TFC II earned an impressive 2-1 win over FC Montreal off two huge goals from rising stars.
TFC II entered Montreal’s Olympic Stadium wanting to head back home with a win, and thanks to superb goals from Malik Johnson and Raheem Edwards, were able to kick start their 401 Derby clashes with three points.
The match was expected to be heated, and you could tell at times players from both sides wanted to get under the skin of their opponents. Play was pretty even throughout the first half. Both sides pressured, but neither really had sufficient chances to create something.
The second half is where the derby got interesting. The 54th minute saw Alex Bono miscommunicate with his defenders, leading to Michael Salazar to grab onto the ball, but was stopped by the rushing Bono and right back Bubacarr Jobe. That play almost lead Bono to leave the game with a bloody nose, but the 23-year-old was able to hoop back up and continue playing.
A player that caused TFC II problems was winger Ballou Tabala. Tabala has speed and creativity and always seemed to have the ball at his feet in TFC II’s defensive end. Luckily for the young Reds, full back Anthony Osorio, Jonthan’s younger brother, was able to step up and not allow the tricky Tabala to run by him.
The scoring didn’t start until the 63rd minute, when Malik Johnson came off the bench to score a fantastic goal that saw him run from half, weaving through FC Montreal players and finally get past a rushing Maxime Crépeau and finish off his first of the season.
Not to be out done, Raheem Edwards almost tried the same thing, but he started off on the wing and cut in, blowing past Montreal centre back Kyle Fisher and rocketed a shot top right over Crepeau to give his side the lead, after Tabala made a nice give-and-go with Charles Joly and chipped his shot over a rushing Bono.
The match ended 2-1 and gave TFC II their first win of the season and head back home with four points from two matches.
Malik Johnson has skill
The 17-year-old (who will turn 18 in the coming days) scored an unbelievable goal. Members of the team and fans who watch closely knew that Johnson had it in him. He is fast, has good technique and showed potential at the Academy level.
This was Johnson’s first professional goal, as he only started five of his seven USL appearances. Still, Johnson proved last year that he has grown as a player and should stay with the second team. He signed with TFC II on January 5 of this year and know could be a viable off-the-bench option for Jason Bent’s team, or could even have a spot in the starting XI.
However, it is only one goal and he still has to do a little bit more to earn praise from the first team. Still, Johnson looks be more matured, and after talking to him before the season, he wants to grow more as a player.
Alex Bono stepped up again
Two weeks ago, Bono helped TFC II earn a draw against a Brandon Allen driven NYRB II team. This week, the Syracuse grad again played exceptionally well against a tricky FC Montreal side.
Bono was the odd man out when Greg Vanney decided to pick Canadian Quillan Roberts over him as the clubs second goalie. Bono doesn’t look to be fazed much by that decsion, as he has played a key role in why TFC II has four points in two games.
The 22-year-old is somewhat of a ‘veteran’ on the team, so he has helped players around him get more familiarized with the league and the pressure along with it. In the clubs first two matches, Bono has been able to stand up tall and bail out his teammates. He may not be the flashiest of goalie’s, but he gets the job done.
If his play keeps up, then I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a call up and Roberts get’s sent down for match minutes.
Raheem Edwards could be seeing first team minutes
I know that may seem far fetch, but listening to people talk about it, Edwards does have a case to earn first team minutes. Now, injuries and international commitments can happen and players can move up and down, which could allow a player like Edwards a chance. Toronto FC isn’t afraid to give rookies a chance, considering former TFC II winger Molham Babouli and 2016 first round pick Tsuabasa Endoh have earned valuable first team minutes.
Edwards is capable of playing on the wing and his speed is an advantage for him and his team. He is also pretty strong for a player his size. I am not saying expect to see Edwards called up this season, but if he can continue his fine form, then maybe next year Edwards will be TFC II’s next player to join the first team.