After going seven hours of playing time without a goal, Toronto FC players had every reason to look skyward and shake their heads as a club-record winless skid at BMO Field appeared poised to continue.
But Saturday’s late afternoon rain storm ended up being an inspiration rather than an insult, as the Reds scored two goals over the final seven minutes to defeat the Columbus Crew 2-1, ending a BMO Field futility mark that had extended over 16 matches and more than a year.
Watch: FC beat Columbus Crew 2-1
“If we get a monsoon every last 10 minutes that would be great,” Bobby Convey quipped afterwards. “The fans got into it and they got right behind the team and you saw that it gave everybody energy.
“Hopefully there’s more of this to come.”
Convey was the catalyst, setting up both goals as TFC won for the first time in seven matches, along the way snapping a goalless drought of more than 420 minutes, the worst in Major League Soccer in 2013.
“To get that monkey off the back is big,” said TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen. “It’s something we’ve got to build on.”
Second-half substitute Andrew Wiedeman, who ironically scored the decisive goal the previous time Toronto won at BMO Field on July 18 of last year, played hero again. He lunged to get his left foot on a cross from Convey in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time, putting it past Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and just inside the far post to touch off a celebration by fans and players.
“It felt great,” said Wiedeman, who was making just his third appearance of 2013, all off the bench. “Obviously minutes have been hard to come by. It’s been kind of a roller-coaster ride of a season.
“It’s good to get in there, get some minutes and get a reward for it,” he said of his first goal of 2013.
After the final whistle, those remaining among the drenched 17,987 fans, roared their approval. Many Toronto players raised their arms skyward in celebration and hugged each other as teammates poured off the substitute’s bench. Others pointed to the supporters and applauded.
Just prior to Wiedeman’s winner in the midst of the worst of the downpour, hometown boy Jonathan Osorio tied the game with another superb finish. The rookie took a flick on from Jeremy Brockie on a play started by Convey and drilled a left-footed shot past Gruenebaum from just inside the penalty area.
After the 87th minute strike, Osorio’s fourth of the season, he celebrated by tearing off his red jersey and waving it over his head with his teammates chasing him, earning a yellow card.
“I think justice is finally served for us,” Osorio said. “We’ve been working hard and we’ve come close and finally we turned the tables today.”
After a solid opening quarter of an hour, Toronto (3-10-8) went down on a goal by Columbus (6-10-5) against the run of play. It was one that goalkeeper Joe Bendik would no doubt like back.
Matias Sanchez sent a long diagonal ball to Dominic Oduro at the top right corner of the TFC penalty area. The Ghanaian striker had a deft first touch with his right foot before thumping a volley that skipped inside the near post in the 17th minute past a diving Bendik, who looked startled by the drive.
“It’s funny, goalkeepers end up bailing everybody out,” said Bendik, who kept the deficit at one with two superb saves barely 60 seconds apart near the half-hour mark. “Today, the team really bailed me out.”
After keeping the game close in the first half, Toronto took the game to the visitors over the final 45 minutes. The Reds dominated possession and had several good scoring chances, including Steven Caldwell’s header off the inside of the goalpost behind a helpless Gruenebaum off a corner kick in the 90th minute.
Brockie said Nelsen gave the side a stern talking-to for their play in the first half, “which was probably pretty fairly deserved. And, we came out and there was really only one team in the second half.”