By DAN KARELL
Ryan Nelsen’s coaching nightmare is showing no signs of coming to an end.
After conceding late goals in losses last Saturday and Wednesday, Toronto FC again gifted an opponent a late goal, failing to win for the seventh consecutive match.
Edson Buddle scored off a defensive gaffe by Logan Emery in the 86th minute to lead the Colorado Rapids over TFC, 1-0, on Saturday night at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in a game that was marked by poor passing from both sides and a lack of rhythm throughout. The goal was Buddle’s first of the season and first as a member of the Rapids after signing with the club this past offseason.
The first half left a lot to be desired except for two early chances just seconds apart. TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik stopped Rapids midfielder Nick LaBrocca from point-blank range when LaBrocca was one-on-one with the ‘keeper in the 11th minute. Just two minutes later, a Rapids turnover by defender Brian Mullen left TFC forward Robert Earnshaw with a wonderful opportunity at the top of the box to score, but he didn’t get enough on a low strike and Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin dove well to make the stop and grab the subsequent rebound.
In the second half, the Rapids began to impose themselves on the game a bit more, with the introductions of Buddle at the start of the half and playmaker Martin Rivero in the 58th minute helping to jump-start a stale and lifeless match. Manager Oscar Pareja urged his team forward, getting more out of winger Danny Mwanga on the left and Rivero on the right to cause problems for Nelsen and his team.
Finally the turning point came in the 86th minute, when a cross from the left crossed up Emery inside the six yard box. The ball sat on the grass just feet from Buddle, who took two quick steps and then slammed the ball into the back of the net.
It’s the sixth time in the last eight matches in all competitions for TFC that they have conceded in the final minutes of the match. Worse, after scoring five goals in his first six MLS matches, Earnshaw has been held scoreless in his last three.
Here are the match highlights: