Sep 29, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco (10) is congratulated by midfielder Victor Vazquez (7) after scoring a goal in the first half against New England Revolution at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Despite taking a 1-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes against the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Revolution stalled out and suffered their first loss since Aug. 25, conceding a quartet of consecutive goals to lose 4-1.
New England’s loss doesn’t officially eliminate the club from postseason contention, but it’s basically down to being barely in the hunt mathematically.
The Revs remain in eighth place in the East, while seventh-place D.C. United, which defeated Montreal 5-0 earlier Saturday, closed the gap on the sixth and final playoff spot.
The Revolution – as has been the case numerous times the last three months – hardly looked like a team that deserves to play past the regular season.
However, New England started off well by shooting six times in the first 15 minutes. Cristian Penilla opened the scoring with his 11th goal of the season in the 10th minute. He swept a loose ball into the back of the net after possession fell his way following an errant clearance by Toronto’s Gregory van der Wiel off a breakaway by Luis Caicedo.
The Revolution found early success via the high press and through Penilla’s speed and Teal BunBury’s hold-up play.
But it became clear as the field stretched that the Revs would not be able to sustain their high-octane tactics.
Toronto broke into the game through their star attacking talisman, Sebastian Giovinco, who did plenty of solo work most of the night after Jozy Altidore left the game due to an undisclosed injury in the 15th minute.
In the 36th minute, Toronto tied the game off a giveaway in midfield. Marky Delgado stripped the ball off Scott Caldwell and possession fell to Victor Vazquez, who then sent Giovinco in behind New England’s defense with a cutting through ball.
Giovinco ran onto the feed and went at the Revs’ back line before looping the ball over the outstretched reach of New England goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
Toronto wasted no time asserting itself in the second half, either. Lucas Janson had a goal waved off for handling in the penalty area in the 47th minute and referee Ismail Elfath called off an apparent goal by Jonathan Osorio for a foul at midfield moments later.
Janson finally got Toronto the lead in the 53rd minute. He went in behind off a Giovinco through ball and had his first effort saved by Knighton but buried his rebound.
Toronto’s Michael Bradley helped make it 3-1 in the 58th minute. He was taken down in the box by Jalil Anibaba, prompting Elfath to award Toronto a penalty kick. Victor Vazquez buried the ensuing spot kick, shooting right as Knighton dove the other way.
TFC scored its fourth goal in the 81st minute, when Delgado headed the ball into an empty net to ice the game.
Despite the victory, Toronto’s playoff hopes are in deeper doubt than New England’s. In fact, tempers flared between both teams as the two sides fought for what little chance they had left of making it to the postseason.
Penilla clashed numerous times with Toronto’s Auro; Vazquez appeared to shove Revolution right back Andrew Farrell to the ground late in the first half; there was intense protest after Elfath disallowed Toronto’s goal via video review; and Giovinco and Kelyn Rowe also went at each other numerous times.