Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By JUSTIN FERGUSON
When Andres Romero put the Montreal Impact on the board just 23 seconds into their Wednesday evening rivalry clash, it looked like it was going to be a long night for Toronto FC.
But instead of a blowout loss at the hands of the Eastern Conference leaders, it was another blown second-half lead that left the hosts with a bad taste in their mouths.
Despite grabbing a shock first-half lead through a trio of first-time MLS goalscorers, Toronto FC gave up a two-goal advantage midway through the second half and were forced to share points with Montreal in a 3-3 tie at BMO Field.
The Impact, who were coming off a heartbreaking 4-3 loss last Saturday to Colorado, looked a step behind their Canadian rivals for most of the match. Bad touches and misplaced short passes handicapped an Impact offense that only had one shot on goal in the entire first half.
Montreal’s offensive problems faded in the 69th minute as a long pass from the middle of the field fell to Hassoun Camara and Matteo Ferrari in the box. The ball touched both players before Camara slotted a shot past Joe Bednik that gave Montreal a lifeline.
Before the Toronto defenders could realize what had hit them, Marco Di Vaio delivered the equalizer. Di Vaio’s 70th-minute goal may have earned his club a tie, but it broke the tie at the top of the Golden Boot race—the veteran forward now leads MLS with 11 goals.
It was another stunning turnaround in a match was flipped on its head in the first half-hour.
The Montreal lead from Romero’s goal, the fifth-fastest in MLS history, lasted less than six minutes as Jeremy Brockie netted his first goal as a member of TFC. An inaccurate long range attempt from Bobby Convey sliced in towards Brockie, who applied a great touch on the ball and powered it into the back of Troy Perkins’s net.
Fifteen minutes later, TFC went up on a header from defender Steven Caldwell, who recently signed a deal to keep him at the club on a permanent basis. While Perkins did well to punch a corner kick out, his backline failed to both get to the ball before Brockie and mark Caldwell on the New Zealand man’s cross.
O’Dea doubled Toronto’s shocking lead three minutes after Caldwell with his first MLS goal. A pass from Luis Silva put him through on goal, and the defender took advantage of the defensive breakdown by slotting the ball into the bottom right corner.
The captain’s goal marked the first time all season TFC had scored more than two goals in a match and was also the seventh goal conceded by the Impact in their last two matches.
And although their multi-goal lead did not last, Toronto came close to a happy ending for their home fans. Brockie tried a bouncing shot from outside the box that had Perkins beat, but the ball ricocheted off the post.
Montreal (9-4-3) will be back at Stade Saputo this Saturday for a match against Chivas USA. Toronto (2-8-7) have a little more than a week off before their next match, a road meeting with Sporting Kansas City on July 13.
Here are the match highlights: