TORONTO — The heartbreaking late-game losses continue to mount for Toronto FC, even with a new head coach at the helm of the struggling Major Soccer League club.
A goal in extra time from substitute Anderson Julio gave Real Salt Lake a 1-0 win to spoil interim coach Terry Dunfield's debut for TFC on Saturday.
"It's a tough one to swallow for sure," the 41-year-old Dunfield said. "I thought that the guys gave me everything. The guys in that change room could be really proud of their performance."
Dunfield was lured to the interim position by TFC president Bill Manning on Monday, replacing veteran soccer coach Bob Bradley, the father of injured TFC captain Michael Bradley.
Manning has a shortlist of permanent candidates that includes Dunfield, but the TFC president remarked earlier in the week that Dunfield would coach at least four games.
Dunfield, a former Canadian international midfielder who also played for TFC and his hometown Vancouver Whitecaps, had four training sessions before his first game at the helm in front of 26,694 at BMO Field.
"What surprised me when I spoke to the group afterwards was how hard they are on themselves, and (the players felt) we needed to work harder and give everything (they've) got.
"But my feedback was 'you guys gave everything.' It was special to see in just four days."
The youthful-looking Dunfield, who wore a navy sweater hoodie, grey slacks and running shoes on the sideline, employed a 4-4-2 formation. Bradley used a 4-3-3 look.
"I wanted to amplify what we have in our locker room, and there's some quality in there for sure," Dunfield said. "But also, looking at Salt Lake a little bit too, I felt like this was the best way to go at them."
While TFC (3-8-10) extended its winless streak to 0-3-3, Real Salt Lake (8-7-6) extended its road streak to a club record 8-0-2 in all competitions.
Julio's rebound found the bottom left corner two minutes into extra time. The goal came off a corner kick.
After TFC defender Aime Mabika cleared an attempt off the line, Julio smashed in the rebound.
"Football is a cool game," TFC defender Kobe Franklin said. "And we've had our share of cruel moments this year."
The debut of 16-year-old Lazar Stefanovic of Oakville, Ont., was a moment that had the home crowd buzzing. He subbed in for veteran Shane O'Neill in the 57th minute.
The visiting side came close late in regulation time. Braian Ojeda whistled a shot from outside the box just wide of the left post off a corner kick in the 80th minute.
TFC keeper Greg Ranjitsingh made a big stop on Diego Luna three minutes later, even though Damir Kreilach was caught offside.
TFC came on in the second half and almost connected for the game's first goal in the 69th minute.
Substitute Alonso Coello hit the right post after Brandon Servania's pass deflected to Coello just outside the box.
C.J. Sapong was inside the box four minutes later, spun around and drilled a shot over the Real Salt Lake goal.
Ranjitsingh kept the match scoreless with an excellent save on Luna's shot from outside the box in the 61st minute.
To begin the second half, TFC forward Lorenzo Insigne was replaced by 19-year-old Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty of Brampton, Ont. Insigne appeared hobbled late in the opening 45 minutes.
TFC was missing four players because of international duties in the Gold Cup. Richie Layrea and Jonathan Orsio were with Canada, while goalie Sean Johnson and Tomas Romero were with the United States and El Salvador, respectively.
TFC visits Orlando City (7-7-5) on Tuesday, while Real Salt Lake returns home to take its turn against Orlando on Saturday.
"We had three points taken from us on Canada Day," Franklin said. "So we're going to go and try and take three points from the Americans on July 4."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2023.
Tim Wharnsby, The Canadian Press