Truth be told, for most of this game the homegrown left-back wasn’t quite racking up the impressive stats he’s been this season, influenced in no small part by the tenacity common at GEODIS Park: 17/26 passing (65 ) %), 2/6 on crosses, only one corner taken, 3/5 duels won, four defensive actions and six recoveries.
Steady numbers, sure, just backed up by the non-stop, reliably high usage and work rate he’s made a habit of. But that pales in comparison to the clutch thinking he displayed when Nashville won a stoppage-time penalty to offer the Red Bulls a lifeline as they tried to extend their Audi MLS Cup playoff streak to an MLS-record 14 straight years.
Despite never having previously taken a penalty in his three seasons as an MLS regular, JMi stepped up to the spot and calmly slotted the ball into the right corner to clinch a place in the playoffs (and a Team of the Day presented by Audi nod, as it came into light). Tolkin then issued a tasty rebuttal “to all the haters” a few minutes later. This kid just has it: