The Toronto FC II went into South Carolina to take on the Charleston Battery to kick off the clubs first ever match and the 2015 USL Season. The historic match was made available on YouTube and peaked just shy of a thousand viewers at any given time. Attendance at Blackbaud Stadium looked sparse at best, slowly increasing as the game went on.
The long anticipated starting lineup for the club looked quite strong for the visiting side.
4-4-2 Formation – Bono; Charpie, Simonin, Fabrizi, Morgan; Aparicio, Mannella, Chapman, Kaye; Babouli, Hamilton
Substitutes – Mirabelli (62’), Uccello (76’), Bouchard (87’), Roberts, Stakic, Godinho, Serjeant
As anticipated TFCII’s offense was explosive and came out like gang-busters, with Jordan Hamilton forever writing himself into Toronto FC II lore by scoring the team’s first goal in 8th minute. The team quickly struck again in the 16th minute with a goal by, Toronto FC Academy graduate, Molham Babouli. The overall feeling with the two goals was that it would be a rout, an assault and battery if you will. The speed and pace of the game was fast from end to end. One thing that was quickly evident was that there was a lack of leadership and control in the midfield. Just before the half was over, Charleston scored in the 38th minute to make it 2-1 and changing the direction of the match.
The second half saw TFCII on their heels, scrambling, and finding it difficult to control the match. Charleston kept pressing and with the help of some poor defensive shape by TFCII, Shaun Ferguson of the Battery scored an equalizer in the 56th minute. TFCII made a few attempts to regain control of the match and steal a goal to put them back on top but it was not meant to be. In injury time, TFCII gave up a corner kick that Alex Bono could not contain and Charleston got their winner from Centre Back Taylor Mueller. Overall Alex Bono made a few nice saves but did not have control of the match. He appeared to be nervous and made some unprofessional mistakes including back-passes and literally dropping the ball.
The 3-2 loss is disappointing, especially after being up two goals just sixteen minutes into the match. Toronto FC supporters will have no trouble unfairly comparing the loss to performances by the first team over their previous eight seasons. To put everything in perspective, this is a learning experience for these youngsters. If there is any good to come from the result it is that Jason Bent will be able to take this loss and coach his team on ways to improve on their mistakes. The goal for the USL side is to develop the talent that is clearly within this group. To keep this at the forefront of TFCII supporters’ minds is key to not adding unnecessary pressure and encouraging positive growth forward.
Toronto FC II’s next match is next Saturday against their USL rivals in FC Montreal at 12:30pm. Supporters from Toronto are expected to make the trip along the 401 east to Montreal. It will be FC Montreal’s inaugural match and both teams will be desperately wanting to win, development goals aside.