Rocket Robin Report: Toronto FC II vs Charlotte Independence

Editor’s Note: As Robin’s articles are originally published elsewhere and merely reprinted here, they are presented unedited. They are merely reformatted to improve the way they display on our site. NSXI takes no ownership or responsibility for the content, spelling, grammar or the opinions expressed below.

Result and details of the Wednesday August 9, 2017 USL game between Toronto FC II and Charlotte Independence played at BMO Field in Toronto at 8:00pm.

48 min…TFC Jordan Hamilton GOAL…TFC Aidan Daniels intercepts pass at 35 yards and runs up right even with post to 18 yards and has shot blocked. He then rolls ball to middle for TFC Tsubasa Endoh who dribbles forward a few steps to defender and taps to left for Hamilton who runs to top left of 6 yard box and rolls ball past another defender and sliding goalie into right corner of net.

TFC II Jordan Hamilton gets ready to kick off the second half. Photo by Robin Glover.
TFC II Jordan Hamilton gets ready to kick off the second half. Photo by Robin Glover.

61 min…Charlotte (TFC own goal) GOAL…CI Joel Johnson rushes up right to end line and low 22 yard cross just before TFC Ashton Morgan slide can deflect it behind line has CI David Estrada and TFC Mitchell Taintor with legs up lunge for it at 8 yards along line and ball bounces at 2 yards and TFC goalie Mark Pais on right post gets hand to but steers it into own net. [the goal was announced as scored by Joel Johnson over the PA but USL records changed it to an own goal.]

64 min…Charlotte RED card…Donald Smith earns it as he and TFC Jordan McCrary slide from opposite directions for a loose ball at TFC 35 yard line and Smith studs catch chin of McCrary injuring him. McCrary had got foot to ball first to clear.

78 min…Charlotte Jaime Siaj GOAL…TFC Jordan Hamilton is stripped of ball from behind by CI Yann Elva in middle on edge of CI box. CI Henry Kalungi is given short pass and he dribbles upfield on left and sends pass forward from CI 50 yard line to Siaj running up sideline to get ball at TFC 30 yard line. He dribbles forward and ahead of TFC Julian Dunn-Johnson and cuts towards goal and shoots low 10 yarder from left into right corner of net past sliding goalie on left edge of 6 yard box.

91 min…TFC Jordan Hamilton GOAL…Hamilton at 35 yards in middle rolls pass to TFC Ashtone Morgan on left sideline past slide of CI David Estrada. Morgan at 25 yard line runs forward to 15 yard line then rolls ball back to TFC Liam Fraser and his cross from 35 yards on left finds Hamilton who chests ball down at 12 yards on right and steps to center to get shot around CI Austin Yearwood and curl it into left corner of net.

Final Score:…Toronto FC II…..2……Charlotte Independence….2…

Attendance started at 1000 which was about half the crowd that had watched the TFC first team Open Practice that ended at 7:10pm. (more on that at the bottom of this report). By halftime that had dropped to 750 and down to less than 500 after Charlotte took the lead. Fans were squeezed into the 100 sections of the East stands except for a small supporters group who were allowed to move to the south endzone. About 200 Army cadets seated together in the main stands started their own cheers at different times of the game.

Referee David Barrie who switched places after the warm up from fourth official to replace Marie-Soleil Beaudoin. He gave out three Yellow cards late in the game (two to Charlotte for time-wasting) and the one straight Red.

Two changes to the TFC lineup that surprised me because of their huge upset win over the then Eastern Conference leaders Charleston Battery were that Mark Pais was given the start in goal after Angelo Cavalluzo had registered a shutout in that game. Also the only goal scorer in that game, Shaan Hundal started on the bench in favour of Ben Spencer but was subbed in at 32 minutes after Spencer and CI Bilal Duckett crashed heads jumping for a ball in the CI box six minutes earlier.

The Independence had an unusual lineup in that their two leading scorers (with 12 goals each) did not start. Enzo Martinez was suspended for two Yellow cards on the weekend—the second of which was from what I’ve heard was pulling off his shirt celebrating his hat trick. (He was named USL Player of the Week for that performance). George Herrara was the other but he did sub in at 56 minutes. [Today, Thursday he was just awarded USL Player of the Month for July].

Jordan Hamilton scored both goals for TFC II. I don’t know if this is enough to get him back onto the MLS roster but if the coaches hung around after the practice they could see for themselves. Tsubasa Endoh and Ashtone Morgan are also players who shuffle back and forth between the two teams. They also played well tonight. Seventeen year old Julian Dunn-Johnson continues to hang on to his starting position in defence over TFC draft pick NCAA grad Brandon Aubrey. 86 minutes had Dunn-Johnson make a sliding tackle just outside the box on Yann Ekra who had gotten the ball at 45 yards and bashed up the middle and was winding up for a shot and possible insurance goal. None of the players in this game was part of the TFC Open Practice held a few hours earlier.

TFC II had beaten the first place team on Saturday night in their victory over Charleston Battery (Jordan Hamilton was not in their lineup that night) and now have a result over the new leaders Charlotte who took over that same night.

The tie improves TFC II’s record to 4 wins, 12 losses, 6 ties for 18 points and fourteenth place in the fifteen team Eastern Conference. It is only the second game they have scored at least two goals this season. A tie is not really good enough at this stage of the season to climb into eighth place for the last playoff spot. has their weighted average chances of making the playoffs down to 0.2%.

The tie improves Charlotte’s record to 11 wins, 3 losses, 7 ties for 40 points and keeps them in first place in the East. They extend their unbeaten streak to twelve games but would really have loved to stretch their lead further in first place after taking over last weekend for the first time this season.

Charlotte Independence is a rather newly formed team (2014) and took the place of Charlotte Eagles who dropped to the PDL because of them. Eagles just won the PDL Championship a few weeks ago in the playoff final over Thunder Bay. They are not related. Two great teams! Woooh! I believe the wrestlers Ric Flair and his daughter are also from that city.

The Toronto FC Open practice:

This was an event scheduled on a few weeks notice with invitations sent out for TFC Season Ticket Holders to come and watch. I expect this has replaced the annual BBQ held on a summer weekend at the KIA Training Ground. That event has proven so popular that it was available by lottery last year and I was not chosen to go. BBQs were fun but it wasn’t a time to meet the players as the MLS team was usually out of town on that weekend. Sometimes injured players were signing autographs. Yesterday’s event also has probably replaced the Open practice that was held for schoolkids as I haven’t hear of this year.  Everything today was General Admission but only the 100 levels on the East side were opened up. I sat in my usual SSH seat.

There was really nothing very interesting for me to watch. I always try to get to the games before the gates open so I get to see the players warm up for half hour before the match. There were a few Q&A sessions—with microphones being passed around and a text address to ask questions. They were all softballs about the main team so there was no news discovered. The only question that interested me was about the heart monitors/GPS system bibs that the players wear. It turns out ALL their players wear them—some like to wear it over their t-shirts and some under—I had believed only the over the t-shirt wearers were participants. Fans from the supporter groups chanted between breaks in the Q&A periods.

Recovering midfielder Steven Beitashour was practicing some running drills away from the main practice and drew cheers when he ran by our sideline later on.

They held a 20 minute 9 on 9 scrimmage game with goals at the 25 yard lines and narrowed the field with pylons 7 yards inward between first team players.

After practice Tosaint Ricketts and Jay Chapman were part of another Q&A with just more softballs and nothing about the national team.

The schedule for me was going to be Open practice, dinner, and TFC II game. It turned out since I wandered in through my usual gate which was unguarded when I got there, I didn’t get a voucher for food. When I saw the vouchers that others had I didn’t want to lose my spot so didn’t leave to come in through the proper gate. I didn’t want to buy anything…$6.00 for a slice of pizza…that makes a good story about TFC’s president Bill Manning comparing the Toronto market with a pizza restaurant and only having enough room for one in the city when he was initially questioned about the upstart Canadian Premier League earlier this year.

Fans were encouraged to stay in their seats for the TFC II game for free which would start within an hour later. I brought my TFC II ticket with me anyway so it was no freebie for me.

It was nice to get to get out of there and onto a half empty streetcar. Also the Blue Jays baseball game was still going on so I was able to get out of Union Station on the subway without having to fight their fans for a seat.

TFC II’s next game is Sunday against Bethlehem Steel to start a three game road trip. Their next home game is Wednesday August 30 against Saint Louis at their more familiar home Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan.

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Robin Glover

Robin Glover

Robin has been writing about soccer in the Toronto area for message boards and his own website since the early 1990s in the days of 2400 baud modems to USENET sites. In the 2014 season he attended 76 games in various leagues that played in the GTA area. Follow Robin on Twitter and on his website

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