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Woodbridge and TFC III fought to a spirited 0-0 draw in League1 Ontario action Sunday night, despite great chances for both teams and a potential impact on title races in both conferences. With the draw, Woodbridge sits five points up on Vaughan for first in the east, while TFC III remains ten points behind Sigma for first in the west with two games in hand.
The crowd was – without a doubt – the largest I’d ever seen at a regular season League1 Ontario game. The All-Star Game earlier this month was announced at over 900 spectators, and similar crowds can be seen at other special events like cup finals, but the crowd on hand tonight blew away the attendance in the dozens that I’m used to seeing at these games. Maybe I just need to go to more Woodbridge games? I’d estimate that the crowd easily exceeded 300 people, and I won’t be surprised if the total was north of 400 – there wasn’t a lot of room left on the bleachers with quite a number standings near the entrance, and the (rather sizable) parking lot was almost full when I arrived 15 minutes before kickoff.
Both teams played a fast, attacking game, and despite the scoreline, it was one of the most action-packed League1 games I’ve ever attended. Neither team held the ball in the midfield for long periods of time, opting instead to go forward with what they had, and it made for a number of exciting rushes up-field. TFC had the bulk of the possession for the opening fifteen minutes and made great use of some long runs down the wings, especially by Cyrus Rollocks on the left side. After the first few crosses he generated, Woodbridge’s Francesco Sinopoli moved into a closer man-to-man coverage against the TFC attacker, and that seemed to limit how often he was able to generate chances for the rest of the match.
The best chance of the game came early on in the match. Following an Emmanuel Isaac shot from the left wing which was punched away by TFC’s keeper, Gianluca Catalano, the ball returned in front to the foot of Woodbridge’s Dylan Carreiro only eight yards out from the net. What looked like a sure goal past the diving Catalano was stopped by a goal-line save courtesy of Nikola Dias, whose name was chanted by the TFC crowd in attendance as the play went the other way. Cyrus Rollocks managed to make a chance on the break as the play went the other way, but the ball got tied up in the feet of the Woodbridge defenders and the ball was run out of bounds beyond the far goal line.
Two more great chances couldn’t break the tie before halftime. Thirty minutes in, TFC’s Riley Ferrazzo managed to pull off a strong chip shot from the right wing about twenty yards out; Woodbridge’s Quillan Roberts made a great dive and the ball ricocheted off the crossbar – I’m not sure if Roberts managed to get a glove on the ball, but he certainly didn’t leave a lot of room in the top corner. Seconds before the halftime whistle, Woodbridge’s Emmanuel Isaac managed to find some space alone with a loose ball about twelve yards out from the net, but his effort just sailed over the top-right corner to keep the score tied at zero after 45.
Not as many chances in the second half, though most of the play took place down in the TFC end. Play turned a little bit chippy in the middle of the second half, where a ten-minute period of successive foul calls against Woodbridge kept play in their end and led to some frustrations (and a few yellows), but things settled down after that. I was very impressed with the refereeing in this match – most calls seemed accurate and arguing seemed to be shut down strongly and quickly. My sole complaint would be that the whistle seemed to disappear whenever play was in the penalty area; there were several holds and tackles within the TFC eighteen which felt like they should have earned a spot kick for Woodbridge, though in the referee’s defense any of those calls (while deserved, in my opinion) weren’t necessarily clear-cut.
On of the best chances of the second half came from Woodbridge’s Dylan Carreiro, who took advantage of a quick midfield free kick to make a run in from the right side – his off-angle shot from about eight yards out would beat the keeper but hit the crossbar. TFC’s Rollocks would have a great early chance as he out-ran Sinopoli on a long break, but his shot would end just over the net. Most of the chances in this half would favour Woodbridge, especially as they pushed for a winning goal in the last fifteen minutes, but TFC was dangerous down the wings on the counter-attack – even moreso as the half wore on and Woodbridge’s defenders started to tire out. Two substitutes really stood out for me – TFC’s Ethan Beckford seemed to be running circles around the Woodbridge back line towards the end of the game, creating a few chances on quick runs in from the wing – while Woodbridge’s Michael Krzeminski made a number of good runs in from the right wing to beat the TFC defenders and deliver a few sharp crosses and shots on net. Krzeminski had a good late-game chance as he managed to make a run past a downed TFC defender, but got tangled up with Catalano and ran it out wide.
The match ended in a 0-0 draw – a result that neither team will probably be happy with. Woodbridge will probably be disappointed that they couldn’t manage a single goal out of this effort – between the chances they had on net and probably deserving at least one penalty call at some point, they deserved to show up on the scoresheet. TFC had a number of dangerous chances for their part, and while Woodbridge probably deserved to win, a TFC goal against the run of play to claim three points wouldn’t have been out of the question. TFC was the more consistent of the teams for me; what they did was good, but they did less of it. Woodbridge was hampered on a number of runs forward where their attackers would find themselves without any support, and at least half a dozen plays to their wingers in the first half were called back as offside. Some passes would be off-target or failed to lead their players properly, but this became less noticeable after the first twenty minutes or so. Woodbridge’s late-game pressure definitely kept TFC on their back foot, but so many of their crosses ended up in the keeper’s hands – aiming those another few yards away from the net might have given them a better chance of converting. Dylan Carreiro did well with what room he could generate in the midfield, but TFC did a good job of limiting his effectiveness and Carreiro found himself surrounded by three or more TFC players on more than one occasion – I’m impressed by his play-making abilities in every match and will be disappointed if he doesn’t manage to earn himself a place in the Canadian Premier League whenever it starts.
The single point puts a bit more pressure on Woodbridge ahead of their all-important match against Vaughan next week, as a win would’ve put them seven points up on their competition. A win for Vaughan next week could bring Woodbridge’s eastern conference lead down to two points, with Woodbridge still having to face Sigma and Oakville before the end of the season. This draw is still better than anything Vaughan earned against a top-three western conference team, but Woodbridge’s success has been held back by a pair of draws against mid-level western teams who Vaughan managed to beat. Toronto FC III remains ten points back of Sigma, and while one can never rule out some late-season drama courtesy of NCAA-related player movement, the odds on TFC III are starting to look rather long. Their next match is a make-up game on the Civic long weekend on the road against Ottawa South United.
#1 – Gianluca Catalano (GK)
#2 – Andrew Dias
#4 – Nikola Dias – YC (38′)
#5 – Rocco Romeo
#6 – Jordan Faria – Off (80′)
#9 – Cyrus Rollocks – Off (70′)
#10 – Matthew Srbely
#16 – Marko Mandekic – Off (46′)
#18 – Nicholas Osorio – YC (68′) – Off (70′)
#22 – Kota Sakurai – Off (57′)
#23 – Riley Ferrazzo – YC (83′)
#13 – Luca Petrasso – On (46′)
#19 – Noble Okello – On (57′)
#17 – Ethan Beckford – On (70′)
#20 – Daniel Da Silva – On (70′)
#14 – Olankunle Dada-Luke – On (80′)
TORONTO FC III 0:0 WOODBRIDGE
38′ YC – TF3 #4 Nikola Dias
66′ YC – WDB #11 Stephen Almeida
68′ YC – TF3 #18 Nicholas Osorio
69′ YC – WDB #8 Oscar Cordon
83′ YC – TF3 #23 Riley Ferrazzo
#1 – Quillan Roberts (GK)
#2 – Quante Abbott-Hill-Smith
#3 – Kyle Watson
#4 – Francesco Sinopoli
#6 – Joshua Paredes-Procter
#7 – Dylan Carreiro
#8 – Oscar Cordon – YC (69′)
#10 – Christian Cavallini – Off (76′)
#11 – Stephen Almeida – YC (66′)
#15 – James Baker – Off (59′)
#17 – Emmanuel Isaac
#22 – Michael Krzeminski – On (59′)
#23 – Luca Baldassarre – On (76′)
Elsewhere in the league
Aaron Schneebeli and Sandro Rajkovic scored first-half goals for FC London while the North Toronto Nitros couldn’t find an equalizer after a second-half Kinlay Shulman strike. The 2-1 loss is the Nitros’ fourth defeat in six games and sees them fall into third place as Vaughan leapfrogs them. London moves to within a single point of TFC III for third place in the west after that team’s draw against Woodbridge.
Kadell Thomas earned two goals and a 61st-minute ejection against Durham while Tyrell Rayne and LeRohne Young scored for the visitors. The 2-2 draw marks only the third time this season that Sigma has dropped points, and they now sit only three points ahead of Oakville with a game against the Blue Devils later on this week. Durham moves to within two points of North Toronto after claiming the single point.
ProStars and Toronto Skillz had their match postponed due to the closure of Avondale Stadium on account of a nearby fire. My anticipation of Skillz earning a point or ProStars earning a win has to be held off until August 17th, when these two will have another crack at it.
Brandon Mills scored an injury-time winner for Vaughan as the Azzurri defeated North Mississauga by a 1-0 scoreline. Andrew D’Souza returned to earn the clean sheet for Vaughan, while Devante Walker and Jonathan Jebbison both earned reds for their teams. Vaughan moves ahead of North Toronto and into second place with the win, while North Mississauga will be eliminated from title contention if Sigma beats Oakville this week.
Antonio Downey scored twice and Nuno Goncalves earned the clean sheet as Sanjaxx beat Aurora by a 2-0 scoreline. The win is Sanjaxx’s second of the year, moving them to nine points for the season. Aurora remains seventh in the east and will be eliminated from title contention with any more dropped points.
Joey Melo scored early for Master’s but it wasn’t enough to hold off Oakville as the Blue Devils claimed the 2-1 win. Judah Hernandez and Filipe Vilela scored for Oakville while Matt George earned the win. This 11th win of the year moves Oakville even with Sigma in that category while now sitting only three points behind in the standings, setting the stage for a critical match between those teams this Thursday. Master’s remains at 17 points, two behind Ottawa South who face TFC III in a make-up game this weekend.