Toronto FC midfielder Alejandro Pozuelo (10) is defended by New York Red Bulls midfielder Frankie Amaya (8) during first half MLS soccer action in Toronto, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Katsarov

Teenage substitute Ralph Priso scores to give Toronto FC a 1-1 tie with Red Bulls

Teenage substitute Ralph Priso scores to give Toronto FC a 1-1 tie with Red Bulls

TORONTO — Teenage substitute Ralph Priso scored his first MLS goal to lift Toronto FC into a 1-1 tie with the New York Red Bulls in MLS play Wednesday.

After Polish striker Patryk Klimala put the visitors ahead in the 46th minute, Priso pulled Toronto even in the 62nd minute. Red Bulls goalkeeper Carlos Coronel was only able to tip a high Yeferson Soteldo cross away and the ball went straight to Priso whose left-footed shot bounced off the ground and into the goal on Toronto’s first shot on target.

The goal, in Priso’s 11th career MLS game, brought Toronto and the fans at BMO Field to life with Soteldo starting to attack down the left wing

Attendance was capped at 15,000, up from 7,000 on Saturday — the first time there were fans in the stands since March 2020. Wednesday marked the largest crowd at a Canadian sporting event since the pandemic began.

There was some bad blood midway through the second half when Toronto substitute Jozy Altidore tangled with defender Thomas Edwards. Alejandro Pozuelo got involved in the subsequent melee with both Edwards and Pozuelo subsequently cautioned.

After a lacklustre first half from both teams, the Red Bulls went ahead when the Toronto defence was unable to handle a long free kick from inside the New York half. Goalkeeper Alex Bono made back-to-back saves on Brazilian forward Fabio and Klimala in the ensuing penalty box mayhem but could not stop Klimala’s second effort.

Toronto interim coach Javier Perez brought Altidore on in the 54th minute in a bid to spark the offence. Altidore, return to action after eight weeks on the outs with the club, came on in the 64th minute Saturday and scored in TFC’s 1-1 tie with visiting Orlando.

Altidore came close in a wild stoppage time but his header off a cross from Soteldo, whose moves left a defender sliding off the pitch, went high.

It marked only the second time in nine games (0-7-2) this season that TFC has given up the first goal and earned a point.

Toronto (2-8-4) is now unbeaten in three games (1-0-2) under Perez, who took over from the fired Chris Armas in the wake of a six-match losing streak. TFC still ranked 26th in the 27-team league standings and had the worst defence in MLS, conceding 2.31 goals a game.

The Red Bulls’ weekend game against visiting Inter Miami was postponed due to inclement weather. The New Yorkers (5-5-3) were unbeaten in their three previous games (1-0-2) and had lost just once in six games (3-1-2).

But away form has been an issue. The Red Bulls ended a nine-match winless run on the road (0-6-3 including the playoffs) with a 2-1 win at Orlando on July 3.

TFC went with the same starting 11 that tied Orlando City 1-1 Saturday. That meant another start up front for Dom Dwyer with Altidore on the bench.

The Red Bulls went with the same starting 11 planned for the Inter Miami match.

Toronto did not put a shot on goal in the first half with Red Bulls fullback Kyle Duncan managing to keep a lid on the dangerous Soteldo. The visitors looked more dangerous on the break but only put one shot on goal in the first 45 minutes..

Venezuelan midfielder Wikelman Carmona threatened early, dancing around defender Omar Gonzalez in the first minute but his touch was heavy and Bono got to it first. Brazilian fullback Auro made a saving tackle for Toronto in the 12th minute, poking the ball away from Carmona in the penalty box.

Auro was hurt on the play and, after taking another knock, exited in the 18th minute. With fullbacks Kemar Lawrence and Richie Lareau away at the Gold Cup, midfielder Mark Delgado, in his 200th MLS regular-season appearance, had to shift to right back with Priso coming in the midfield.

Toronto was missing four other players at the Gold Cup — Jonathan Osorio and Richie Laryea (Canada), Eriq Zavaleta (El Salvador) and Lawrence (Jamaica). Striker Ayo Akinola, who was in attendance Wednesday, is lost for the season after injuring his knee at the CONCACAF championship in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the U.S.

Lawrence came off in the 60th minute of Jamaica’s 1-0 loss Tuesday to Costa Rica with a knock. TFC said its understanding was it was just a precautionary move.

The Red Bulls were missing Youba Diarra (hamstring), Aaron Long (Achilles), Daniel Royer (thigh) and Andres Reyes (hamstring).

The New Yorkers had won their four previous meetings (3-0-1) with Toronto, including a 2-0 victory May 8 at Red Bull Arena.

There is no word yet on attendance numbers for Toronto’s next home game, scheduled for Aug. 1 against Nashville SC. TFC plays at Chicago on July 24.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept, 21, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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