A trio of first-half goals powered the Canadians’ result. Patrick Mullins struck in the 10th-minute following a Caleb Stanko turnover. Just 11 minutes later, Nick DeLeon doubled the Reds’ lead with a first-time effort after Joseph-Claude Gyau failed to head clear a Toronto corner. And the third came as Alejandro Pozuelo picked out a wide-open Marky Delgado on 28 minutes to cap the first half blitzkrieg.
Toronto added two more in the second half — the first from Michael Bradley in the 58th and the final from Nicolas Benezet in the 85th — before Emmanuel Ledesma pulled back a consolation goal from the penalty in injury time.
TFC dominated the match not just with goals, but also in just about every major statistical category, too. They outshot FCC 13-8, outpassed the hosts 670-430, and won the possession battle with 60.4% of the ball. Toronto even made it into the referee’s book more than Cincinnati, with substitute Eriq Zavaleta leading the way with a second booking seeing him off two minutes from the final whistle.
The victory lifts Toronto FC (11-10-8, 41 points) to sixth in the Eastern Conference and increases their cushion over eighth-placed Montreal to four points in the race for the MLS Cup Playoffs. Meanwhile, FC Cincinnati (5-21-3, 18 points) slump to their fourth straight defeat and increase their winless run to nine matches.
Absences allow Cincinnati to evaluate roster
Thanks to international call-ups, injuries, and suspensions, FC Cincinnati head coach Ron Jans had to make do with a patchwork squad against Toronto.
“We knew we would miss some players, so we’re not making a problem out of it,” Jans said prior to Saturday’s match. “It’s good to see some new youngsters.”
In particular, it was his defense that bore the brunt of those absences. With captain Kendall Waston and Alvas Powell both away on international duty, and Dutch centerback Maikel van der Werff injured, Jans had just five defenders at his disposal. As such, Greg Garza — a 5’8″ who normally plays left back — was forced into partnering Nick Hagglund in central defense.
“It was the first time in my life that I have ever done that and I guess it is okay,” said Garza after the match. “It’s tough to end the game with that kind of result, but it is an experience [that I can use to] make myself a bit more versatile player.”
Elsewhere, Allan Cruz’s own call-up meant rookie Tommy McCabe earned his first MLS start in midfield. And up top, recent signing Gyau also earned his first start thanks in part to Kekutah Manneh’s suspension after picking up a red card in last week’s 3-1 loss at Dallas.
And while the inexperience in Cincinnati’s squad certainly contributed to the final scoreline, Jans still looked at the experience as a positive.
“To be a better player, you need experiences like this,” said Jans in his post-match comments.