TFC looked well on its way to a rare win at BMO Field on Wednesday night until it allowed a 3-1 halftime lead end up as a 3-3 draw with the visiting Montreal Impact. The single point felt very much like a loss for Toronto, which controlled much of the play aside from three momentary defensive lapses that led to Impact goals.
"Five minutes of madness lost the win for us," Reds captain Darren O'Dea told reporters after the match. "It's tough to take. We move on, we have to. We can't keep saying we've been the better team. We've been the better team in a lot of games this year and not one point.
"Sooner rather than later it'll turn if we keep playing like we did for large spells of the game."
The derby saw Montreal jump out to a lead within the first 30 seconds of the match as an O'Dea mistake gifted Andres Romero a free shot on goal before most of the crowd had filed into the stadium.
The TFC captain knew he had to "put it right" after making such a gaffe, and he did just that when he capped off an 18-minute spell which saw Toronto storm back for three straight goals. The Irishman slotted home in the 24th minute to put TFC up by two, and it looked like the home side would cruise to its first multiple-goal win of the season.
"We had them on their knees, if you like," said O'Dea, who helped hold the normally high-flying Impact at bay for most of the match. "I think maybe if we're a little bit more clinical we'd finish them off, but we kind of let them back up and they've obviously got quality players that can do that.
"It's on us. It's not really what they did, it's what we did."
What Toronto did was miss a number of opportunities to finish off the game, as even a two-goal lead against an attack-laden team like Montreal is never truly safe. And in the 69th and 70th minutes, the Impact did what they do best by putting away any opportunities afforded to them.
"They punished naive mistakes by us," TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen stated bluntly. "[We] had the opportunities to get the fourth goal, didn't we? Had lots of them to get that fourth goal and end the game and we just didn't do it."
That TFC was able to score three goals in a single match for the first time this season was a bit of a minor miracle, but given that this Toronto squad is not known for giving up a lot of goals either made Wednesday's draw especially hard to swallow for Nelsen and his players.
"Three goals [against], I'm extremely disappointed about," Nelsen said. "We haven't conceded three all season and that hurts me horrendously."
"The way they were given up were really, really soft kind of goals," he continued. "We handed them a wee bit too them. As Toronto Football Club, under my watch, we take a lot of pride in not conceding many goals, so that hurts."