Toronto FC has made securing first place in the Eastern Conference more difficult than it needs to be after their second straight slow start at home.
Justin Morrow’s goal in the 70th minute salvaged a point for Toronto as it came from behind to pick up a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night in Major League Soccer action.
It was the team’s second home game in a row that the visitors scored first. Last week, Toronto twice trailed by two goals before coming back to pick up a 3-3 draw with the New York Red Bulls.
“The first half was horrible because as we get closer to the post-season we can’t start like that,” said forward Jozy Altidore.
“But even with the start the past two games we’ve had the chance to be solo holders of first place so it was another big game for us.”
Toronto is tied for first place in the Eastern Conference with New York City FC but hold a game in hand and has four games left in the regular season. TFC was still able to secure a playoff spot on Saturday after the New York Red Bulls beat the Montreal Impact 1-0.
Morrow made a run from his usual left back position and was the beneficiary of some good work from Canadian midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who had won some space with some skill in possession. Osorio laid the ball off to Morrow, who scored on a tight-angle shot for his fourth of the season for Toronto (13-8-9).
“On that particular instance, (Osorio) did a great job of getting inside of their defence and was able to hold up the ball long enough that (Morrow) could build some speed into the attack and finish it,” said head coach Greg Vanney, who’s see his defenders chip in with an impressive eight goals this season.
“That’s been pretty reminiscent of (Morrow’s) goals this year.”
Philadelphia (11-11-9) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after some sustained pressure that saw a classy finish from Alejandro Bedoya.
Bedoya received a pass from Fabian Herbers with his back to the Toronto goal and quickly spun past the Toronto back line that had one or two players looking for offside. With no whistle, Bedoya deftly chipped a shot that looped over Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
Altidore thought he won Toronto a penalty in the dying seconds but referee Ismail Elfath called Altidore for a foul when he was the one who looked to have the back of his legs kicked by a Philadelphia player.
“In our league, the referees are what they are. They’re the best referees in the world so we’re very lucky,” said Altidore, perhaps with a little tongue-in-cheek.
Irwin, who was making his return to action for the first time since June 25, managed to make a few fine saves to keep the game close.
The Toronto goalkeeper made a diving stop to his left in the seventh minute to stop a Herbers shot and then kept TFC in the game near halftime – stopping Herbers again, this time from close range.
Toronto didn’t get a shot until Canadian Jordan Hamilton struck from just outside the penalty area two minutes into the second half but ended up with 10 in the second half as Philadelphia dropped off deeper into its half.
Notes: Attendance at BMO Field was 26,455. ... It was the first of three home games in seven days for Toronto. Superstar forward Sebastian Giovinco was still out of the lineup with a quad injury. He returned to Italy to seek some treatment from a doctor there and is expected back Monday before Toronto’s home game Wednesday night against Orlando City SC.Report Typo/Error