TFC II will look to earn their second win of the season when they head home to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
After two matches, TFC II have mustered up four points. It may be very early on in the 2016 USL season, but so far the club is showing a lot more confidence this time around. When TFC II midfielder Raheem Edwards spoke to the media, he expressed that the experience from last year has really helped the team mature this time around. “We feel better as a team, individually and collectively.
“We go into games knowing that we have to be sharp for all ninety minutes.”
The young Reds went to Montreal and aimed to take down their fierce rivals that finished ahead of them in the East last season. “We had a game plan from the beginning of the game and stuck to it,” said Edwards, whose goal in the 84th minute was enough to seal a 2-1 win.
Edwards also praised teammate Malik Johnson, whose tremendous solo run from the half line gave TFC II the lead in the second half and earned him a spot on the USL’s goals of the week list. “Malik is blessed with very fast feet, so you guys got a taste of that. We see that in practice here and there,” said Edwards.
“It was a huge boost for the team,” said head coach Jason Bent, who knew Johnson was capable of that goal and stated how important it was for the team to get on the board first.
A modest Johnson said it was a good goal, but mentioned he has to pick and choose his moments and be a team player as well. “It’s not always ‘get the ball and start running at the defence.’ You need to find your teammates as well.”
The match on Saturday also saw Toronto FC Kia Academy player Shaan Hundal earn his first professional start, as he impressed the coaching staff after an impressive Generation Adidas Cup performance a couple weeks ago. Bent would praise Hundal and said more players from the Academy could find their way onto the roster.
“I thought he did well for a 16-year-old in his professional debut. He holds up the ball to bring in others and makes quite a few fantastic runs off the ball to threaten the space behind,” said Bent.
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TFC II will be welcoming the Pittsburgh Riverhounds on Sunday as they open up their home to a team that dominated them last season. Going into the match, it seems the young Reds do have the upper hand considering the Riverhounds have only played once this season, as their last game was postponed due to a snowstorm.
However, head coach Jason Bent doesn’t think the Riverhounds will be lacking anything come Sunday. Bent recalled his team having a bye-week before their match against FC Montreal and they were able to grab three points from that one.
The Riverhounds will be without captain Kevin Kerr who won’t be accompanying his team due to travel restrictions. Bent responded to that news with some humour. “Brilliant, glad he is not there. He was a thorn in our side, along with Rob Vincent last year so I am delighted I won’t have to see him this weekend.”
In three matches against TFC II, Kerr was able to score twice while also being a dominant force in the midfield, winning balls and being able to set up his teammates in dangerous areas. The Riverhounds took the season series 3-0 and outscored the young Reds 10-2.
The Riverhounds may have showed their dominance last season, but a number of their best players have left the club, including leading scorer Rob Vincent who is now with D.C. United. Johnson mentioned that it is important for the team to go home and impress the fans, since the team was unable to win a lot at the Ontario Soccer Centre last season. “A good win for us will be good for the fans. We have to focus on the game this weekend against Pittsburgh.”