By Jerry Mancini.
Toronto FC let three points slip away against DC United after holding a 2-0 at half-time. United were down a man for the entire second half and trailed 2-0 for nearly 85 minutes following an Ayo Akinola brace, but late goals from Federico Higuaín and Frederic Brillant secured a point for DC.
The game will be seen as two points dropped for Toronto FC, but the performance by Pablo Piatti, who played over 70 minutes, should not be overshadowed.
His highly anticipated debut for Toronto finally arrived and the Argentine gave coaching staff and fans a taste of what to expect in future matches.
Really good debut from Pablo Piatti operating on the right side. Told me last week he needs more time to feel comfortable on that flank but as a playmaking provider who comes inside he combined well with Pozuelo which could become an excellent partnership Via @StatsZone #tfclive pic.twitter.com/Nz1ORtw9gv
— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) July 13, 2020
Piatti was signed as a designated player in February and came to the club with high expectations. The left-wing was a weakness for Toronto last season. Head coach Greg Vanney consistently rotated players in the position but struggled to find someone to provide stability.
Piatti’s experience in La Liga, where he played for teams such as Valencia and Espanyol, will surely help the team.
“We need him to stretch the opposition defensively, both by trying to get to the space behind them, but also sometimes staying out on the sideline, and to give us some one-on-one [threat],” Vanney of the 31-year-old.
“He’s a very talented player, has a pedigree to go with it, but what our team needs is something very specific. Hopefully, he can bring that.”
Piatti adds creativity, dynamism and is a threat in the final third. He didn’t manage to score in his debut but did offer some strong qualities which should help TFC.
Throughout the match, he made decisive runs, created space for Akinola, and managed four shots of his own, though none found the target.
Piatti appeared to have good chemistry with Alejandro Pozuelo in the first half. The midfielder’s speed, creativity and ability to make quick, crisp passes was ideal for the Argentine, who played from the right-wing in this game.
They play a similar style of football, as they possess good footwork, quick movement with or without the ball, and have the ability to beat defenders one on one. This posed a problem for the United’s defence and will do so for future opposition.
Pablo Piatti arrives at #TorontoFC but what can fans expect? 🇨🇦🇦🇷⚽️
✍️ @jmancini8 https://t.co/QcsAwBOUDL
— World Football Index (@WorldFootballi) February 20, 2020
Piatti’s speed is his biggest advantage and he drew three fouls, with one resulting in a yellow card for Junior Moreno.
His ability to quickly react on the counter-attack will create chances to score on the break, or via set-pieces through the free-kicks he wins.
“Pablo has shown, in the last few weeks as we’ve ramped up training and started to get closer to real games, that he has real quality,” said TFC captain Michael Bradley.
“He has a good mentality, he works, he can, obviously, attack and dribble by guys.”
“Early on we were trying to figure out the best way to use him. Lately, he’s found a really good way to combine with Auro, with Pozuelo, on the right-hand side.
“The three of them have a really good understanding and you saw some of that today. As he and we all get fitter and sharper, you’ll see more and more of that.”
A concern had been his health and injury record, meaning the signing was seen as something as a risk for the club, but now finally fit and fully recovered, this will be a fresh start for Piatti who hopes to build something special with Toronto FC.