In a Trillum Cup matchup set farther south than usual, Toronto FC (1-1-2, 5 pts.) got an early goal from Michael Bradley and a late goal from Jozy Altidore to defeat Columbus SC 2-0 at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Wednesday night for their first win of the 2021 season.
The loss marked the first MLS regular-season defeat of 2021 for the Crew (1-1-2, 5 pts.).
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Toronto FC, continuing its 2021 in Florida, opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A ping-ponging ball that Columbus SC defenders couldn't quite clear from the box, despite multiple attempts, was captured by TFC and worked over to Bradley, who finished to give the hosts the early lead. Then, Yeferson Soteldo, on his MLS debut, nearly got his first goal in his first match in the 26th minute, after a Nick DeLeon shot that hit the crossbar fell to him, but Saad Abdul-Salaam slid to parry the return shot away.
Despite Luis Diaz's efforts, including a 31st-minute shot that forced TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono to go airborne on his save, the Crew couldn't equalize before the end of the half.
Soteldo nearly had an assist eight minutes into the second half, firing a corner kick that reached a waiting Omar Gonzalez. The U.S. national team veteran fired toward goal, but his fellow international, Darlington Nagbe, headed the shot off the line to bail out Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room and keep TFC from doubling.
NATIONWIDE MAN OF THE MATCH FOR #TORvCLB: Darlington Nagbe
Diaz had another chance to get Columbus on the board in the 58th minute, skipping a ball across the goalmouth and teammate Jonathan Mensah, but continued his (and the Crew's) tough luck.
Head coaches Chris Armas and Caleb Porter went to seasoned goal-scoring subs as the chess match progressed, with Altidore coming on for Toronto and Bradley Wright-Phillips coming on for Columbus.
The move looks like it initially favored Armas' side, as Altidore rattled the crossbar with a 75th-minute shot that nearly provided an insurance goal. Then, in the 87th minute, Bradley got a free kick opportunity, Gonzalez headed the ball goalward, and Altidore opportunistically got on the end of it to head it in on the line — three Americans combining to seal the first win of 2021 for the Canadian side.
Up next, Columbus is scheduled to travel to New England to take on the Revolution on Sunday, May 16. Kickoff on Sunday is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET from Gillette Stadium.