VIAREGGIO, Italy â€” Substitute Kunle Dada-Luke scored in the 72nd minute to give Toronto FC’s senior academy side a 1-1 tie with defending champion Juventus at the Viareggio Cup youth tournament Wednesday.
It marked the second straight game that the academy side, known as Toronto FC 3, had to rally after conceding early.
Toronto gave up goals in the second and fourth minutes to Italy’s S.S. Maceratese on Monday, eventually tying the game 3-3 on a goal by Brandon Onkony deep into stoppage time.
On Wednesday, Toronto fell behind 1-0 in the seventh minute. Dada-Luke tied the game 17 minutes after coming in off the bench.
“We’re obviously very proud of the team,” said coach Danny Dichio. “Happy with the performance, the response after having a game two days ago. But also with a little tinge of disappointment because we felt we had enough chances in the game and there were parts of the game after the first 10 minutes or so where we were really dominant.
“I think we shocked our opponent at times … We asked the boys to go out there and believe. And they definitely did that today and showed that they can compete against the champions of this competition.”
Toronto is the first MLS side take part at the prestigious competition, now in its 69th edition.
Dichio’s under-20 academy team has been augmented with captain Liam Fraser and four other Toronto FC 2 players.
Toronto closes out group play against Dukla Prague on Saturday. The Czech team lost 2-0 to Maceratese on Tuesday.
Juventus and Maceratese lead the group with four points. Toronto has two and Dukla Prague none.
There are 10 groups at the tournament, with the top two from each advancing to a single-elimination knockout round.
Toronto FC III
Gianluca Catalano, Steven Furlano, Brandon Onkony, Robert Boskovic, Andrew Dias, Aidan Daniels (Matthew Srbely 69th minute), Luca Uccello, Liam Fraser (capt,) Marco Mandekic (Nicholas Osorio 69th), Malik Johnson (Kota Sakurai 90th), Shaan Hundal (Kunle Dada-Luke 55th).
The Canadian Press