Toronto, Canada — Ifunanyachi Achara scores his first MLS goal in the 80th minute and Toronto FC won their home opener over New York City FC at BMO Field. This win improves Toronto’s record to 1-1-0 for the season. Meanwhile, New York City has now lost its first two MLS games, which have been on the road.
The game was even in the first half. Quentin Westberg made a good save in the 18th minute to keep the score level. Achara also made his presence felt. He scored in the 11th minute of play before the goal was waved off because he was offside.
It’s important to note that Jozy Altidore and Alejandro Pozuelo played strong soccer together. They were able to link passes to each other, which resulted in some good scoring chances that, on another day, would be in the back of the net. It was also the first time Pozuelo did not score against New York City FC in a competitive match.
However, the story of the game is Achara. He is a Nigerian native that was selected in the first round by Toronto FC. He was not supposed to play on Saturday, but Tsubasa Endoh failed the fitness test, allowing Achara to shine in Toronto’s home opener.
Toronto FC dominated the second half but missed a lot of scoring chances in the process. It was not until the 80th minute when Achara scored the only game-winning goal for TFC. However, what was more impressive was their ability to complete a clean sheet, which was one of the three keys of the game.
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) March 8, 2020
Three Keys to the Game
Keeping a Clean Sheet
This factor will be very important for Toronto players, coaches and fans to look at as the season goes on. Everyone knows that Toronto FC’s offense is extremely gifted, but good defense will also be needed to win the MLS Cup.
They were two giveaways in the first half that almost resulted in goals. NYCFC also had a good chance to score in the 70th minute. However, overall, Toronto’s defense was sharp tonight and Westberg made some key big saves to keep the clean sheet and the win for Toronto.
The partnership between Altidore and Pozuelo was on full display on Saturday. Pozuelo made lots of good passes to Altidore throughout the match. However, Altidore was unable to hit the back of the net. However, both players connected between Achara and Richie Laryea for that all-important goal in the 80th minute. Look for these two to continue to play well and score lots of goals this year.
Ifunanyachi Achara and Richie Laryea
Achara played a great game as he showed poise and was able to provide the team with energy and excitement throughout the season. He provided energy Toronto needed to win the game tonight. He should also be given credit for setting up the goal in the 80th minute that led to Laryea shooting the ball into the net before Achara headed it in.
Laryea also played well, as the local Canadian got a wonderful shot off that beat New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson. In reality, Laryea should be given credit for the goal, as it was already heading into the net before Achara headed it in. However, Saturday was Laryea’s night to remember as he made his first-ever MLS debut.
Greg Vanney, head coach of Toronto FC, was very impressed with Achara.
“Quite a night,” Vanney said. “It shows you the confidence he has, but also the composure and, even though he’s a young guy, he’s got a lot of experience under his belt. He came to the U.S. when he was 15 years old, from Nigeria. You can tell he’s a man, he understands what life is about and he shows that when he’s on the field.”
Honourary Toronto mans? ?
— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) March 8, 2020
Overview of the Game
This game was fast-moving as both teams had scoring chances throughout the game. However, Toronto, with a dominant second half, had most of the scoring chances and was well-deserved winners at BMO Field. It was an impressive performance from Toronto FC. It showed the potential that they are one of the top teams in MLS.
Toronto FC’s next home game will be against Nashville SC on Saturday, before heading off to Ohio against FC Cincinnati in March 21 and Columbus Crew SC on April 4.
For New York City FC, they have only a few days left before their next game. This will be their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal first leg match against Tigres UANL on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena. They will then play their home opener at Yankee Stadium on Saturday against FC Dallas.
A few days afterwards, they will travel to Mexico to play their second leg of the Concacaf Champions League on March 17 against Tigres UANL. Then on March 21, they will host the Vancouver Whitecaps FC before traveling to Washington D.C. to face DC United on April 3.