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Home Sport Akinola's game-winning strike heightens Toronto FC's Supporters' Shield hopes

Akinola’s game-winning strike heightens Toronto FC’s Supporters’ Shield hopes

Ayo Akinola’s first-half goal lifted Toronto FC to its fourth straight win with a 1-0 decision over the New England Revolution in MLS play Wednesday.

After Akinola put Toronto ahead in the 29th minute, a clumsy tackle by Marky Delgado on Lee Nguyen in the 67th minute gave New England the chance to equalize. But Polish forward Adam Buksa hammered the ensuing penalty kick over the crossbar for the goal-challenged Revs.

It picked up points Wednesday despite missing the injured Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Justin Morrow in a stadium that has proved to be hostile territory in the past.

“This was a tough game,” said coach Greg Vanney. “This was a scrap-it-out-battle-for-every inch kind of a game.”

“I’m proud of the guys,” he added. “They stood strong and resilient … I thought it was an incredible effort.”

WATCH | Toronto FC overcome Revs to earn 4th straight victory:

Ayo Akinola’s goal gives Toronto FC a 1-0 victory over New England Revolution for their 4th straight win and are unbeaten in their last 6 matches. 1:15

Backup goalkeeper Alex Bono recorded his third clean sheet in as many appearances this season, upping his career shutout total to a club-record 29.

Toronto (10-2-4) is now unbeaten in six outings (5-0-1) and sitting atop the league standings after Columbus dropped a 2-1 decision to Montreal. TFC came into the game tied on goal difference with the Crew after dispatching elite opposition in New York City FC, Columbus and Philadelphia.

New England (5-4-7) saw its four-game undefeated streak snapped.

It was a rare win in Gillette Stadium for Toronto. Going into Wednesday’s game, TFC was 2-10-5 at New England and had been outscored 31-12.

TFC has lost just two of 26 regular-season matches (14-2-10) since a 2-0 defeat at the New York Red Bulls on Aug. 3, 2019. Those two setbacks came four days apart last month, in one-goal losses to Montreal and Vancouver, respectively. A July defeat against New York City FC in the round of 16 at the MLS is Back Tournament did not count in the regular-season standings.

Toronto, like Montreal and Vancouver, due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, is having to play its remaining regular-season games south of the border. TFC has made East Hartford, Conn., its home away from home.

Akinola used his speed and power to good effect on Toronto’s goal, outmuscling defender Andrew Farrell to get to a ball sent in by Alejandro Pozuelo before poking the ball past goalkeeper Matt Turner. New England coach Bruce Arena wanted a foul on the play but Akinola’s eighth of the season — and second in as many games — stood up.

It ended a 213-minute shutout run for the Revs, who had allowed just one goal over the previous four games.

Akinola gave a hint in the sixth minute of what was to come after a fine long pass from Delgado, but his shot flashed just wide of the post.

There was some bad blood in the 39th when Toronto winger Pablo Piatti, incensed at a hard Tommy McNamara challenge, went after the Revs midfielder. McNamara had earned the ire of Laryea seconds earlier for a physical tackle.

Bono, making his 100th start in all competitions for Toronto, flubbed a couple of catches in the first half. He did better early n the second half, denying DeJuan Jones and Nguyen.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney made four changes to the starting 11 that beat Philadelphia 2-1 on the weekend, with two of the moves injury-related.

Wednesday’s game was the second of five in 16 days for Toronto, which visits Cincinnati on Sunday.

Impact upset Crew

Bojan Krkic scored on a penalty kick in the 74th minute to help the Montreal Impact beat the Columbus Crew 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Montreal Impact (6-8-2) have won two straight after a four-match losing streak. The Crew (9-3-4) are winless in their last three matches.

“A win is a win, and this one was against the best team in the league. I said it was going to be a difficult game and it was tough. But it’s a good win,” said Impact coach Thierry Henry.

“We have to keep our feet on the ground and keep working. We found a way to disturb them today, we have to keep on going.”

WATCH | Impact defeat Crew through Bojan penalty:

Montreal Impact defeat Columbus Crew 2-1 with Bojan’s penalty in the 74th minute. 0:45

Bojan’ beat goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell with a right-footed shot to the bottom right corner for his second goal of the season.

Bojan nearly scored in the the 24th minute. He fired a shot that hit the crossbar. The ball deflected to Lassi Lappalainen, whose header attempt hit a defender, but Lappalainen scored off the deflection.

Gyasi Zardes, who leads the Crew with 10 goals, scored from a cross that deflected off his head and bounced into the net from close range in the 45th.

Undermanned Whitecaps fall to Earthquakes

The San Jose Earthquakes handed an undermanned Vancouver Whitecaps squad a 3-0 loss in California Wednesday.

Cristian Espinoza, Andres Rios and Paul Marie scored for the Quakes (5-6-5), who notched their third win in a row.

The Whitecaps (5-11-0) were forced to play with nine men for the final 15 minutes of the game after both Andy Rose and Erik Godoy were sent off with red cards.

WATCH | Whitecaps outdone by Earthquakes:

Cristian Espinoza opened the scoring in New England’s 3-0 win over Vancouver who had 2 players handed red cards. 1:10

The Whitecaps played a promising first half, keeping the pressure up and peppering San Jose ‘keeper J.T. Marcinkowski with five on-target shots.

The California native stopped a total of five shots for the Earthquakes Wednesday, while Evan Bush made five saves for Vancouver.

Ultimately, the Whitecaps failed to bring the same momentum to the second frame and suffered their third loss in a row.

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