TORONTO - Toronto FC coach Ryan Nelsen said the 2-2 draw against the Chicago Fire Saturday felt like more of a loss as his squad surrendered two one-goal leads.
Gilberto gave Toronto a 2-1 lead in the 79th minute, but the home side was unable to hold on as Quincy Amarikwa tied it at 2-2 in the 90th minute.
"A year ago, we would've enjoyed a 2-2 draw," Nelsen said. "But we've moved on and… the guys are absolutely gutted, this feels like a big loss."
With the draw, Toronto has picked up points in three of its last four games and improve to 3-8-7 all-time against Chicago.
A Fire own goal in the first half accounted for Toronto's other goal on the night while former TFC forward Robert Earnshaw also scored for Chicago (4-6-14).
TFC (9-8-6) forward Luke Moore sprung Gilberto, who stepped around Chicago keeper Sean Johnson before depositing his fourth goal of the season.
Amarikwa put a cross from Lovel Palmer past a diving Joe Bendik in the final minute to earn the draw.
"That second goal was horrendous, to tell you the truth," said Nelsen. "We were spectators, we kind of watched the play and in the end it was a deflection bicycle kick that fell to (Amarikwa) and they punished us.
"But we weren't in the right spot We had guys just watching."
Earnshaw, who was making his Fire debut, erased a 1-0 deficit in the 70th minute after being subbed in for Sanna Nyassi. On a Grant Ward cross, Earnshaw dove through the area getting his head on the ball to tie the game 1-1.
"It's like I haven't been away," said Earnshaw, who spent the 2013 season in Toronto. "Maybe just because it is a familiar ground and a pace I am very fond of.
"The goal I scored was a welcome to Chicago but also a thank you very much to Toronto."
A Bakary Soumare own goal gave Toronto an early 1-0 lead in the first half.
Justin Morrow's cross deflected off the Chicago defender and past Fire keeper Sean Johnson in the third minute giving the home side an early advantage.
In the fifth minute, Gilberto had an excellent chance to give the home side a two-goal lead off a Dominic Oduro through ball, but Johnson got enough to deflect it wide
Steven Caldwell was subbed out in the 22nd minute after he appeared to aggravate the quad injury, which sidelined him for the Reds the previous seven games. Caldwell was replaced by defender Doneil Henry and went straight to the Toronto dressing room.
"Steven had a really good week of training and then he just felt his same quad, he just felt it on one of the stretches that he made, which he probably made 50 times during this week," said Nelsen. "Luckily it wasn't as bad as the original one, it was something that we had to pull him off because it was only going to get worse."
Nelsen called the Caldwell injury unsettling for his group.
"It's hard to see your captain go down," agreed Jonathan Osorio. "I thought Doneil came in and did really well to be honest, it was just two mistakes where we lacked concentration.
"It ended up costing us two points."
Moments later, Jermain Defoe appeared to be sent in all alone on a through ball from Gilberto, but the play was called off side much to the dismay of the English striker.
Defoe, who was appearing in his first match sine July 30, returned from a groin injury and showed no ill-effects running well early.
Toronto's injury troubles continued in the second half as Morrow left the game in the 58th minute.
"I felt it on a longer run right at the beginning of the second half," said Morrow. "I'll get in on Monday and get a scan and see how it is, but I don't think it should be too bad."
As a result, with the Reds leading 1-0, Nelsen elected to sub Jackson into the game over a more defensive-minded Bradley Orr. According to the coach, they were pushing for a win.
"It's a situation where we put ourselves in a really nice position, we're up 2-1, to win the game. We're at home, we're playing against a team, we're on top and we want to win the game.
"If we had won the game, 2-1, everyone would be calling it a good decision."
Defender Mark Bloom, who missed six games with a MCL strain, also returned from injury Saturday.
The third and final meeting between the two sides goes Sept. 13 at Toyota Park.
Notes: Outgoing MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke was in attendance Saturday evening to ensure the Red Patch Boys completed their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.