Beleaguered central defender Doneil Henry scored the game winner deep into stoppage time to help earn three crucial points for Toronto FC.
TORONTO — In years past, if a late goal was scored at BMO Field to decide a game it was usually the visitors that were the ones celebrating.
But on Saturday, Toronto FC was the beneficiary of a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes as the Reds came from behind to defeat the Columbus Crew 3-2.
Doneil Henry nodded home the winner deep into stoppage time after Jermain Defoe had notched a brace for TFC, with the young defender's goal sending the Toronto faithful home happy.
It was a bit of redemption for Henry, as the 21-year-old has come under fire in recent weeks for committing a number of costly errors that have hurt his team in several games.
"It's the horrible beauty of football, isn't it? One day you're the villain and one day you're the hero," TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said of Henry after the match. "What he'll learn, and generally at centre back — especially as a young player who's a centre back — the highs and the lows are very high and very low."
Nelsen credits Henry for keeping a positive attitude throughout the recent rough patch, during which the defender conceded penalties in three straight MLS games.
"No matter what happens to him in the past, and whatever people say about him ... he still puts himself on that field and he still tries his hardest to win for his club and his fans," Nelsen said.
MATCH REPORT: Toronto FC 3-2 Columbus Crew
For his part, Henry said that he never took the criticism from fans and media personally. Rather, he used it as further motivation to improve.
"When you have your negative days, you can either let it eat you and you can be a timid person or you can stand up like a man and just embrace it and just try and work on yourself," Henry said. "I just want to come in every day and be positive and try and eliminate some of the mistakes that I would usually make."
As for the game, both Henry and his coach agreed that TFC of previous years likely would have wilted away after giving up the go-ahead goal to the Crew in the 65th minute. Despite playing an "ugly" match by Nelsen's own admission, Toronto found the goals that earned it a three huge points against an Eastern Conference rival.
"Until that whistle blows you've got to keep going and keep pressing and your opportunities will come," Henry said. "I think the more hungry you are, and the more desire and passion that you show for your team and for the fans, it pays off."