The superlatives at BMO Field on Friday night were reserved for the players wearing red – specifically, a midfield debutante from Spain.
For the team in blue, the score line was dreadful – and the performance dismal.
With three second half goals, Toronto FC buried New York City FC, 4-0 before an announced 25,447 in Ontario.
TFC’s newest first team member – designated player Alejandro Pozuelo – had a pair of special goals plus an assist. It was arguably the most influential opening act in the history of the league. And yes, that includes Ibra’s dramatic unveiling last summer in the LA derby.
Pozuelo, donning the No. 10 formerly worn by Sebastian Giovinco, dictated the tempo of the match and dazzled in a way to provide supporters security in the post-Giovinco era.
“It was a bad night because they (TFC) decided to win the game,” City head coach Dome Torrent said. “We created only two chances. We didn’t deserve to draw or anything.”
The 27-year old Pozuelo, who began training this week with TFC following his arrival from Genk in Belgium’s first division, assisted Jozy Altidore on the game’s opening goal in the 29th minute.
13 minutes into the second half, the former Real Betis and Swansea City player effectively closed the proceedings with a panenka penalty past the sprawling NYCFC goalkeeper, Sean Johnson.
Altidore, trying to reach a delicate chip from Pozuelo, was dragged down in the area by Alexander Callens to set up the spot kick.
“We started to play really well early in the second half – the first 10 minutes,” Torrent said after watching Jesus Medina’s left-footed strike clank off the back post. “But it’s my opinion that after the penalty – and it was a penalty – that finished the game.”
With over a half hour still to recuperate and rally, that is a damning statement from the second-year coach.
“It’s my fault because I didn’t read the game,” Torrent said. “ It’s not about the players.”
Although the young DP Medina, who began the match as a center forward, has failed to notch a goal since last August 4 against Vancouver while his last assist came on July 11 in Montreal.
Pozuelo converted a remarkable, looping left-footed chip in the area over the head of a scrambling Johnson in the 79th minute to make it 3-0 and his substitute, Jay Chapman, finished off the Pigeons with a drive from close range after some dodgy defending by the deflated visitors with seven minutes to play.
“Sometimes you have to recognize and I didn’t read the game,” Torrent said. “Maybe I don’t convince my players the best way to play – sometimes it happens.”
What happens next is a home match on April 6 against the Montreal Impact and Torrent left little doubt about the relevance of that match.
“We have to improve the next game and we have to win the game,” Torrent said. “We need to win the game right now because if not, we are in trouble. We have three points out of 12 and if we want to play the playoff, we need to react quickly.”
Torrent may have the option to counter with the Brazilian transfer, Héber, who arrived in New York on Friday morning and should be available for what is undoubtedly the most important match in the brief MLS tenure of the New York City manager.