Archive | Match Reports

Rapids overpower Toronto FC

Posted on 19 April 2010 by pshea

A compact 4-4-2 wrestled another stingy 4-4-2 when the Colorado Rapids beat Toronto FC 3-1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Sunday afternoon. With three penalty kicks and a free kick from outside the box, none of the goals came during the flow of play.

Conor Casey scored two from the spot, and Jeff Larentowicz exploited a leak in the wall to score the game-winner with a free kick in the 71st minute. Dwayne De Rosario scored the penalty kick for Toronto FC to tie the game in the 58th minute, but it was the only shot on goal for the visitors all afternoon.

“I really thought we attacked the game the way I wanted,” Colorado head coach Gary Smith said. “That energy and intention in our game, I felt, was the difference in the game.”

The Rapids maintained an attacking edge from the opening whistle, but a 10-minute lapse early in the second half gave the visitors the equalizer and hopes for a point or more. But Smith’s substitutes added zest to the Rapids’ attack, and Preki’s replacements did not elevate the game.

“Wells [Thompson] and Quincy [Amarikwa] came on and gave us extra energy,” Smith noted. “Wells certainly showed some flashes of real good wing play. He ran well with the ball. Quincy gave the crowd a lift. He’s an all-action player.”

Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni showed empathy for the Toronto FC defenders.

“The last thing you want to see is someone with skill coming at you fast at that point in the game,” Mastroeni said.

Overall, Smith was pleased with the victory and the team defense, but the “final ball” needs work.

Four players on the Toronto FC roster played for Colorado in recent years, and all of them got on the field. Nick LaBrocca started on the right flank and played for an hour.

“We’re adjusting to each other,” LaBrocca said of his new team. He said coach Preki “wants me to get on the ball and link with everybody to keep possession.”

Recovering from knee surgery, former Rapids attacker Jacob Peterson replaced LaBrocca on the right side.

“My knee feels good,” Peterson said, “but it’s going to take a while. I feel one step slow.”

Ty Harden played the full game at left back, and Dan Gargan replaced Martin Saric in the 80th minute to push for another equalizer.

The goals, the gist
In the 19th minute, Jamie Smith pushed a perfectly weighted pass between two defenders and Omar Cummings fired a cross toward an open Conor Casey in front of the goal. But Nana Attakora headed it out for a corner. Colin Clark swerved the in-swinger too far for a Toronto throw-in.

Four minutes later, Mastroeni flicked a header forward to Clark, who sent a first-time pass to Omar Cummings on the right wing. Cummings took on Adrian Cann, who slipped in the box when Cummings cut back. Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot, and Cann pointed to his own head, indicating that the ball had not touched his arm.

Casey stood with his customary short approach for the penalty kick, and Stefan Frei anticipated a shot to his left. But Casey froze Frei and chipped the ball right down the middle for the game’s first goal.

Saric fired a shot two minutes later, but Larentowicz deflected it. Saric pushed a ball forward to Chad Barrett not long after his shot, but Matt Pickens left his line in time to clear the ball away.

Early in the second half, Marvell Wynne stuffed Barrett, and moments later he ran down De Rosario to prevent a one-on-one with Pickens.

In the 58th minute, Barrett turned with the ball to find Sam Cronin alone in the box. Pickens came out but fouled Cronin on the cut. De Rosario slammed the penalty kick in the left corner, millimeters beyond the outstretched hand of Pickens.

In the 63rd minute, four Rapids players combined and forced Frei to make one of his six saves of the afternoon. Mastroeni pushed the ball forward to Casey on the left side, and Casey sent it wide to Clark. Clark’s cross across the box found an open Cummings, but Frei stopped the header.

Attacking from the left in the 71st minute, Thompson earned a free kick for Colorado just outside the box. Larentowicz faced a four-man wall, but when Julian de Guzman jumped out of the way, Larentowicz fired the ball in the lower left corner for the game-winner.

Cummings carried the ball from the right flank into the center of the field. When Toronto defenders collapsed on him, he pushed it to Thompson in the left side of the box. Frei read Thompson’s push to the far post and kept the game at 2-1.

Casey flicked the ball to Amarikwa, but Frei came up with another save.

In the 85th minute, Larentowics suffered a foul wide on the right wing. He took the kick and sent a long ball into the box. Maksim Usanov brought down Casey, who then lined up for his second penalty kick. Casey fired the ball in the left corner to seal the victory.

Assessing his star striker, coach Smith said, “His general play was his best performance of the season, no doubt. He showed very good quality. He moved the ball quickly. He showed more intensity. He was physically dominating.”

Player ratings
Toronto FC
Stefan Frei (7): With 9 of Colorado’s 14 shots on goal, Frei came up with six saves. You can’t blame him for letting in two penalty kicks and a shot through the wall.
Nana Attakora (6): Showing solid defending (yet limited attacking), Attakora did a good job in the middle. Jamie Smith slipped a well-weighted pass to Omar Cummings in the early minutes of the game, and Attakora headed away the cross from Cummings with Conor Casey open in front of the net.
Adrian Cann (5): Cann also limited chances in the middle of Colorado’s attack. With about 15 minutes to play, Cann missed a head clear, and Amarikwa ran on to the ball but missed wide right.
Ty Harden (5): One of four former Rapids players on the Toronto FC roster, Harden played steady in the back, but he didn’t attack as much as he did for Colorado last season.
Maksim Usanov (5): Usanov contained Colin Clark and other attacks down the left wing, but he also fouled Casey in the box for the third penalty kick of the game.
Julian de Guzman (3): Guzman moved well throughout the game, but he should have stayed still when he was part of a four-man wall. Instead, Guzman jumped, and Larentowicz slipped the ball through the hole for the game-winner.
Nick LaBrocca, 60 minutes (5): Playing wide, LaBrocca had a steady game, but he didn’t force the Rapids on their heels.
Jacob Peterson, 30 minutes (5): Peterson brought some energy to the game for Toronto FC, and he fired a shot wide right for the visitors (one of four shots from his team).
Sam Cronin (5): Cronin earned the penalty kick by swerving past Pickens in the box, but he didn’t shoot all afternoon, and he seldom got to the line to send in crosses.
Martin Saric, 80 minutes (4): Saric fired the first shot for Toronto (deflected by Larentowicz), but he also went on a rabid fouling spree at the close of the first half and received a yellow card.
Dan Gargan, 10 minutes (5): Gargan replaced Saric and pushed into the attack more forcefully in search of a second goal for the visitors.
Chad Barrett, 66 minutes (5): With Kosuke Kimura on his back in the 58th minute, Barrett quickly turned and found an open Sam Cronin for a one-v-one with Pickens, ultimately leading to a penalty kick.
O’Brien White, 24 minutes (4): White did not elevate play when he replaced Barrett, and he didn’t register any shots.
Dwayne De Rosario (5): Other than scoring the penalty kick, De Rosario didn’t have much impact on the game. He registered two shots (wide right before halftime and the penalty kick goal), but he had to retreat deep into the Toronto defense to get the ball for creating attacks.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens (6): Although the only shot on goal from the visitors was De Rosario’s penalty kick in the 58th minute, Pickens handled two crosses that were sure goals, and he came off his line to clear a breakaway.
Kosuke Kimura (5): Other than gambling to press Barrett while leaving Cronin open behind him, Kimura played a solid game in the back.
Drew Moor (7): Moor dominated in the air and on the ground, and he distributed the ball wisely.
Marvell Wynne (7): Wynne drew “ooohs” from the crowd when he ran like a cheetah and made De Rosario look like a turtle early in the second half. He also made an athletic stab to keep the ball from Cronin in the first half, and he battled effectively.
Danny Earls, 83 minutes (5): Earls didn’t contribute to the attack as he has in recent games, sending the ball long for safety more often than not.
Scott Palguta, 7 minutes (4): With 10 minutes of action, Palguta played the ball long out of the back when he could have eaten more of the clock with a simple pass to Casey or Thompson.
Pablo Mastroeni (6): Captain Mastroeni secured the middle with Larentowicz and won the majority of his tackles.
Jeff Larentowicz (8): In addition to scoring the game-winning goal and shooting more than anyone for Colorado, Larentowicz deflected a shot from Martin Saric in the 26th minute. He also continued to plug the middle of the field with Mastroeni.
Colin Clark, 68 minutes (6): Clark blasted a shot wide right in the eighth minute and traded sides with Jamie Smith to mix up the flank attack.
Quincy Amarikwa, 22 minutes (6): Amarikwa brought energy and pace to the game and squelched hopes for an easy ending for the visitors.
Jamie Smith, 59 minutes (5): As coach Smith noted, Smith showed excellent technique and decisions except for many of the finishing passes. His weighted through-ball to Cummings in the first half, however, was excellent service.
Wells Thompson, 31 minutes (6): With attacking runs, Thompson put the visitors on their heels. Thompson put both of his shots on goal, and his swerving dribble outside the box earned the free kick for the game-winner from Larentowicz.
Conor Casey (7): Although Casey’s only two shots were the penalty kick goals, he had his best performance of the season so far. He flicked headers to Cummings and Clark, and he held the ball at his feet.
Omar Cummings (7): Cummings created the first penalty kick and forced the visitors to defend. Frei saved both shots from Cummings. When Amarikwa came on with 25 minutes of play remaining, Cummings moved to the wide flank spot and showed deadly wing play to increase the pressure on the Toronto defenders.

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Crew kick start Trillium cup and 2010 season

Posted on 28 March 2010 by jzidar

The Columbus Crew has hosted Toronto FC for the home opener the past three seasons.  The first game of the two game Trillium Cup series took place at Columbus Crew Stadium Saturday evening, March 27.  In the three years since TFC joined the MLS they have never managed to defeat the Crew and nothing changed today as they fell 2-0 in the house that Lamar built.

Thanks to goals by Andy Iro and Guillermo Barros Schelotto the Crew start the 2010 campaign with three points.







Bench: Schoeni, Renteria, Padula, Ekpo, Garey, Herrera, Burns,




—Saric–De Guzman–Cronin-Gala—

———–White—De Rosario———-

Bench: Conway, Gargan, LaBrocca, Sanyang, Ibrahim

The back line was a little of a surprise. Most pregame predictions would have put Iro on the bench rather than starting in the center.  This surprise move pushed O’Rourke to the outside and gave Padula a rest.  “I didn’t want to change the team that played against Toluca,” said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha.  “We had good momentum in Toluca so that was the reason I went with the same today.”  The decision was most likely attributed to the rock solid defensive play of Iro and the offensive pushes made by O’Rourke in quarterfinal games of the CONCACAF Champions League. Warzycha had this to say about Iro’s performance, “The whole defense played well. Andy, because they played through the air, that suits his game. I think he was very clean and he scored a nice goal, so that is always a bonus.”

O’Rourke was a menace on the wing all afternoon, overlapping with Rogers and playing solid defense. He came up big in the closing minutes with a block on a wide open De Guzman volley and proceeded to race down the field and force the give away that lead to the Schelotto goal.  “Danny did well, the second goal that we scored was pretty good. That was a great effort by him and good for Guillermo.”

Player Ratings

Scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest

Hesmer:  7 
Nothing to do in the first half but came up with some big saves in the second half to keep the clean sheet.

Hejduk: 6 
Typical solid performance. Got forward and provided crosses and overlapping runs without leaving Brunner alone to cover the right side.

Brunner: 5
Did well in the absence of his mentor, Marshall. His lack of speed presented itself as the game wore on.

Iro: 8 
Played flawlessly.  Appears to be in better form than Brunner, will be interesting to see who gets the start in the back with Marshall when he returns. Scored the crucial first goal that gave the team confidence.

O’rourke: 8 
Ran like the energizer bunny. His offensive pressure lead to the second goal.

Gaven: 5 
His first touch seemed off and he often got caught with the ball under him. Held the ball longer than he should have in a couple cases.

Carroll: 6 
Helped clog up the middle and stopped TFC from getting into the Crew’s end.

Moffat: 6 
Assisted Carroll in defending the center of the park. Didn’t make as much noise in the offensive end as he should have.

Rogers: 6 
Exploited TFC’s weak back line during the second half but couldn’t seem to pull the trigger.

Schelotto: 7 
As the second forward he wasn’t able to set his teammates up as well as when he is in a central mid position but he did pester the back line and his work almost paid off when he collected a poorly placed back pass only to be stopped by an on rushing Frei.

Lenhart: 6 
A big physical presence that had no problem shoving around the TFC defense. Had a moment of madness early when he hacked down a defender but luckily didn’t receive a yellow.  Didn’t really connect with GBS.

Warzycha: 8 
His only two changes to the predicted starting 11 proved to be the work of a genius when both Iro and O’Rourke created goals.  Probably shouldn’t have waited so long to make substitutions.

(Padula and Garey were the only two subs but they both came on too late to really have any impact in the match.)

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Never say die attitude keeps Champions League dream alive

Posted on 10 March 2010 by jzidar

Tuesday night at Crew Stadium the 4402 fans in attendance were treated to a blast from the (recent) past.  If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were watching the Crew team from 2008.  On their path to the Supporters Shield and MLS Cup triumph, that year’s squad made a name for itself with dramatic, come-from-behind victories.  The end result Tuesday may not have been actual victory, but the Black and Gold showed they can still pull off late game heroics.

The starting lineup was not exactly what everyone expected, but wasn’t too far off pre-game predictions either:






The back four were wholly predictably considering there really weren’t any other bodies to take their place.  The middle of the park was also predictable. The only real surprise was the forward pairing of Steven Lenhart and Emmanuel Ekpo.  Ekpo is generally one of three players challenging for time on the wing but is rarely used as a target striker. 

The match started well for the home side.  They had a majority of the possession, made smart decisions when passing the ball around the pitch and were patient in choosing their moments to attack.  As the game continued, however an old problem reared its ugly head.  Despite chance after chance, the Crew just could not manage to put the ball between the pipes.  Toluca however had no such problems and after only 19 minutes took the lead.  Toluca captain Antonio Naelson stole the ball around the midfield line, then made one quick give-and-go pass around Iro. He then proceeded to dodge Eric Brunner by making another short pass to Nava who quickly heeled the ball back to him.  Naelson then took the ball to just inside the 18 yard box where he faked once to throw off Danny O’Rourke and then slotted the ball along the ground to the left and just past the outstretched arms of William Hesmer. 

After that, the Crew resumed dominance of the game and it appeared they would be going into the locker rooms only one goal down.  But in the 45th minute, Nava won an aerial battle against a poorly-positioned Brunner and redirected the ball toward Rios, who buried it in the upper 90 off a gorgeous volley. Toluca 2, Crew 0.

On the concourse at half time you could tell spirits were down.  Not that a scoreline similar to this wasn’t expected, especially with the team missing most of its big names.  But few in attendance would have expected the home side to dominate the match so thoroughly only to enter the locker room two goals down. The Nordecke supporters section rallied the troops, chanting, singing, banging their drums and blowing their horns.  The team took the energy from the fans and demonstrated what it means to be America’s hardest working team…

The second half began much as the first, with the Crew maintaining most of the possession.  As the half went on there was a noticeble drop off in play by Toluca while the MLS club stepped it up.  In the 64th minute Isaac Brizuela collided with Gino Padula and Brian Carroll and came up with his right eye bloodied.  The teams converged and a small scuffle ensued, which ended with Danny O’Rourke and Vladimir Marin receiving yellow cards.

Finally around the 66th minute Columbus found the net.  Ekpo received the ball about 28 yards out on the right side.  He faced two defenders and stalled for a moment before flicking the ball into the air to Lenhart at the top of the box.  Despite being pressured by three defenders Lenhart managed to direct the ball towards goal with his chest then volley it just underneath the crossbar.

The first substitution of the game came in the 72nd when Emilio Renteria replaced a visually exhausted Ekpo. The difference in play became immediately apparent.  Toluca was already having a hard enough time controlling Lenhart’s massive frame and now they had to also contend with Renteria’s strength, resilience and undying work rate.

Both teams made changes again in the 78th minute right before a corner kick. Toluca replaced Marin with Esquivel while the Crew sent in Jason Garey for Rogers.  Nothing amounted of the corner kick but the Crew used their final sub, bringing on Kevin Burns for Moffat.

The Crew had been pressuring all half but stepped up their efforts after pulling a goal back and infusing three fresh players into the mix.  In the 84th minute they were rewarded. Renteria and Lenhart, the two self titled Luchadores, combined to tie the game. Renteria received the ball with his back to goal about 40 yards out. He turned and took a few paces forward before spotting Lenhart lurking near the top of the box. Renteria put it between two defenders and directly onto the feet of Lenhart who turned and calmly placed the ball just inside the far post out of the reach of Diego Novaretti.

The Black and Gold pushed on, trying to pull off the unthinkable and earn a ‘W’.  But the Red Devils held their ground and after 93 minutes the game ended 2-2.

There is a lot that can be taken from this match.  If there was any question as to whether Columbus could challenge for the MLS Cup and Supporters Shields again this season, this should remove all doubts.  Columbus is still the team to beat in this league.  Not only did they dominate a majority of the game against one of Mexico’s storied clubs, but they came back from a two goal deficit without the help of four of their best players.

When the Columbus Crew travel to Toluca, Mexico next week for the second league of this quarterfinal series all bets are off.  No MLS team American team has ever won a match on Mexican soil, but after their performance last night, nobody can deny that the Crew might just have the best chance yet at ending that streak.  With Schelotto and Hejduk returning to the lineup, the Crew will be going in guns blazing.  They’ve got something to prove.

Player Ratings

Hesmer: 7 (With the exception of the two goals he wasn’t really tested. Probably should have saved the first goal.)

O’Rourke: 5 (Was being relied on to be a solid dependable leader in the back but didn’t exactly step up like he should have. Should have stopped Naelson on the first goal.)

Iro: 7 (Provided some unexpected leadership and stabilized the middle.)

Brunner: 4 (Was out of position on the first goal and lost the aerial battle that lead to the second.)

Padula: 6 (Nothing terrible but nothing fantastic. A typical solid performance from the pirate.)

Carroll: 6 (Had a rough first half but seemed to get back into the groove of things as the game progressed. Seemed to be having a lot of difficulty controlling his first touch.)

Gaven: 6 (Didn’t do much worth mentioning but made some dangerous runs and crafty passes to help bypass the Toluca defense.)

Moffat: 7 (Played a better game than Carroll. Did lots of tracking back to help defend while playing a key role in the attack, especially in the first half. Five of the eight shots taken in the first half came from his foot.)

Rogers: 6 (Managed to sneak in behind the defense numerous times but seemed nervous when it came to taking on defenders 1v1. His service on free/corner kicks left a lot to be desired.)

Lenhart: MOTM 9 (Was the bull in the china shop during the first half. Held the ball well while other people made their runs. Was positioned fantastically for both goals and showed an incredible amount of composure when it came to finishing under extreme pressure.)

Ekpo: 6
(The striker experiment didn’t really work out. His fancy foot work and unmatched speed would have been more useful on one of the wings.)

Warzycha: 8 (Utilized the combined speed of Ekpo, Gaven and Rogers and the relentless and unmerciful play of Moffat and Lenhart to wear Toluca down. Made some odd choices when it came to substitutions. Brought the team back from a heartbreaking first half.)

Renteria: 7 (Made smart decision when on the ball and hustled to get it back whenever the Crew lost it. Incredible work rate.)

Garey: 5 (Didn’t make much noise in the small amount of time he spent on the field.)

Burns: 6 (Didn’t a decent job assisting a tired Carrol in holding down the middle of the park during the final 15 minutes)

Schoeni, Oughton, Herrera, Duka: Did not see field time

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It’s men vs. boys as Crew blank U-17s

Posted on 07 February 2010 by jzidar

As might be expected, the Columbus Crew put the hurt on the Under-17 U.S. Men’s National Team Feb. 6.  They played 105 minutes and netted eight goals by eight different players while keeping a clean sheet.

Game 1   (45 minutes)

Lineup: Hesmer, Zayner, Marshall, O’Rourke, Padula, Ekpo, Moffat, Gaven, Rogers, Schelotto, Herrera

2′     Marshall (Schelotto)
8′     Schelotto (Gaven, Rogers)
13′   Rogers (Herrera, Gaven)
22′   Herrera (Unassisted)

Game 2   (30 minutes)

Lineup: Schoeni, Hejduk, Marshall (Oughton 15), Brunner, Francis, Duka, Burns, Bredun, Elenio, Lenhart, Renteria

8′      Lenhart (Renteria)
12′   Renteria (Unassisted)
16′   Duka (Hejduk)

Game 3   (30 minutes)

Lineup: Burse, Grendi, Burns, Brunner, Francis, Tourie, Yanez, Oughton, Witowski, Garey, Dike

28′   Dike (Garey)

Granted this is only the U17s but it’s still relieving to see this many goals by this many players.  If this is a sign of things to come than it seems the Crew no longer needs to worry about where the goals are going to come from.  The real test will come after the weekend when the team has scrimmages with DC United and Toronto FC.

DouDou Tourie has been revealed to be the second player to join the team in Florida, Kamil Witowski being the other player who was revealed a couple days ago.  Tourie has a green card and almost signed a contract with FC Dallas in 2008 but for whatever reason the deal never came to fruition.

Could the lineup for Game 1 be a preview of the starting 11 for this season?  Doesn’t seem like much of a long shot.  The only large omission from that roster is Brian Carroll, who didn’t take part in any of the games because he is still nursing his post-operation shoulder.

Andy Iro is mysteriously absent from these three matches as well as all other preseason news so far.  Has he just been overlooked in news coverage?  Is he injured?  Or is he no longer with the team?

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Defending champs one and done after loss to RSL

Posted on 06 November 2009 by ASN Staff

Morales recoils in horror as the Crew's season goes up in smoke Thursday

The defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew saw their season end at the hand of Real Salt Lake tonight after losing the return leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal 3-2 at Crew Stadium. The early exit will be a tough one for Crew fans to stomach, as the team successfully defended its Supporters’ Shield title and was heavily favored entering the match-up with RSL, who only sneaked into the playoffs on the final matchday.

Crew head coach Robert Warzycha will be heavily second-guessed for his decision to sit Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the first leg at Rio Tinto Stadium. And the Crew’s defensive efforts after going up 2-0 were very poor indeed. But the game–and the series–turned on a couple of key events early in the second half. With the game tied 2-2 and RSL leading 3-2 on aggregate Eric Brunner missed a sitter from point blank range that would have drawn the Crew level. Moments later a handball by Andy Williams in the RSL penalty area was not whistled by referee Baldoremo Toledo. Columbus continued to push but when an Andy Williams cross missed everybody and bounced into William Hesmer’s net on 74 minutes the Crew had to know it wasn’t going to be their night. They were barely able to create any chances the rest of the way.

It’s a bitter way to end a season, but hopefully it won’t be the end of an era. Reigning MVP Schelotto does not have a contract for next season. He can clearly still contribute as demonstrated in no small part by his two goals tonight but may demand designated player-type money the Crew would rather spend elsewhere (or not at all). MLS defender of the year Chad Marshall could receive overseas interest again this offseason and Robbie Rogers told ASN after last season’s MLS Cup that he envisioned going to Europe after this (2009) season. The Crew could also decide to part ways with Warzycha. Either way it is entirely possible the makeup of next year’s team will be completely different from this year’s.

Match Facts

2009 Major League Soccer Eastern Conference semifinals, second leg
Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew. Nov. 5, 2009
Crew Stadium, Columbus Ohio
Weather: Clear -and- 44 degrees
Attendance: 10,109

Scoring Summary:
CLB — Guillermo Barros Schelotto 1 (unassisted) 19
CLB — Guillermo Barros Schelotto 2 (Emmanuel Ekpo 1) 35
RSL — Javier Morales 1 (Kyle Beckerman 1, Robbie Findley 1) 37
RSL — Robbie Findley 2 (penalty kick) 47+
RSL — Andy Williams 1 (Javier Morales 1) 74

Discipline Summary:
CLB — Danny O’Rourke (caution; Reckless Foul) 48
CLB — Alejandro Moreno (caution; Simulation) 59
RSL — Jamison Olave (caution; Handball) 68

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: Thomas Supple; Joe Fletcher
4th Official: Silviu Petrescu
Time of Game: 90:00

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Déjà vu draw

Posted on 24 September 2009 by pshea

Once again, Colorado’s Conor Casey scored a penalty kick in second-half stoppage time to tie the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1. But unlike Friday’s result at San Jose, this one Wednesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park disappointed Colorado’s coaches and players.

At right, Casey takes the PK in question. For full photo gallery from the match, click here.

“They kept a good shape, and we couldn’t break them down,” noted Rapids central defender Julien Baudet. “We’re all disappointed.”

“It’s tough to break them down when they have 10 guys behind the ball 40 yards from goal,” Casey said. Casey set a new single-season scoring record of 15 for Colorado, passing John Spencer’s mark of 14 in 2001 and 2003. But Casey wanted three points for his team and wasn’t celebrating the record or his top spot in MLS scoring.

As the events unfolded…

Following a couple of cold, wet days in Colorado, 6,234 fans showed up for the midweek game, and the weather turned better. At kickoff, the temperature was just under 50 degrees.

Drew Moor didn’t clear the ball out of the box in the fourth minute, and Preston Burpo had to tip the ball out of the upper corner to keep the game scoreless. This was Moor’s last misstep of the night.

“I thought Drew [Moor] was terrific tonight, and Julien [Baudet] in the first half,” Colorado head coach Gary Smith said. “The pair of them did extremely well.”

In the eighth minute, the Rapids responded with one of the best scoring chances of the night. Jacob Peterson sent a cross to the far post, and Nick LaBrocca tried to head it back into the middle for Casey or Omar Cummings. But Joe Cannon smothered the ball.

Four minutes later, Peterson had to be helped off the field. He received the ball on the left wing and cut inside for a shot with his right foot, But Andre Luiz held his ground with a block tackle and both players went down. Luiz left the game a few minutes later, replaced by MLS veteran midfielder Simon Elliott.

Pat Noonan replaced Peterson, and the character of Colorado’s attack changed, possibly for the rest of the season (although Peterson’s long-term status is still unknown).

With the loss of wingers, “It makes life more difficult,” coach Smith said. “The balance of the group has changed quite drastically. Pat did a reasonably good job wide on the left. He’s an experienced guy with quality on the ball. But he’s a very different player from Jake [Peterson], Colin [Clark], and Jamie [Smith]. We’re now putting a lot more pressure to not concede because the creativity is starting to wane.”

Noonan immediately stole the ball and then snuck behind defenders to receive a return pass from captain Pablo Mastroeni. But he couldn’t get a shot off.

“I thought Pablo was great on the ball on a night when two or three of our midfield players just fell short,” Smith said. “We needed some invention and creativity and sleight of hand somewhere. There’s never any question of effort from our players. Nick [LaBrocca] being shuffled to the right was out of his game a little bit. Mehdi [Ballouchy] was finding it difficult to find opportunity on the ball and be creative and make a difference.”

At one point in the first half, Smith exhorted Ballouchy to move, and the midfielder made a run upfield to join the attack. But like missing a bus, Ballouchy missed the flow of play, returned on defense, and the ball turned over again by the time he got back. It was like that all night for Ballouchy, often out of the play and a step behind. Apart from a free kick deflected for a corner kick in the 33rd minute, Ballouchy didn’t have a presence on the field. Smith replaced him with Scott Palguta in the 69th minute and pushed Kosuke Kimura up into the attack.

Kimura, like Cummings, showed a rare burst of energy in the attack for the night. But his crosses fell shallow, as they did for most of his teammates. Brandon McDonald and Jason Hernandez controlled the air in the Earthquakes’ defense.

“Kosuke has been a live wire lately,” Smith said, “but I thought his service fell short from what it’s been in recent weeks.”

In the second half, San Jose head coach Frank Yallop made a few changes, and the visitors gained an advantage.

“We changed our shape a little bit at halftime and had a good second half,” Yallop said. “I wanted to have two natural midfielders wide for us, [Ramiro] Corrales and [Bobby] Convey. We also put Bobby Burling on the right side because he’s right-footed.”

Convey changed from the right wing to the left wing, and he immediately started creating more chances. Ryan Johnson benefitted from Convey’s rejuvenated attacking. In fact, it was Convey who set the wheels in motion for the Earthquakes’ goal. In the 67th minute, Convey cut twice on the wing near midfield and raced forward with the ball. LaBrocca fouled him well outside the box. On the ensuing free kick, the ball bounced off Noonan’s arm, and center referee Ricardo Salazar awarded a penalty kick. Chris Wondolowski fired his shot high in the middle, and Burpo couldn’t stop it.

Two minutes later, Kimura worked his way to the line and served a cross to Casey, who set the ball to LaBrocca. But LaBrocca’s quick shot hit the side netting from a few yards away.

In the final moments of regulation, Casey seemed to be fouled from behind while going for a header in the box, but Salazar did not blow his whistle.

Three minutes into stoppage time, Salazar’s whistle did blow. Cummings ran onto a through ball and gave Bobby Burling a timely shove to win the ball. Inside the box, Cummings cut back to set up his right foot, and Hernandez fouled him.

Casey stepped up to take the penalty kick, faking to his right and shooting left to tie the game.

The Rapids travel to Kansas City this weekend for the first of their final four games of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (MT) at Community/America Ballpark.

Player Ratings

San Jose Earthquakes
Joe Cannon (6): Like Burpo, Cannon made a save in each half. But he also collected crosses, helped organize his defense, and took a big hit from Casey in the second half.
Bobby Burling (5): Solid defending, particularly in the second half. But Cummings muscled him off the ball to earn a penalty in the box.
Jason Hernandez (6): Despite fouling Cummings in the box in stoppage time, Hernandez didn’t give the Jamaican attacker much room all night, and he won most of the balls in the air.
Chris Leitch (5): When the ball came down his side, Leitch pressured early to slow play and allow the rest of his team to drop back.
Brandon McDonald (6): Solid in the air and on the ground.
Bobby Convey (6): Provided San Jose’s offensive spark, particularly in the second half.
Ramiro Corales (86 minutes, 5): Solid midfield play.
Michael Zaher (8 minutes, 5, NR)
Andre Luiz (15 minutes, 5, NR)
Simon Elliott (75 minutes, 5): Elliott jumped in the game earlier than expected and helped maintain the Earthquakes’ compact defensive shape.
Ramon Sanchez (5): Solid work, but no flashes of brilliance.
Ryan Johnson (6): Although he was dormant in the first half, Johnson threatened consistently in the second half, particularly after his team was up by a goal and the home side pushed forward.
Chris Wondolowski (6): Wondolowski took four of his team’s five shots, including the penalty kick goal.

Colorado Rapids
Preston Burpo (6): Like Cannon, Burpo made a save in each half, starting with a tip over the bar in the fourth minute. It looked like Steward Ceus might see his first action when Burpo took a cleat with his cheek, but Burpo soldiered on and made another key save in the 82nd minute.
Jordan Harvey (6): Harvey pushed into attack and served a great cross to Casey in the 64th minute.
Kosuke Kimura (5): Although he provided one of a few offensive sparks from the midfield and the back, Kimura’s crosses generally fell shot.
Drew Moor (6): Apart from a misclear that forced Burpo to deflect a Wondolowski shot in the upper 90 in the fourth minute, Moor won virtually every ball in the air and initiated attacks with composure.
Mehdi Ballouchy (4): Ballouchy couldn’t find the flow of the game, so Cummings and Casey had to retreat deeper to get the ball and create plays.
Scott Palguta (21 minutes, 5): Palguta pushed forward up the left when the Rapids needed it.
Nick LaBrocca (82 minutes, 4): Although LaBrocca had the same work ethic that has earned him a spot on the field, he missed a chance to equalize and wasn’t as involved in the attack as he usually is.
Facundo Diz (12 minutes, 5): Diz had few touches, but he penetrated into the box when the Rapids needed a goal, setting the stage for the equalizer.
Pablo Mastroeni (6): The captain maintained the team’s defensive shape, but he also pushed forward into attack to fill the void his fellow midfielders failed to fill.
Jacob Peterson (12 minutes, NR): Although Peterson’s injury took him out of the game early, he showed offensive ingenuity and spark.
Pat Noonan (78 minutes, 5): Smart on the ball, Noonan created chances out of nothing. But he couldn’t crack the tight defense.
Conor Casey (5): Without steady service, Casey had to fight for every ball. But he lost many aerial duels and did a few subtle imitations of Jean Phillipe Peguero.
Omar Cummings (5): Although it seemed like an off-night, Cummings effectively set up the equalizer. As coach Smith put it, “Omar’s endeavor resulted in little, but the lad kept going and got us a penalty kick.”

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Scoring drought ends v. Rapids

Posted on 17 September 2009 by Mahmoud Shoblaq

After winning at home against Colorado, the week continued to favor the Canadian team as Nana Attakora won TFC’s player of the month award, Julian de Guzman’s papers were finalized, rookie striker O’Brian White won the MLS goal of the week honors, and also keeper Stefan Frei won the MLS save of the week honors.

Colorado Win!
After the disappointment away from home, Toronto FC continued their lack of consistency but improved to top Colorado at BMO Field. TFC will need to take their scoring touch from that game and take it over when they head to face off against the LA Galaxy.

The starting line up saw a few changes due to some injury and tactical decisions.
Stefan Frei.
Defenders: Marvell Wynne, Nana Attakora, Nick Garcia,  Jim Brennan.
Midfielders: Dwayne De Rosario, Sam Cronin, Amado Guevara, Pablo Vitti.
Forwards: Chad Barrett, Ali Gerba.

Both teams exchanged chances and possession in an entertaining encounter. A beautiful strike from DeRosario kick-started TFC’s domination, with its other goals coming from O’Brian White and Nana Attakora.

An explanation for Toronto’s inconsistency is still amiss, but their winning ways need to continue for them to advance to the play-offs.

TFC will head to face off against LA Galaxy and then stay on the road to face off against the Chicago Fire.


Ratings for players from 1 (low) to 10 (high), ranked by position:

Toronto FC
Stefan Frei: 8.5
May have been at fault with one of the goals scored, yet he made up for it with other game deciding saves.

Marvel Wynne: 7
Did well moving back to a defensive position; no visible mistakes

Nana Attakora: 8.5
His consistency continued; a well deserved goal to add on to his honors this year.

Nick Garcia: 7
A good game by him as he takes over from Serioux.

Jim Brennan: 7.5
Did well to contribute to the team offensively and defensively.

Amado Guevara: 7
Did well to come in after international duty in replacement for Robinson to play the full 90.

Pablo Vitti: 7
Did well throughout the game, could possibly do more for the team.

Sam Cronin: 7
Did well with no notable errors.

Dwayne De Rosario:8
Had a decent game added his spark to kick start TFC’s goals.

Chad Barrett: 7
Did well throughout and almost went the full ninety but started to cramp up in the dying minutes.

Ali Gerba: 7
A decent game was unable to break his drought.

Subs Used:
Lesly Fellinga:
Came on for Vitti, did very well coming in for his debut.

O’Brian White: 8
Came on for Gerba, and did very well to create an immediate impact by scoring a beautiful goal.

Emmanuel Gomez: N/A
Came on for Barrett but was on for a very short time.



Nana Attakora wins again!

Nana Attakora won his second TFC player of the month award  following his great and consistent performances in August.


White wins MLS Goal of the Week!

TFC’s rookie striker O’Brian White has won his first ever MLS Goal of the Week award for his amazing finish in the 3-2 win against Colorado Rapids at BMO Field on Saturday. It was his second MLS goal in his four appearances. White’s goal gave TFC the lead that they held on with to win the game. He came on as a substitute and scored minutes later to show his immediate impact. The goal has shown his strikers instinct which gives everyone a taste of what he can bring to the team in the future.


Stefan Frei wins save of the week; yet again!
Stefan Frei’s great save against Colarodo has been voted Week 26’s MLS Save of the Week. This is his fourth win this season and third one in 3 consecutive weeks . The rookie continues to prove his worth and getting himself noticed to improve his chances of winning the rookie of the year award. This save has been one of the many great saves he has made throughout this season.


Julian de Guzman Update!
Julian de Guzman will officially be available for selection for TFC’s game against the LA Galaxy. After signing and finalizing his papers he available to play and will possibly make the start.


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Gaven PK drops Dynamo, puts Crew on track for Supporters’ Shield repeat

Posted on 14 September 2009 by ASN Staff

Eddie Gaven scored on a penalty kick in the first minute of second-half stoppage time to give the Columbus Crew a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo at Crew Stadium Sunday. The match between the top two teams in the league and the winners of the past three MLS Cups, had all the makings (and drama) of a playoff encounter. With three points from the victory, the Crew move two clear of Houston for the Supporters’ Shield trophy. Robert Warzycha’s men expand their lead in the Eastern Conference to three points after the Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake played to a 1-1 draw Saturday night.

Taylor Birkos was at Crew Stadium and snapped the following photos:

Match Facts

Houston Dynamo (11-8-7) vs. Columbus Crew (11-4-9)
September 13, 2009 — Columbus Crew Stadium

Scoring Summary:
CLB — Frankie Hejduk 1 (unassisted) 34
HOU — Cam Weaver 4 (Brian Ching 3, Geoff Cameron 4) 80
CLB — Eddie Gaven 5 (penalty kick) 91+

Houston Dynamo — Pat Onstad, Andrew Hainault (Craig Waibel 46), Bobby Boswell, Geoff Cameron, Mike Chabala, Brian Mullan, Ricardo Clark, Stuart Holden, Corey Ashe (Cam Weaver 76), Luis Angel Landin (Dominic Oduro 58), Brian Ching.

Substitutes Not Used: Wade Barrett, Ryan Cochrane, Tally Hall, Erik Ustruck

Columbus Crew — William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk, Eric Brunner, Chad Marshall, Gino Padula (Adam Moffat 72), Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Danny O’Rourke, Robbie Rogers (Emmanuel Ekpo 76), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Steven Lenhart 88), Alejandro Moreno.

Substitutes Not Used: Jason Garey, Andy Gruenebaum, Andy Iro, Duncan Oughton

Misconduct Summary:
CLB — Adam Moffat (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 82
HOU — Ricardo Clark (ejection; Violent Conduct) 82
HOU — Brian Ching (caution; Reckless Tackle) 87
CLB — William Hesmer (caution; Dissent) 87

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee’s Assistants: Jason Cullum; James Conlee
4th official: Mikael Lundqvist
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 14,306
weather: Sunny -and- 77 degrees

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Rapids beat TFC, steer toward playoffs

Posted on 06 September 2009 by pshea

Toronto FC finished the game with nine players at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night, and the Colorado Rapids managed their 1-0 lead responsibly to secure the win and maintain good position in the MLS playoff hunt. Last Sunday, the Rapids beat the league-leading Houston Dynamo 1-0 with the same game-ending discipline.

“We learned our lesson in Chicago,” recalled Rapids defender/midfielder Kosuke Kimura. Two weeks ago, Colorado had a 2-0 cushion against the Fire with 20 minutes to play, but they gave up three goals and lost.

On Saturday, Conor Casey scored his 12th goal of the season when he spiked a header past Stefan Frei in the 52nd minute (and atoned for smashing the ball off the crossbar with his penalty kick in the 25th minute). Omar Cummings received the ball on the right wing and laid it back to Jacob Peterson, who launched a first-time cross into the box. Casey had plenty of room near the penalty spot behind Adrian Serioux, snapping to hit his header low.

Casey’s original plan was to play in the U.S. World Cup qualifier against El Salvador at Rio Tinto Stadium, but a toothache last Saturday night led to a painful wisdom tooth extraction this week.

“I was here and healthy on game day,” Casey said. “So obviously I’m going to play.”

With multiple injuries and Pablo Mastroeni’s suspension, the Rapids’ roster looked slim. In fact, the only midfielder on the bench was Greg Dalby. Colorado head coach Gary Smith started forward Pat Noonan in midfield, and he replaced Noonan with defender Michael Holody in the 75th minute (and pushed Kimura into midfield).

Referring to Holody’s first MLS minutes, Smith said it was “probably the best debut performance in a long time, especially for a defender. I thought Mike had a terrific game during the week in the reserves, and I thought it was his time for 20 minutes. It was only 20 minutes, but we’ve all seen shock-horror 20 minutes when people come on and make mistakes and become a little bit of a lightweight in the back four.”

Smith also praised Noonan, a forward who lined up in midfield to fill the gaps.

“Pat’s movement is elusive,” Smith said. “He has good experience. He gets out of the eyeline of defenders and drifts into pockets. He got the ball. He kept possession well. He got around the edge of the box. His work rate was great. I can’t think of anything else he could have done except score.”

Looking ahead, Smith sees a tough game on artificial turn in Toronto.

“They get good crowds,” Smith said. “It will be a very, very difficult game.”

As the action unfolded…
Cummings sent a long cross, and Peterson headed it to Casey in the middle, but the captain whiffed a volley in front of goal.

Mehdi Ballouchy held the ball on the left wing and crossed it to Casey, who laid it to Peterson. Peterson returned the ball to Ballouchy, and Frei saved the shot on the line.

Nick LaBrocca carried the ball calmly through a crowd.

Dwayne DeRosario slipped a backdoor pass to Pablo Vitti, and Matt Pickens saved the shot.

Cummings retreated for a tough tackle to get the ball back, but Casey’s shot was wide left.

Toronto FC free kick at the top of the box ended up out of bounds for a goal kick.

Noonan turned to let the ball roll through midfield and then won a tackle and got the ball to Cummings. Cummings dropped it to Casey, who found Peterson. Peterson’s shot deflected for a corner kick.

Julien Baudet’s shot off the corner deflected, a handball in the box by Jim Brennan (penalty kick).

Casey smashed the ball off the crossbar.

Cummings flicked the ball to Casey, but Brennan blocked his shot.

Kimura fed Cummings on the right wing. Cummings cut inside and then pushed the ball into the box, but Peterson didn’t make the run.

DeRosario set himself up on the left wing, beat Baudet, and sent a low cross into the box.

Pickens snagged a free kick.

Casey completed a 1-2 with Cummings, but Nick Garcia cleared it away.

Drew Moor head clear.

Ballouchy tough tackle on Marvell Wynne.

DeRosario skinned his way to deliver a cross, but Wynne whiffed.

Peterson fired worm-burner (one of Frei’s four saves).

Ballouchy cut into the box after knocking it with Noonan and Casey, but Brennan deflected it to Frei.

Second half…

Kimura scissored his way to the line, but his cross was cleared.

Casey goal (see above).

Casey flicked the ball to Cummings, and Amadou Sanyang had to foul the Jamaican striker.

Noonan curled a throughball to Cummings, who smoke Serioux in the box and hit the deck (no penalty kick called).

Moments later, Casey had the same position on Serioux, but he lost the ball and tumbled down.

Wynne fired a hard cross, but Pickens punched it clear.

A high ball flew over Kimura’s head, and Chad Barrett ran it down to the line. Barrett fired a cross to Ali Gerba on the ground, but Pickens smothered it.

Sanyang trampled Peterson and received his second yellow card.

Cummings raced in on a breakaway from the left, but Frei made an excellent kick save.

A rare occurrence, Nana Attakora knocked Casey off the ball.

Wynne raced up the wing, but Peterson deflected the cross for a corner kick.

Holody received a yellow card for inching forward too much on a throw-in.

Serioux plowed into Cummings as the ball went over their heads (and was ejected).

Following the Serioux ejection, Ballouchy curled the free kick inches past the upper left corner.

Kimura took the ball into the corner to kill time, but he ended up working through the crowd to cross it. Cummings hit a soft bicycle kick to Frei.

Player ratings

Toronto FC
Stefan Frei (5): With four pretty tough saves, Frei played solid.
Nana Attakora (5): Solid defending, but his attacking was limited.
Jim Brennan (6): Saved a shot and led like a captain.
Nick Garcia (45 minutes) (5): Steady, but Garcia didn’t add much to the attack.
Adrian Serioux (39 minutes) (4): Ejected for charging Cummings as the last man on a through ball.
Emmanuel Gomez (5): Blended into the wallpaper, but he didn’t make any egregious errors.
Ali Gerba (5): Timed his run into the box for Toronto’s best chance, but Pickens picked it off.
Pablo Vitti (5): Terrific work rate for 70 minutes.
Danny Dichio (4): Committed one foul and was largely absent.
Sam Cronin (4): No notable errors, but nothing remarkably positive to report either.
Amadou Sanyang (4): Defensive aggressiveness was a plus, until his red card became a minus.
Marvell Wynne (6): Contributed the most for the visitors with quality plays deep in defense and all the way into attack.
Chad Barrett (5): Created one of Toronto’s best chances by running a ball to the line and crossing it low toward Gerba.
Dwayne De Rosario (6): Created a buzz every time he got the ball. Ranged left, right, and center. Retreated deep to collect the ball.

Colorado Rapids
Matt Pickens (6): Clean sheet, and he saved Toronto’s lone shot on goal. But Pickens came out on crosses and punched the ball like Muhammad Ali. He also snuffed a low cross from Barrett in the closing minutes, perhaps Toronto’s best chance.
Julien Baudet (6): Steady guidance of the back line.
Jordan Harvey (6): Strong in the air, clever on the ball, steady in the back.
Kosuke Kimura (6): A warrior, Kimura pushed into midfield for the final 20 minutes and created chances while putting the visitors on their heels.
Drew Moor (6): Good in the air and smart on the ball. And he showed some speed on a couple crucial retreats.
Mehdi Ballouchy (6): Steady guidance in midfield and involvement consistently all game.
Nick LaBrocca (6): Play-by-play execution of basics. Good positioning.
Pat Noonan (6): Played his role. Worked hard to create opportunities that really weren’t there.
Michael Holody (6): Solid debut with steadiness. He gave Toronto no chances.
Jacob Peterson (7): Superb assist and relentless work rate.
Conor Casey (6): Flicked headers all night, scored game-winner, and would have scored higher by scoring the penalty kick.
Omar Cummings (6): Incessant danger for the Toronto back line. Cummings created attention in the final third all night.

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TFC stays strong to draw Seattle

Posted on 02 September 2009 by Mahmoud Shoblaq

After a disappointing match against Chivas, Toronto looked to bounce back against Seattle as every point is becoming crucial in the race for playoff spots.

The starting line up saw a few changes due to some players having suspensions. 
Stefan Frei.
Defenders: Nana Attakora, Emmanuel Gomez, Nick Garcia,  Jim Brennan.
Midfielders: Sam Cronin, Amado Sanyang, Amado Guevara, Marvel Wynne.
Forwards: Dwayne De Rosario, Chad Barrett.

Toronto dominated the first half with great opportunities and chances that unfortunately did not see the back of the net. DeRosario lost his footing to see his own shot hit his other leg, while Chad Barrett was not able to get full contact on his diving header. Other chances included Cronin’s break away that saw him lob the ball over the goalie and miss the target, and Guevara’s beautiful shot that hit the cross bar.

The second half continued to be entertaining as Seattle picked up the pace and improved their performance but Toronto held strong to keep the score level. Stefan Frei had a great game denying Seattle on a few occasions and stayed strong in the dying minutes of the game with an all important final save that could possibly earn him MLS’s Save of the Week.

It was an overall great performance from Toronto FC, and possibly one of their best this season; unfortunately they were unable to capitalize on their chances. TFC will now travel to Colorado to face the Rapids, before they head home to face them again.

Ratings for players from 1 (low) to 10 (high), ranked by position:

Toronto FC
Stefan Frei: 8
He did great to keep the clean sheet for the visiting side.

Nana Attakora: 8.5
Had a great game as usual, one of the only consistent players on the team.

Nick Garcia: 7.5
A great game by him, one of his best in a TFC shirt, did well to deny Seattle any opportunities.

Emmanuel Gomez: 7.5
Continued his calm, cool and collective attitude to stay solid at the back for TFC.

Jim Brennan: 7
Was pushed back to defense with the absence of Adrian Serioux and did well.

Marvel Wynne: 7
Had a decent game in a midfield role, but it seems he contributes more when he plays in the defense.

Amadou Sanyang: 8
Received the start due to Robinson’s suspension and did very well to control the midfield and deny Seattle any chances to build plays.

Amado Guevara: 7
Had a decent game was unlucky to see his shot hit the post.

Sam Cronin: 7
Did well, lack of experience let him down with the break away; should have and could have done better.

Dwayne De Rosario: 8
Another great game; connected great with Chad Barrett, and possibly the best striking partnership for TFC.

Chad Barrett: 8
One of his best games, connected great with Dwayne  .

Subs Used:
Ali Gerba: 6.5
Came on for Barrett, but did little to impact in the game.

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