It’s almost like a recurring nightmare for Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
For two straight games he’s seen his team build two-goal leads only to have the defence around him dissolve in the final 20 minutes, leaving him virtually on his own.
Chris Tierney scored in second half-stoppage time to complete a New England Revolution comeback on Saturday and force a 2-2 draw on at BMO Field.
“Whatever I do, it doesn’t matter I guess. It’s frustrating,” said Kocic. “I see other goalkeepers in the league make one save and the game ends 1-0 or 2-0. Whatever I do, it doesn’t matter.”
The Revolution (5-7-3) scored twice in the final 20 minutes with a goal by Blake Brettschneider and then Tierney’s equalizer on virtually the last play of the game.
If it wasn’t for some fine saves by Kocic in the second half, Toronto wouldn’t even have earned a point.
For most of the first half, Kocic was a spectator as his team controlled the play but it all changed after halftime and the last 20 minutes in particular.
Similarities between Saturday’s draw and Wednesday’s 3-3 draw in Houston against the Dynamo were easy to see as TFC blew a two-goal lead in much the same way.
In both games Toronto’s opponents scored with just under 20 minutes remaining and then added the equalizer in the final seconds of the game.
For a team as starved for points as TFC, it’s four points thrown away.
“I think (New England) scored in the same minute that Houston did,” said Danny Koevermans, who scored just over three minutes in for Toronto. “I don’t know what it is. We’ll see next game. Maybe we can do it then.”
First-half goals from Koevermans and Ryan Johnson were wasted by TFC (1-10-2). The sense that the game was far from over in the second half was evident, much as it was against Houston.
Toronto’s back four on Saturday was a young one with Jeremy Hall the eldest at just 23 years old. After the match, TFC’s head coach Paul Mariner admitted that the defensive line likely needs to be addressed before the team’s next match.
He also said that three games in eight days may have caught up to his team and helped in their second-half disappearing act.
The result leaves Mariner without a win in three games since taking over coaching duties from Aron Winter.
“I think we were running on fumes at the end — a long road trip, three games in seven days,” said Mariner, saying his team will refocus for yet another game on Wednesday in Montreal.
“It’s MLS, isn’t it? We just couldn’t hold out.”
Both Toronto goals came from headers inside the 18-yard box on pinpoint crosses from the left side by defender and Canadian international Ashtone Morgan.
It was a dream start for Toronto as Morgan’s left-sided cross was perfectly met by Koevermans, who muscled out New England defender A.J. Soares to flick the ball into the goal three minutes in.
“From the warm-up I was feeling my crosses were looking really good,” said Morgan, who was named Toronto’s man of the match.
“Just doing what I do best just to get the feels and get my balls in and we got two goals out of it.”
It was almost an identical delivery from Morgan that created Toronto’s second goal right before half.
Once again, a well-delivered cross from Morgan went to the right place in the New England penalty area. This time, however, Koevermans missed the header but an unmarked Johnson had the wide-open net to head the ball into from about six yards out.
Right before the half, Kocic looked sharp when he dove to his left to push away a header from Revolution defender Stephen McCarthy.
Kocic was eventually undone in the 71st minute when, after diving to his right to parry a Revolution shot from outside the 18-yard box, he was left helpless as substitute Brettschneider strolled in all alone, picked up the rebound and slotted the ball in.
New England continued to press but it looked as though Toronto would escape with the victory.
However, Tierney got a head to Florian Lechner’s cross, leaving Toronto players and fans stunned. The game ended seconds after play resumed.
“If I can come to something I’m trying my best to come out for every cross I can but I’m not a Superman to come on every cross and we have to fight and have to be responsible for the runners in the box,” said Kocic. “I told them that before we started but it’s coming back at us over and over again. I hope we’ll learn one day.”
Notes: Announced attendance at BMO Field was 18,877. ... Luis Silva, who was one of three TFC players arrested in Houston prior to the draw with the Dynamo, was a second half substitute for Toronto.