Minnesota United scores late to tie on the road against Toronto FC

Toronto FC's Lorenzo Insigne brings the ball forward during Canadian Championship quarterfinal soccer action against CF Montreal in Toronto on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (CP)

Toronto, on the strength of a 58th-minute goal by Lorenzo Insigne, seemed headed for its first road win of the season only to have to settle for a 1-1 draw with Minnesota United on Saturday after substitute Kervin Arriaga scored in the 89th minute.

“When you work that hard you want the group to take three points,” said Toronto coach Bob Bradley. “Especially when you consider the tough stretch we’ve been through. On that end, there’s real disappointment there tonight … A tough one.”

Minnesota put just three of its 19 shots on target but the game turned with the arrival of attacking midfielder Emanuel Reynoso in the 65th minute. The Argentine designated player, who led Minnesota with 10 goals and 11 assists last year, was making his first appearance after being suspended for not joining the team at the start of this season.

Toronto’s cause was not helped by an injury to centre back Matt Hedges, who limped off in the 57th minute. Sigurd Rosted, his replacement, had not seen action since May 9 due to a rib injury.

Reynoso, delivering dangerous balls from set pieces as under-pressure Toronto was forced to foul, pulled the strings as Minnesota mounted a comeback.

A Reynoso free kick off a Rosted foul almost led to a Minnesota goal in the 87th minute, with Toronto centre back Aime Mabika making a key block of a Mender García shot from close range.

Minnesota kept up the pressure. And after Federico Bernardeschi cleared the ball from a Minnesota corner, it found its way to Reynoso on the left flank. His well-aimed cross dropped to Bongokuhle Hlongwane at the far post, with Toronto goalkeeper Sean Johnson making a marvellous save to parry the South African’s header.

But the rebound went to Arriaga who sidestepped two defenders and fired a shot that deflected in off midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye.

TFC, which put five of its 10 shots on target, hung on for the tie as Minnesota kept coming in stoppage time.

Toronto (3-5-9) extended its unbeaten league run to three games (1-0-2). But it has won just two of its last 14 outings in all competitions (2-5-7).

“There are things there that if we can continue to build on are positive moving forward,” Bradley said of his team’s performance.

“At the end of the day we do have to be disappointed in ourselves because I don’t think TFC plays for draws,” added Mabika. “But we take it as a positive still — in terms of the performances that we’ve seen, everyone working hard, it looks like a real team. I think it we keep going on this road, it’s more sustainable.”

Toronto went ahead on a 58th-minute counterattack led by Bernardeschi after Minnesota lost the ball near the TFC goal. The Italian charged up the middle of the pitch with the ball eventually finding its way to Richie Laryea whose cross went through the penalty box to Insigne who beat Canadian ‘keeper Dayne St. Clair for his second goal of the season.

Toronto gave up goals in the 90th and 98th minute in a season-opening 3-2 loss at D.C. United. More recently it lost 1-0 May 20 at Austin FC on a 91st-minute goal by Gyasi Zardes.

TFC has yet to win on the road this season (0-4-4). Its last away victory in league play was Aug. 27 at Charlotte.

Minnesota (5-6-5) has won just one of its seven league games at home (1-1-5) this season.

Both teams were playing their third game in a week.

Toronto defeated D.C. United 2-1 last Saturday and drew 0-0 Wednesday with the Chicago Fire, with both games at BMO Field.

Minnesota, which is winless in its four matches in all competitions (0-2-2), lost 2-1 at Austin on Wednesday after tying visiting Real Salt Lake 1-1 last weekend.

It was 31 Celsius at kickoff for Toronto’s first visit to Allianz Field, which opened in April 2019.

Toronto sent on Brandon Servania and Deandre Kerr at halftime for Kosi Thompson and Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty with Bernardeschi taking a more central role. 

Toronto was missing defender Shane O’Neill, midfielders Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Victor Vázquez and Alonso Coello and forward Adama Diomande.

Missing for Minnesota were defenders Mikael Marques, Bakaye Dibassy, Kemar Lawrence (a former TFC player) and Ryen Jiba and midfielder Robin Lod. Former Toronto ‘keeper Clint Irwin was on the Loons’ bench.

Toronto and Minnesota had met just three times previously, with TFC winning the last encounter 4-3 at BMO Field in April 2019. The teams combined for 19 goals in those three matches.

Toronto came into Saturday’s game leading the series 2-1-0, losing 4-3 in its lone visit to Minnesota in July 2018. That game was at TCF Bank Stadium, now known as Huntington Bank Stadium, on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis.

After winning only one of seven matches (1-4-2) in May in all competitions, TFC faces a less congested June with just four matches and an 11-day international break in mid-month.

Toronto hosts Nashville next Saturday.

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