.
TFC star midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo was brilliant at finding team-mates who were open in attacking areas, but the lack of finishing eventually caused the Reds to invade. Pozuelo did get Jimenez’s goal though and he almost tied the game in the 86th minute as he danced the ball into the Columbus box and the ball with the right just past the far goalpost.
The story of the game early on was the play of Toronto teen Jacen Russell-Rowe. A former TFC Academy player, Russell-Rowe, 19, made his first MLS start for Columbus on Wednesday, providing assists on the Crew’s goals.
The Toronto native played for TFC II in 2019 before moving to college ball for two years with the Maryland Terrapins. He then signed with Columbus Crew II in March of this year. In 11 games in Next Pro League action this season, Russell-Rowe scored 11 goals for the Young Crew. He picked up a yellow card in the 66th minute against the Reds and was substituted out of the game.
Sean Zawadzki and Darlington Nagbe scored the goals for the Crew, who benefited from some impressive counter-attacks in the first half.
The Reds pushed hard for the equalizer in the closing minutes of the game when Columbus went into a defensive grenade.
Midfielders Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio, who were substituted into the game in the second half, were also right in front of Toronto. Center back Chris Mavinga made some great defensive plays for the Reds.