Tag Archive | "John Carver"

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Reds hope to snap slump in Utah

Posted on 28 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC will travel to Salt Lake on Monday night, hoping to steal three points from the same ground they took their first ever away win last season.

Winless in nine matches (including friendlies and Canadian Championship results), Toronto are in danger of seeing the wheels come off their playoff dreams. Last year, a 2-1 win at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Independence Day was enough to give hope to the Reds, but poor away form through the rest of the campaign doomed the Canadian club to last place in the league.

Dismal road form has been a thorn in the side of John Carver’s men in 2008 once again, having claimed just one win from seven trips. That performance, a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles in April, gave rise to hopes that Toronto may have turned around their away jinx, but recent results have shown that a huge gap remains between the club’s away performances and their play with BMO Field’s notoriously loyal fans behind them.

Real Salt Lake are flying high in just their fourth season, sitting atop the Western Conference, although the split table can be deceiving given the relative poor play of the sides from the West this season. RSL sit just two points up from Toronto in the overall standings with two games in hand, but the Reds are mired in fourth in the East and hovering around the playoff zone.

Carver will miss Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne, both a part of the United States’ Olympic team (along with RSL’s Chris Seitz) in China. Rumours persist that American striker Chad Barrett will join the club from Chicago as part of the deal that sees Toronto give up their right to acquire veteran hitman Brian McBride, but the forward is unlikely to join up with the squad until after the RSL trip.

Todd Dunivant has been placed on the season-ending injury list in a move that will free up salary cap space for Barrett. Fan favourite Danny Dichio is still out with a concussion; while Kevin Harmse, one of Wynne’s natural replacements at right back, may be unable to reach fitness with a knee problem. Youngster Nana-Attakora Gyan or centerback Marco Vélez may fill in on the right side of defense.

Olivier Tébily is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with an ankle injury, but rumours on fan sites persist that the French defender has returned to Europe, citing an inability to settle in Toronto. Whether he appears on the bench with the Reds in Salt Lake may be telling.

Countryman Laurent Robert, a friend of Tébily who helped him to adjust to life in Canada, is likely to start in Utah but will have to be wary of his discipline. One more yellow card will see the left winger miss TFC’s next match.

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Return to Canada for Yallop

Posted on 18 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Frank Yallop will bring his San Jose Earthquakes side to Toronto on Saturday as the only Canadian manager in Major League Soccer, with Yallop hoping that his knowledge of players like Jim Brennan and Greg Sutton can help him break the club’s undefeated home streak in league action.

Toronto’s only blemish on their record at BMO Field was a Canadian Championship loss to Vancouver Whitecaps, as the Reds have enjoyed the comforts of home during league play with five wins and three draws.

In matches this year in the United States Toronto have won just one game, a 3-2 decision over Los Angeles Galaxy back in April. Carver’s men fell 2-1 in Chicago last week on a stoppage time goal by the Fire’s John Thorrington, the Reds’ sixth road loss in 2008. Such a dismal run away from home has meant that Toronto’s games at BMO Field take on even more significance for the club’s playoff hopes.

Yallop is familiar with Canadian soccer, having coached the national team from in the last World Cup qualifying cycle. His last trip to BMO Field came even more recently when his LA Galaxy side drew TFC last season He’ll have to watch from afar and relay messages to the club’s staff this time around, however. Yallop is suspended from the bench having received five cautions already this year.

O’Brien

It’s been stressful for San Jose, winless in six games going into Toronto. One player already used to such expansion woes is Ronnie O’Brien, the midfielder who was a part of Toronto’s inaugual campaign in 2007 but was restricted to just 13 appearances, emerging as a fan favourite nonetheless. A recurring knee injury meant that O’Brien sought greener pastures than the artificial turf at BMO Field in the off-season.

That chance came with the Quakes, who had already recruited Yallop to return to the Bay area for the team’s second coming. The Canadian boss had a highly successful spell at the former incarnation of the Quakes from 2001 to 2003.

O’Brien’s is questionable for the Toronto clash with a hamstring strain, with Gavin Glinton and Kelly Gray also likely to miss out. Nick Garcia is suspended along with Toronto midfielder Maurice Edu, whose teammates Todd Dunivant and Danny Dichio are on the injured list.

One player looking to benefit from Dichio’s absence is 16-year-old Abdus Ibrahim, the former FC Dallas starlet who recently joined the Reds and scored off the bench on his debut last Saturday. With English striker Paul Dickov still in talks with Toronto FC and English clubs in the second and third tier, Carver is short on firepower up front and may turn to Jeff Cunningham and Ibrahim over misfiring Kiwi striker Jarrod Smith.

Toronto are bracing for a big week and may be forced to rotate their squad ahead of Tuesday’s must-win Canadian Championship tie against Montreal Impact. There promises to be a cup final atmosphere ahead of the game, with TFC needing a win to lift the Voyageurs Cup in front of their home fans.

Jim Brennan will star for the MLS All-Star Team against West Ham United in his home ground two days later, making it three in five days if he features in both of the Reds’ matches this week.

TFC fell at home in friendly action on Tuesday night, dropping a 1-0 decision to Argentina’s Independiente. Toronto also had talented youngsters Marvell Wynne and Maurice Edu called up to the United States’ Olympic side for the tournament in Beijing this summer.

Check the Quakes page for our correspondent Evan White’s take on the upcoming game. Saturday’s encounter can be viewed on CBC in Canada.

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Huckerby knows the way to San Jose

Posted on 14 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC have traded their discovery claim on English forward Darren Huckerby to San Jose Earthquakes for allocation money and a senior international roster spot, the club confirmed today.

Huckerby had been spotted in the director’s box at BMO Field with Mo Johnston during the Canadian Championship match at home to Vancouver, amidst rumours that the Reds’ Director of Soccer was looking to sign the former Norwich hitman.

Instead, Huckerby, an old teammate of Jim Brennan’s at Norwich, was persuaded by Canadian manager Frank Yallop to join the Earthquakes.

“We had Huckerby here for a couple of days, but he’s decided to test the waters in San Jose,” Johnston told the club’s website.

It is likely that the artificial surface in Toronto helped sway Huckerby against joining the Reds. He would follow ex-TFC midfielder Ronnie O’Brien in citing the turf as a motivating factor in moving to San Jose.

Ex-Manchester City and Blackburn striker Paul Dickov, also spotted at the Vancouver game with Johnston, is rumoured to be milling over a 1-year contract offer from TFC.

The trade brings Toronto’s number of senior international places on the roster to 18. Conceivably, the club could field an entire senior roster of players without Canadian citizenship.

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TFC and Crew in stalemate

Posted on 18 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

MLS leaders Columbus Crew stole a 0-0 draw from BMO Field on Saturday afternoon, preserving both their spot at the top of the standings and Toronto FC’s unbeaten home record in 2008.

TFC head coach John Carver named an unchanged squad from Red Bull New York’s visit a fortnight ago, with Danny Dichio supported in the attack by the attacking midfield trident of Amado Guevara, Laurent Robert and Rohan Ricketts.

The only obvious change was the switch of Robert and Ricketts, with each attacking from their opposite wing: Ricketts found himself marauding down the left flank while Robert played deeper on the right.

American internationals Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne continued their own runs in the TFC first team ahead of a trip to Beijing with the U.S. Olympic team.

The sun was shining on Lake Ontario as Toronto started the stronger of the two sides. Danny Dichio found Amado Guevara with a lay-off in the fifth minute with the Honduran lashing an acrobatic volley at Will Hesmer’s goal, but the shot was straight at the Columbus ‘keeper.

Robbie Rogers had a chance for Columbus in the 19th minute, wrong-footing Marvell Wynne and sending a weak shot past Greg Sutton. Tyrone Marshall was on hand on the line, however, to clear the ball emphatically.

Robert and Guevara each had more than one chance to send an inswinging corner into Hesmer’s penalty area, but the fierce wind at Exhibition Place made it difficult for Toronto to find the head of Dichio or centerbacks Tyrone Marshall and Marco Vélez.

With the teams swapping sides in the second half, TFC finally had the chance to attack the south end, Toronto’s own curva sud with the highest concentration of support. Tyrone Marshall found himself clear on the left side of the penalty area after a scramble following Robert’s 52nd minute free kick, but the defender’s cross-shot flew harmlessly across Hesmer’s goal and out of danger.

The best chance of the game arrived just ahead of the hour-mark, however, when Robert cut in from the right side and found some space outside the Crew penalty area. The Frenchman lined up a low shot that looked to have beaten Hesmer, but the powerful strike cannoned off the base of the far post and back into play.

With Dichio unable to make a difference and struggling to hold the ball up in the windy conditions, Carver replaced his fellow Englishman with veteran MLS striker Jeff Cunningham in the 63rd minute. The former Columbus hitman was prolific in his seven seasons with the Crew but has been restricted to late cameo appearances so far in 2008 with Toronto.

Cunningham’s pace quickly threatened to make the difference, with the American leading a late charge with Guevara and Ricketts just minutes after his introduction. Guevara collected Cunningham’s low pass and laid it off to Ricketts, but the English winger’s left-footed strike was straight at Hesmer.

For his part, Crew midfielder-forward Guillermo Barros-Schelotto was growing increasingly frustated with perceived injustices by the officials and the Toronto FC crowd. The Argentine was pelted with streamers on all four corners of the pitch throughout the match as he lined up to take set pieces for the Crew.

The tension showed as Barros-Schelotto grew increasingly theatric, finally receiving a booking late in the second half for simulation. Crew boss Sigi Schmid was quick to replace the former Boca Juniors star with Nicolas Hernandez in stoppage time.

The 0-0 marks the end of a five-game winning streak for Columbus but preserves an unbeaten run for both sides, the longest and second-longest in the league so far this season.t

“You got to give them credit,” Toronto midfielder Carl Robinson told the club’s website after the game. “They… got what I think they wanted to get; we couldn’t get what we wanted to get… but, you know, it’s important we took something out of the game, we took a point out of the game.”

Schmid maintained that his team were up for all three points, however:

“It’s just one of those games,” he told Toronto’s media relations department. “Toronto’s playing well, and they’re playing well at home. You know, for us, it’s been a while since we’ve played on turf, and that always changes the game a little bit. It was a little windy… was important for us to play to zero in the back and see if we could maybe grab a goal on the road, and I thought we came close a couple of times.”

D.C. United’s visit on Wednesday night will test Toronto’s home record further, with a return tie against United scheduled for next Saturday.

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League leaders visit BMO

Posted on 25 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC will welcome table-topping Kansas City Wizards to BMO Field on Saturday afternoon, the second in a five-game home stand for the Canadian club.

BMO

The Reds’ fans will hope for a repeat of another occasion when the league leaders came to town — last year’s 4-0 drubbing of FC Dallas at the hands of a surging Toronto. Things are unlikely to be so easy this time around, however, with Wizards keeper Kevin Hartman in imperious form to start the campaign.

Last season’s corresponding fixture was the stadium opener at BMO Field, when Eddie Johnson spoiled the party with a late goal to sink Toronto. The American striker has since moved on to Fulham in England, however, and John Carver’s Toronto side will be confident to get on the scoresheet this time.

Indeed, since being shutout in Columbus on the season opener, Toronto have scored in three straight matches, with one-goal games coming on either side of a three-goal outburst in Los Angeles a fortnight ago. Five different players have hit the net for TFC, with the strike force of Danny Dichio and Jeff Cunningham each looking to add to their single tally so far.

Toronto have looked a different side from last season, and they’ll need to keep it up, having gained just a single point from their three meetings with Kansas City last year. Carver’s 4-5-1 formation may leave the lone frontman isolated at times, but the young side packed the middle and managed to keep a clean sheet against Real Salt Lake last week after going 1-0 up in the first half.

As with any second year club, Toronto must be patient as their new signings gel and begin to recognize each other’s strengths — and weaknesses. In order to shore up what looked like a leaky defence in a 4-1 loss at D.C. United and the 3-2 win in LA, the club has brought in veteran defender Olivier Tébily. The Frenchman has been training with the side for a number of weeks and may suit up for Saturday’s clash.

For their part, Kansas City are on a run of six straight away games. Curt Onalfo’s side began their road trip in the best way with a 1-0 win in Chicago last week, moving them to the top of the MLS standings. Designated player Claudio Lopez has been in great form for the Wizards, and it was his pinpoint assist at Toyota Park that allowed Jack Jewsbury to score the game’s only goal after four minutes.

In goal, Hartman recorded his second straight shutout and the 70th in his MLS career, an impressive total that makes him the all-time league leader.

Toronto are reporting a clean bill of health, while for Kansas City, Davy Arnaud looks set to miss out with a hamstring problem. Argentine maestro Carlos Marinelli may yet be declared fit as he looks to shake off a groin strain.

A home win on Saturday would set a new record for consecutive victories for Toronto, put them above .500 for the first time in club history, and make it two for two so far in their five-game run at BMO Field.

A slow start last season, coupled with a midseason collapse that wasn’t helped by an injury bug, put paid to any hopes of a playoff run in TFC’s inaugural campaign. This year, an unbeaten start to life at fortress BMO may be what the club needs to give their fans the playoff game in Toronto they so desperately want.

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Cunningham grabs brace in friendly win

Posted on 10 March 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Cunningham was the man in TexasToronto FC closed out the Texas Pro Soccer Festival with a win on Sunday night, beating Chivas USA 3-2 in Cibolo, Texas.

Shortly after Houston Dynamo won the preseason tournament, albeit on goals scored, after a 1-1 draw with DC United at Steele Stadium, TFC and Chivas took to the field to battle for third place. Both sides had lost their opening two games, by one-goal margins in Toronto’s case, and neither were keen on going home empty handed.

Jeff Cunningham opened the scoring in the 9th minute, beating Chivas goalkeeper Lance Parker on a breakaway. Triallist Kiki Musampa turned the ball into his own net on an Ante Razov corner a quarter of an hour later to level the scores, and it was Razov himself who scored a curling free kick past Greg Sutton to take the lead for his side just minutes later.

Determined to go into the half on level terms, Danny Dichio scored his first goal of preseason on the half-hour mark after being played in by Jim Brennan. His side were handed a lifeline in the 63rd minute when Chivas were penalized for a handball in the box. Cunningham stepped up to dispatch the resulting penalty into the goal.

In claiming the game-winner in such a manner, the club matched their penalty total from the whole of last season, a solitary Collin Samuel strike in Salt Lake on July 4th, and have been productive offensively already this preseason despite the addition of any big names.

Three goals in the seven-goal thriller against Houston was followed by an attacking, if unsuccessful, approach against defending Supporters Shield winners D.C. United in a 1-0 defeat, and John Carver may have found the right balance in the third game of the Texas Pro Soccer Festival.

Next up is the Carolina Challenge Cup, where Toronto managed a runners-up finish last season behind Houston, who will not be participating this season due to their involvement with another CCC, the CONCACAF Champions Cup. San Jose Earthquakes, the club whose squad were relocated to Houston two years ago, are back in the league with new personnel (including a few former Earthquakes) and will join holdovers TFC and Red Bull New York along with the host Charleston Battery.

The preseason tournament, which is quickly becoming a regular curtain-raiser for TFC, will kick off in South Carolina on March 15th. Don’t expect any of the three visiting teams to take the competition lightly; each previous winner of the CCC, now in its fifth year, has gone on to win either the Supporters Shield or the MLS Cup that season.

Scoring summary:

TFC – Cunningham 1 ‘9, Dichio 1 (Brennan 1) ’30, Cunningham 2 (PK) ’63

CHV – Kiki Musampa own goal 1 (Ante Razov 1) ’23, Ante Razov 1 ’27

Lineups and further information will be posted as it comes in.

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Triallists run rampant in Houston loss

Posted on 07 March 2008 by Scott Ferguson

With a number of guest internationals making up the Toronto FC roster in MLS pre-season, head coach John Carver was given lots to think about ahead of the squad registration deadline. In the club’s first match of the Texas Pro Soccer Bowl, attacking football was the theme of the day as Houston Dynamo defeated TFC 4-3 on March 5th in Cibolo, Texas.

Chris Wondolowski’s headed goal had given the Men in Orange an early lead at Steele Stadium. Also in the first half, Jim Brennan crossed for triallist Kiki Musampa to send his own thumping header past Canadian keeper Pat Onstad in the Dynamo net. Houston went on to romp to a 4-1 lead on two first half goals from Brian Ching and an Erik Ustruck strike after an interval rife with substitutions.

TFC managed to make a game of it with 2 late goals, as former Newcastle midfielder Martin Brittain converted a penalty after a foul by Dynamo forward Wondolowski and fellow triallist Tony Vairelles bagged a goal with eight minutes left. Despite the late fightback, Dominic Kinnear’s men — who also beat their Canadian opponents last year in their first game of the 2007 Carolina Challenge Cup — held on for another pre-season victory, this time in the first edition of the Pro Soccer Festival on home-state soil.

Brittain and one time-Manchester City midfielder Musampa fit the mould of British-based attacking players that TFC Director of Football Mo Johnston has sought in the past, but Vairelles represents a departure from such a recruitment strategy. The 34-year-old, who played for France in the 1996 Olympics, has spent his club career in his home country and Belgium, where he scored 18 goals in 57 games during two different spells at SC Bastia on the French island of Corsica.

All three of the visiting players have helped their chances of earning a permanent contract in Toronto, with salary cap space available since the departure of Ronnie O’Brien to San Jose. Canadian under-23 international Tyler Rosenlund looks set to join the side, pending league approval, and will join compatriot Kevin Harmse at BMO Field; the midfield hardman having joined from Los Angeles Galaxy last week.

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