Toronto FC falls 1-0 to Inter Miami in agonizing fashion


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The only break Toronto FC experienced on Tuesday night was heartbreak.

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The hard-luck Reds dropped a 1-0 decision to Inter Miami at BMO Field in the worst way imaginable — a penalty kick in added time.

Worse than that, twice it appeared that the Reds were going to take the lead, and perhaps finally get a win, only to have a penalty kick called back and an apparent goal ruled a no-goal.

It’s almost like this team is cursed.

Christian Makoun scored on a penalty kick for Inter Miami in stoppage time, after a Chris Mavinga foul in the box, to give the Herons the victory, just minutes after it appeared TFC had taken a lead.

TFC has now lost six in a row and are winless in nine games. The Reds certainly deserved better than the loss, controlling the play for most the game despite being down a man.

Toronto appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the final three minutes of the game when young Canadian winger Jacob Shaffelburg, who came into the game early as a substitute and played out of his mind, left-footed a shot into the goal. The ball appeared to go into the goal, but because a lack of goal line technology, the original ruling of no-goal stood.

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For the second time in the last three games, TFC lost a man early to a red card. Up until the expulsion, in the 37th minute, Toronto was on the front foot and looked primed to open the scoring and possibly break an eight-game winless streak. But then the proverbial, and almost predictable, kick in the chops: Just prior to TFC defender Kemar Lawrence being given a red card, the Reds missed out on a great scoring chance when they were awarded a penalty kick, only to see it overturned on VAR.

A number of TFC players rose to the occasion against a rising Miami club, particularly Shaffelburg, Yeferson Soteldo, Richie Laryea, Shaffelburg on the attack and Mavinga at centre back, despite his costly foul in added time on Makoun, whom he shoulder checked off the ball .

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Inter Miami, playing in Canada for the first time in franchise history, was without its leading attacker, scorer Gonzolo Higuain, who leads the club with nine goals and five assists, and it showed.

The win by Miami marked that club’s fourth clean sheet in a row.

One of TFC’s three Designated Players, Soteldo, returned to the starting XI after coming back from the international break last week, though Toronto coach Javier Perez was again without his other two DP’s — star attacking midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (quad) and forward Jozy Altidore (foot). Perez is hopeful that Pozuelo will be available to play some minutes on Saturday night when the Reds host Nashville at BMO Field.

TFC winger Tsubasa Endoh went down in the third minute chasing after a ball in Miami’s end, and was replaced by Shaffelburg. Endoh appeared to pull a hamstring. Three minutes later, Mavinga went down hard on his back attempting to head a ball on a corner kick, although he stayed in the game, which was fortunate for the Reds as TFC desperately needs his pace and experience on the backline.

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TFC started the game well and the BMO Field crowd thought they could smell a goal early when, in the 14th minute, Soteldo took a quick free kick and fed the ball to Laryea in the box and the Canadian international was pulled down by a Miami defender after getting away a shot. Referee Ramy Touchan ruled a penalty kick though after going to the VAR, the play was ruled offside.

Shaffelburg made his presence felt quickly, feeding Ifunanyachi Achara a left-footed cross into the box but Achara failed to connect the pass into the open net.

The first half was very spirited affair, with TFC dominating possession 60%-40%.

TFC keeper Alex Bono made a nice sliding save on Rodolfo Pizarro, though the play was called offside.

But then the good start imploded for TFC in the 37th minute when Lawrence pulled down Miami forward Robbie Robinson just outside the box after a great pass from former Red and Canadian international Jay Chapman — the second time in the last three games Toronto lost a man to a red card early. On Aug. 27, TFC midfielder when down a man early to CF Montreal when midfielder Noble Okello was given a red card and TFC lost 3-1.

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Inter Miami put the pressure on right after Lawrence’s red card and Bono was forced to make a great diving save on a left-foot blast by Indiana Vassilev.

Down a man, Perez re-organized his team to a 4-4-1 formation in the second half and that paid dividends. The Reds, to their credit, remained on the front foot in the second half, displaying some brilliance on the attack in the 58th minute on a counter-attack started and finished by Laryea. Laryea fed Shaffelburg a through ball on the left side from TFC’s end. The Port Williams, N.S. native charged down the field and found Soteldo just outside the middle of the box with a pass and the Venezuelan dropped it back to Laryea who right-footed a shot at Miami keeper Nick Marsman.

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Shaffelburg kept up his high-energy game. In the 63rd minute, the 21-year-old winger out-ran a defender into the Miami box, forcing Marsman to make a good save, though Toronto picked up a corner kick.

TFC’s inability to open the scoring in the second half despite being down a man resulted in some frustration spilling over, including when midfielder Mark Delgado picked up a needless yellow card shortly after when he booted the ball away after Touchan called Jonathan Osorio on a foul.

The under-performing Soteldo tried to carry the team on his diminutive shoulders in the second half, creating numerous scoring chances for Toronto, including just missing on a right-foot in the 77th minute.

SBuffery@postmedia.com

Twitter @Beezersun

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