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Twelfth man helps TFC to home win

Posted on 21 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Six days after a win in Los Angeles, their highest-scoring away trip yet, Toronto FC made it two in a row with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Both sides were on a high going into the match, with Salt Lake having hammered D.C. United 4-0 last week for an historic victory of their own. With confidence running high going into the BMO Field encounter, Salt Lake boss Jason Kreis had warned of the intense atmosphere at the Toronto stadium. He was proved right as the sold-out crowd got firmly behind the home side in their 2008 stadium opener.

Six months of pent-up emotion was in evidence from the 20 219 in attendance, and the crowd inspired their side to take the game to Salt Lake early on. John Carver fielded a 4-5-1 similar to the lineup he used at LA last week with Rohan Ricketts coming into the side on the right wing.

Along with Laurent Robert and Amado Guevara, Ricketts was threatening the Salt Lake defense, but Danny Dichio was largely isolated up front without an out-and-out striker beside him. Central midfield was the scene of a battle between Kyle Beckerman and the Toronto duo of Carl Robinson and Maurice Edu.

Toronto’s pressure was drawing a series of fouls from their visitors, and referee Silviu Petrescu called a free kick just outside Salt Lake’s goal when Matias Mantilla hauled down Guevara on the half hour mark. Guevara and Robert stood over the free kick while Robinson tried to disrupt the wall, and with Robert expected to blast one, the French winger took a low strike that took a deflection on its way through the throng of players and trickled past Rimando.

The goal, Robert’s first in a TFC shirt, came right in front of the south end, and the Ultras groups led the celebrations that echoed through the ground. With their first home goal of the season behind them, Toronto kept creating chances, but Marvell Wynne’s left-shooted shot was palmed away by Rimando just minutes after Robert’s goal.

Salt Lake started stronger in the second half with Toronto’s confidence starting to seep as they tried to defend their lead. It was unfamiliar ground for the Canadian club, who were on the losing end throughout much of last season.

The visitors had three corners just after half time but were kept at bay throughout the second half. TFC goalkeeper Greg Sutton and centerback pairing Tyrone Marshall and Marco Vélez did their part in shutting out Salt Lake, with Vélez particularly vindicated for a slow start to the season.

Toronto sit at .500 for the first time in the club’s history and will look to push past that mark this Saturday. Kansas City visit BMO Field in the second of a five game home stand, and if the rumour mill is to be believed, Olivier Tébily may be available for Toronto FC by that time. The French defender is widely expected to sign for the Reds in the coming days.Other new arrivals may include youth director Chris Cummins and former MLS defender Tim Regan, who is expected to take up a head scout position with Toronto. Early reports indicated that Regan would take up a technical director role with the club, but it is believed that such a job title — increasingly popular in MLS — would conflict with Director of Soccer Mo Johnston’s duties.

While Cummins had worked with TFC coach John Carver at Luton, Regan was an old college of Johnston, who coached the American defender at New York three years ago. Johnston drafted Regan in Toronto’s expansion campaign, but before a ball was kicked in 2007 Regan was back at New York for a second spell. He played just three times last year and was waived by NYRB, going on to attend graduate studies in North Carolina.

Regan is likely to head up a revamped scouting network in Toronto with a focus on American and Latin American players as the club seeks to establish itself both on and off the pitch in their sophomore season. In the stands, things are as healthy as ever, and the players and support staff alike will be looking to reward that support with maximum points through the present run of home matches.

Game Capsule

Real Salt Lake (1-2-1) vs. Toronto FC (2-2-0)
April 19, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:
TOR — Laurent Robert 1 (unassisted) 31

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Ian Joy (Andy Williams 62), Matias Mantilla, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Kyle Beckerman, Dema Kovalenko (Yura Movsisyan 79), Nathan Sturgis (Carey Talley 27), Javier Morales, Kenny Deuchar, Robbie Findley.

Substitutes Not Used: Tony Beltran, Fabian Espindola, Jamison Olave, Chris Seitz

Toronto FC — Greg Sutton, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Rohan Ricketts (Jarrod Smith 84), Maurice Edu, Carl Robinson, Laurent Robert (Todd Dunivant 81), Amado Guevara, Danny Dichio (Jeff Cunningham 90).

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Kevin Harmse, Julius James, Andrea Lombardo

Misconduct Summary:
TOR — Marco Velez (caution; Pushing, Holding) 73
RSL — Chris Wingert (caution; Reckless Foul) 78

Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee’s Assistants: Amato DeLuca; Kermit Quisenberry
4th official: Paul Ward
time of game: 1:50
attendance: 20,219
weather: Clear -and- 75 degrees

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Home opener looms, roster taking shape

Posted on 15 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC waived defender Andrew Boyens on Tuesday, freeing up an international roster spot on transfer deadline day. Unattached French defender Olivier Tébily is still rumored to be on TFC’s radar, as the ex-Birmingham stopper would bolster a central defensive unit consisting of Marco Vélez, Tyrone Marshall and draft picks Julius James and Pat Phelan.

The back line has hardly inspired confidence in their first three Major League Soccer matches as a unit, conceding eight goals including a clumsy penalty against LA Galaxy on Sunday. The side’s offensive output in California was enough to steal three points, however, and the crowd at BMO Field will welcome the side home as returning heroes after their 3-2 win in Los Angeles.

While Director of Soccer Mo Johnston and head coach John Carver were slow to bring in new faces over the offseason, they’ve come thick and fast in recent weeks, with the team’s poor performance in Columbus seemingly enough to spur on the signings of midfielders Laurent Robert, Amado Guevara and Rohan Ricketts. Both Robert, who had one game under his belt already, and Guevara were impressive in the LA win. Guevara set up Danny Dichio for the opening goal and Robert notched two assists in the course of the match, including a pinpoint pass for Jeff Cunningham to win the ball and finish past Steve Cronin late on.

Strikers Dichio, Cunningham and Jarrod Smith were all on the mark on Sunday, but fans are still hoping to see a young striker recruited in time for next week’s home game against Kansas City Wizards. Simon Lynch, the Scottish forward who was born in Montreal, has spent time with the Queensland Roar in Australia and would not count as an international on the Toronto roster. He has been rumoured to be a target for TFC.

As long as Dichio and Cunningham stay healthy, the front line has ample backup in Smith and Andrea Lombardo, but the starting duo could only garner 33 appearances between them in an injury-plagued 2007. Accordingly, ex-Newcastle United physio Paul Winsper has been brought in as a strength and conditioning coach, and his expertise appeared to show as Toronto stayed the sharper side in the California sun against Los Angeles.

Lombardo, the Canadian under-23 international, showed promise last season but may have been forced into extended first-team action too soon by the raft of injuries that faced Toronto. The Atalanta youth product has had success with Canada’s under-20 team but was largely restricted toto substitute appearances for Canada’s Olympic side in Beijing 2008 qualifying earlier this year.

With Toronto’s midfield finally set, the last pieces of the puzzle might consist in a starting centerback and more depth in the forward line, but it remains unlikely that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the club’s owners, will use their Designated Player spot in 2008. With five straight home games on the horizon and just three points under their belt thus far, TFC’s notorious home advantage will have to serve them well in the coming weeks. The Reds wrap up their home stand on May 21st with a chance to exact revenge on D.C. United for the 4-1 drubbing they suffered at RFK Stadium last weekend.

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