Toronto FC recorded a historic victory on Saturday afternoon, blanking Kansas City Wizards 2-0 on Amado Guevara’s brace to move above .500 for the first time in the club’s short history.
As the sun struggled to push past The result marked a third straight win for the Canadian side, another first, and ensured John Carver’s men are on maximum points so far into a five-game home stand. The young side had snared two straight wins at BMO Field early last season and repeated that feat in recent weeks, moving to .500 with two wins and two losses in the run-up to Saturday’s encounter.
Just as the summer sun was struggling to break through the overcast conditions, Toronto started the match on the offensive, propelled by the vocal BMO Field crowd.
Guevara nearly opened the scoring early on when his left-footed strike was pushed away by an alert Kevin Hartman. The Wizards keeper was hoping to build on the clean sheet league record he cemented a week before in a 1-0 win at Chicago, and through the first half he looked well on course to add to his 65 career shutouts.
With Rohan Ricketts terrorizing the Kansas City defence as he switched from left to right, it wasn’t long before the English winger found countryman Danny Dichio wide open in the area. Dichio slotted home but the striker’s cool finish was called back for offside. Replays appeared to justify the official’s decision, showing Dichio just a few steps ahead of the last defender.
Despite the relentless assault on their opponent’s goal, Toronto’s backline had to stay alert, with Marco Vélez in particular feeding off the enthusiasm of the south end crowd. Wizards attacker Claudio López was showing the kind of skill that made him a fan favourite at Lazio in Italy, controlling the ball well and looking for teammates.
TFC’s backline managed to shut out the Argentine forward through the first half, with their collective performance ensuring that the backline stayed intact at halftime despite the presence of new signing Olivier Tébily on the Toronto bench.
“I mean, look at López,” Carver told MLSNet after the game. “He’s a world class player, so that tells you something about our defense, our midfield players and our front end who defended and kept him quiet.”
Toronto again started the second half with an attacking verve, but it looked as though Kansas City had come to earn a point and were going to be difficult to break down. It needed a stroke of luck for Toronto, but their offensive spirit finally paid off at the hour mark.
Marvell Wynne made a typically marauding run down the right flank and his scuffed pass bounced off a Wizards defender and fell right at the feet of Guevara. The Honduran kept his concentration and buried the ball past Hartman, cueing raucous celebrations in the south end as the linesman’s flag stayed down.
Wizards coach Curt Onalfo immediately brought on more attacking talent, with ex-Middlesbrough ace Carlos Marinelli and Sasha Victorine joining the fray.
Buoyed by the goal, Toronto pushed for a second and nearly paid for it just minutes later, with López drawing Greg Sutton out before finding an unmarked Ivan Trujillo in front of the open goal. Trujillo steadied himself and fired a low shot, but the 6’6″ Sutton dove across the face of the goal and was able to make the save.
“You know my job is try and keep these games in our pockets,” Sutton told the club’s website after the final whistle. “Our guys did a great job today, defensively, again. I think we’ve grown [in] leaps and bounds from the first couple of games.”
If Sutton and Guevara were competing for man-of-the-match honours at that stage, Guevara was intent to upstage his teammate. The midfielder won a free-kick 20 yards from Hartman’s goal and stood over it with Laurent Robert, an increasingly deadly combination that may lack the precision of David Beckham but more than makes up for it in variety.
With Hartman and the Kansas City wall expecting a Robert piledriver, Guevara calmly stepped up and dispatched a curling shot off the near post and in. The strike marked Toronto’s first two-goal lead since last season’s 4-0 rout of FC Dallas and the first two-goal performance by a single player in club history.
“Laurent and I usually look at the ball and the position and who has the better shot at the net,” Guevara told MLSNet later. “Last week it was Laurent, and this week, he looked at me and told me I had a better shot. I took it and thankfully it went to the right place.”
With the local hockey team and MLSE affiliate Toronto Maple Leafs missing out on the NHL postseason and the basketball franchise the Toronto Raptors on the brink of a playoff elimination of their own, TFC’s recent momentum has taken the Queen City by storm.
Carver, Guevara and the rest of the side will hope to carry that momentum over to Thursday night, when Red Bull New York visit BMO Field for the third of five straight home games for Toronto. Guevara will be one day shy of his 33rd birthday but the only thing on the Honduran’s mind will be helping his new club gain maximum points from their home stand and keeping up the club’s 100% home record so far in 2008.