Luke Moore assisted on what he hoped would be the winning goal by Jonathan Osorio. But, after the Columbus Crew tied the match in the 81st minute he had to do a little extra.
Moore headed in a corner kick by Collen Warner in the 84th minute to give Toronto FC a 3-2 win against Columbus on Saturday. Moore’s goal was the last of three scores in the final 31 minutes and gives Toronto a sweep of the three-game season series against the Crew.
“They defend well in the box. They counter well and (have) set pieces,” Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter said. “Those three components gave us trouble in all three games.”
It was the latter that proved to be the difference.
Moore’s fifth goal of the season came under duress. He was blanketed by Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld but still managed to direct the ball past goalkeeper Steve Clark.
“It happened quickly,” Moore said. “It was a great ball by Collen. It had enough pace on it. I think the keeper misread it.”
Gilberto gave Toronto (9-7-5) a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute off a pass from Moore, but the Crew got the equalizer in the second minute of first-half stoppage time on a penalty kick by Federico Higuain.
“The first half we created so many chances to put the game to bed,” Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen said. “We just didn’t take them and then the penalty gave them a big boost, especially the timing of it. We knew they were going to come out invigorated by that.”
Toronto took a 2-1 lead in the 59th minute with Moore the catalyst. He challenged Clark in the box but was denied. The ball bounced off Moore to an unmarked Osorio for the easy goal, his second of the season.
Columbus (6-8-9) made it 2-2 when Justin Meram’s long cross ended up skipping past goalkeeper Joe Bendik as he was distracted in front by Schoenfeld’s try for the ball.
Toronto was undeterred and Moore’s score gave the Reds five goals in the past two games despite the absence of leading scorer Jermain Dafoe (11 goals), who is expected to miss two to three more weeks because of a groin injury.
“The mentality of this team is strong,” Toronto midfielder Michael Bradley said. “We need to be a little more consistent. To do that we need to be a little more ruthless and determined to walk off fields every week with points.”
Nelsen is encouraged by the play of Gilberto, the Designated Player from Brazil in his first MLS season. On his goal, Moore found Gilberto drifting wide on the left flank.
Gilberto had the angle on Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez, a starter for Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup, and beat Clark with pin-point accuracy for his fourth goal.
“Every game Gilberto is getting better,” Nelsen said. “We knew Gilberto was finding out the league. It takes the foreign guys a wee bit of a while. He was injured all pre-season so he kind of started a few yards back of everybody else. He’s catching up.”
The Crew were able to tie the score 1-1 when Justin Morrow was called for a handball, but TFC battled back.
“It shows we can win at any place, including Columbus, which is a very difficult place to play,” Nelsen said. “We haven’t had much success here ever so to win here twice (this season) is obviously very big.”
Toronto next plays at Sporting Kansas City on Aug. 16.