Rocket Robin Report: Toronto FC II vs FC Cincinnati

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 Saturday October 14, 2017 USL game between Toronto FC II and FC Cincinnati played at The Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan at 7:30pm.

9 min…TFC Tsubasa Endoh GOAL…TFC Luca Uccello runs on left to top left edge of FCC box and he crosses ball to center where charging TFC Ben Spencer heads 8 yarder up middle low towards right post with sprawling goalie Mitch Hildebrandt getting shins to it and deflecting it away. Endoh charges forward and shoots 10 yard roller while in line with right post into left corner of net.

30 min…TFC Tsubasa Endoh GOAL…TFC Luca Uccello on right taps ball to sideline for TFC Dante Campbell who takes high cross from 30 yards on right. TFC Ben Spencer on left side of box heads ball from 8 yard line across box to Endoh who blasts low 10 yard shot that hits sliding defender at 6 yards and deflects over him and sliding goalie and into right side of net.

40 min…FCC Danni Konnig GOAL…FCC Kenney Walker takes freekick chip from left edge of box near endline and leaping Konnig at 6 yards heads ball forward in crowd of players and over flying goalie Mark Pais’s outstretched arms just under bar.

49 min…FCC Kenney Walker GOAL…Walker pass attempt from 30 yards in middle hits TFC player. FCC Tyler Polak recovers ball at 25 yards and taps to Walker who one-touches low shot forward around TFC Luca Uccello and into right side of net just between post and diving goalie.

53 min…TFC Shaan Hundal GOAL…TFC Mitch Taintor taps ball from 65 yards back to TFC Brandon Onkony who chips pass from 70 yards forward that finds Hundal behind two defenders on one bounce at 25 yards and he chips 22 yarder from just outside box on right over goalie who was just inside box and ball one-bounces into empty net.

66 min…FCC Djiby Fall GOAL…FCC goalie picks up ball after TFC Ben Spencer faceplants in box and rolls ball forward. An FCC player at FCC 20 yards sends low pass forward for charging FCC Jimmy McLaughlin near center line. He charges forward to edge of TFC box and runs to left endline with TFC Rocco Romeo keeping him outside of clear shot. McLaughlin slides to send cross near end line into middle of 6 yard box and charging FCC Djiby Fall steps in front of TFC Mitchell Taintor to tip in 5 yarder up middle into center of net with goalie frozen in middle.

85 min…FCC Justin Hoyte GOAL…Hoyte at 30 yard line on right sideline sends centering pass to FCC Kenney Walker closer to middle. He steps forward and chips ball into box where charging Hoyte gets behind TFC Mitchell Taintor who heads ball backwards as he doesn’t jump high enough at 12 yards. The ball lands at 8 yards and Hoyte on bounce shoots 4 yarder while in line with right post into left corner of net.

Final Score:…Toronto FC II…3…FC Cincinnati…4…

Attendance was announced as 1,119. It had started to rain hard before game time and continued all night. I’ll admit there were more fans than last the last game which was a surprise for such a miserable night but nowhere near those numbers actually turned up. There were more than thirty traveling fans—more than just parents and family of team members. They were chanting the whole game up against the pre-teen Little Ultras who had been absent the last two home games. There was even a fog that drifted in for the start of the game.

I was in a tough spot as when I say ‘notebook’ that doesn’t  mean a computer but pen and paper. I couldn’t get my umbrella to wedge between the fencing of the stands for protection so well before game time I asked to squeeze into what I call the treehouse/pressbox. Permission eventually granted but it was somewhat an obstructed view. My goal descriptions are embellished by rewatching them on YouTube. Interesting hearing the PA staff also skeptical about the number of fans and earlier reading through the stadium rules about forbidden behaviour and objects in the stands “…large bags and umbrellas…” and them mumble away from the microphone “except for tonight”. Everyone had a raincoat or umbrella.

There were some questions before the game which was the last weekend of the regular season of whether TFC II would use their young players or drop some TFC players down that wouldn’t play in the MLS game tomorrow against Montreal. It might be important to keep them tuned up for the MLS playoffs. Would they give their MLS regulars a rest that were away at World Cup qualifying which meant Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore for the USA and Armando Cooper for Panama. Nicolas Hasler was NOT away playing with Liechtenstein.

In a mid-week game, because Tampa Bay beat Orlando City B, Cincinnati clinched a playoff spot without playing. Although tonight they could move up a spot or two I wasn’t sure if they would rest players.

Man of the Match (who is always a TFC II player) was Tsubasa Endoh who with the first two goals of the game was the obvious choice. Ashtone Morgan and Ben Spencer were the other MLS roster players starting tonight’s game. Defender Morgan was injured earlier this year but has had a hard time finding playing time at the MLS or USL level. His playing tonight solved the push-pull between TFC Academy grad young Julian Dunn-Johnson and MLS high draft choice Brandon Aubrey for the starting spot. Neither player was even on the bench. Dunn-Johnson’s positional doppelganger Nobel Okello was an unused sub.

Neither of the goalies were spectacular in this game but weather conditions played a big factor I think. Mitch Hildebrandt had saved three of four spot kicks after extra time in a Round of 16 US Open Cup game against MLS Chicago Fire. Cincinnati were eventually knocked out in the semi-finals. He didn’t look good at all being caught out on Hundal’s goal. I was only surprised that Mark Pais started instead of Angelo Cavalluzzo because Pais allowed four goals last week against Bethlehem.

Referee Fab Stasolla gave out four Yellow cards (three to TFC but two of them were after the 90 minute mark) in a game that’s only danger was slide tackles. Roughest part of the game was when FCC Harrison Delbridge and the TFC goalie got into a pushing match after Delbridge bent over to grab the ball after their goal at 40 minutes to hurry up and get the game restarted.

FCC almost didn’t need the end of game heroics as one minute after that goal at 40 minutes FCC Djiby Fall jumped for a cross sent in from the left and his low shot from 18 yards hit the right post and FCC Danny Konig standing all alone at 8 yards was called offside. 47 minutes had FCC Corben Bone at 30 yards in the middle roll the ball forward and right for Konig who received it at 20 yards, turned, and fired between defenders at 18 yards and hit the bar. The ball deflected back and downward and hit the back of the flying goalie and deflected back and hit the bottom of the right post from 4 yards and then TFC Mitch Taintor cleared over his own end line. The next minute had Konig tapped a pass and blasted a low 15 yarder between players from the left side of the box and the goalie blocked but couldn’t hold on and a defender cleared.

I was surprised that TFC only made one sub in the game so no players were rewarded for participating. I’d expect it was because the game was undecided until almost the end.

FCC dominated possession especially in the second half with TFC counterattacks their only chances. League stats post FCC leading 8 to 1 in cornerkicks.

The TFC lineup again made me happy with six Canadian starters and six of seven players on the bench being Canadians.

This was ‘fan appreciation day’ although I don’t recall seeing the ice cream truck here tonight nor any burger tent set up. A popcorn wagon was brought to the game to give the fans free popcorn but I don’t know how many takers would want popcorn coated with rainwater with their butter. Halftime had the finals of the KIA car. One finalist of the six chosen throughout the season was allowed to draw out a key which might start the car electronically from the 50 yards away. The third contestant succeeded which ended the building suspense.

There was not much of a ‘meet and greet’ promised by the team before the game. The rain had fans just as anxious to leave as soon as they could. Players came over to the fence to chat with fans and the end gate was opened so fans could come out onto the field but there were few takers. Many of the players used that gate as an exit back to the locker room.

Cincinnati’s huge USL crowds of 20K have sent them up the list of potential MLS expansion teams. Thinking ahead I thought some potential expansion draft that TFC who lost oft injured defender Mark Bloom of home state Georgia to Atlanta United, would lose oft injured defender Nick Hagglund to his hometown Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is one of the independent USL teams—not in any kind of arrangement with an MLS team. They have some former MLS players on their roster including TFC forward Andrew Wiedeman which the PA guy mispronounced which proves he’s newer than 2014.

Cincinnati ends the season at 12 wins, 10 losses, 10 ties for 46 points. Their plus/minus is -2. They climb to sixth place in the East (not knowing all the weekend results yet). Eight teams in each conference make the playoffs but finishing fifth to eighth is a handicapped since each round is only one game and hosted by the higher ranked team so Cincinnati is almost guaranteed to play all their games on the road.

The result ends the season for Toronto FC II. Their record falls to 6 wins, 19 losses, and 7 ties for 25 points. They have a goals plus/minus of -27. 27 goals for, 54 against. They finish fifteenth (last) in the Eastern Conference. Last year (in a 30 game season) their record was 7 wins, 18 losses, 5 ties for 26 points. They were eleventh out of fourteen teams last season.

The League1 Ontario championship final was originally to be held here tonight when it was scheduled back in the spring but was bumped by TFC II having preference with the Ontario Soccer Centre according to L1O chair Dino Rossi. After some uncertainty they have rescheduled to play here on Friday the 20th . The rain was fitting destiny for L1O assuming the weather will be better. Ironic that this was the last game TFC II will play at this location as next season they will groundshare at BMO Field and Lamport Stadium in downtown Toronto.

I think TFC II are glad to leave the OSC facility despite the polite thank you tweets. Fans won’t miss the aluminum bench seating (particularly in cold weather or rainy weather like tonight) and the port a potties. The ownership will be glad to control concession revenue rather than lose it to indie-owned mobile food trucks. The new locations will allow liquor sales so will attract a more hard core support replacing the family entertainment atmosphere of games the last few years.

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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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