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Thunderstruck: RSL hand Galaxy first defeat of the season

Posted on 10 June 2010 by Patrick McShane

Lightening struck twice for Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night as they overcame a 37-minute lightening storm delay to later claim a controversial goal and a hard-fought 1-0 victory over league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy. With the victory RSL not only handed the Galaxy their first loss of the season, but they also continue their hot form as they are undefeated in their past seven matches and unbeaten at home in over 16 league matches. While the validity of the game-winning goal can be questioned, RSL were easily the better side all night long and continually put themselves into position to earn the victory.

Comparable to a grudge match between two gladiators rather than a beautiful display, the match carried a physical and urgent tone from the opening whistle and never let up. The Galaxy demonstrated why they’re running away with the Supporters’ Shield this season, remaining organized and tactically smart throughout the match despite missing many of their stars due to World Cup duty or injury. Comparatively, RSL did a valiant job breaking down the Galaxy defensive front throughout the match, earning 6 corner kicks in the first half alone, and created the majority of the dangerous chances throughout the match.

After the match, RSL coach Jason Kreis acknowledged the difficulties they face while trying to overcome a tough Galaxy side. “I just think they’re a really mature, composed, compact, and organized team defensively. They make things extremely difficult to break down. As I saw tonight, it was extremely difficult to get that goal. Interesting that it comes off a bit of a misplay.”

Much of the match was played in the middle of the pitch with both squads trying to make something magical happen in hopes of surprising their opponents. This resulted in a great deal of sloppy play by both sides and most of the attempts on goal coming from either long-range blasts or haphazard chaos in the box after a miscue. RSL finally found the much-desired breakthrough in the 80th minute after a nice bit of combination play between Alvaro Saborío, Javier Morales, and substitute Pablo Campos coupled with a questionable decision by referee Edvin Jurisevic.

Despite the nifty passing and interplay, Campos found himself deep in the Galaxy’s defensive third with nowhere to go. While Campos cut back to try and find an open space to pass or shoot, Galaxy midfielder Michael Stephens was able to catch up and knock the ball away. Unfortunately for Galaxy fans, and particularly keeper Donovan Ricketts, the deflected ball fell to Morales who had little work to do to casually slot the ball home thanks to being in what appeared to be a painfully offside position. While the Galaxy squad reacted in anger to the allowed goal, RSL players and the 19,513 fans in attendance celebrated a hard-fought and meaningful result.

The remainder of the match was an intense and heated affair, with both sides exchanging words and almost coming to blows on multiple occasions. Galaxy midfielder Juninho highlighted the anxiety of the final minutes with a goal-bound blast from 25 yards out that required a frantic diving save from RSL keeper Nick Rimando. Despite the pressure and final flurry it was RSL’s night as stoppage time wound down. RSL enter the much needed World Cup break on a high and now have the ability to heal and hope to get back many of the injured players they have lost over the past two weeks. Noted Kreis: “We end up on a really positive note. I am really pleased with where we are right now. We can take a little bit of a breather now and relax and enjoy some time off.”

REAL SALT LAKE (7-3-2, 23 pts.) v. LOS ANGELES GALAXY (10-1-2, 32 pts.)
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9, 2010 – RIO TINTO STADIUM

Scoring Summary:
RSL – Javier Morales 4 (unassisted) 80

Misconduct Summary:
LA — Juninho (caution; Tactical Foul) 20
RSL — Andy Williams (caution; Tactical Foul) 63
?RSL — Javier Morales (caution; Shirt Removal) 81
?LA — Omar Gonzalez (caution; Tactical Foul) 85 ?
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Los Angeles Galaxy (4-4-2) — Donovan Ricketts, Sean Franklin, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Michael Stephens, Chris Birchall, Juninho, Alex Cazumba (Eddie Lewis 78), Jovan Kirovski (Clint Mathis 63), Tristan Bowen (Alan Gordon 72).

Statistics: SHOTS: 7 (Juninho 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players with 1); SAVES: 2 (Ricketts 2); FOULS: 12 (3 players with 2); CORNERS: 4 (Mathis 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Dunivant, Kirovski 1)
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Real Salt Lake (4-4-2) — Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran (Chris Wingert 60), Andy Williams (Collen Warner 78), Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales, Will Johnson, Alvaro Saborío, Fabian Espíndola (Pablo Campos 64).

Statistics: SHOTS: 9 (3 players with 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 players with 1); SAVES: 3 (Rimando 3); FOULS: 11 (Saborío 4); CORNERS: 10 (Morales 9); OFFSIDES: 1 (Saborío 1)

Referee: Edvin Jurisevic
Referee’s Assistants: Frank Anderson; Eric Proctor
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Weather: Cloudy-and-78-degrees / Attendance: 19,513

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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Soaring Crew visit BMO

Posted on 15 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC and Columbus Crew will renew hostilities in the Trillium Cup on Saturday, with Toronto getting their chance to host their newfound rivals after a 2-0 loss in Columbus to begin the season on March 29th.

Since then, both sides have been in top form early this season after a momentary hiccup. Both sides lost their next match but Columbus have since recorded five straight wins while Toronto have gone on to a 3-1-0 record.

They’re not alone, however, with six of the seven Eastern Conference sides sitting at .500 or above. A win for Toronto on Saturday would put them five points back of Columbus at the league summit but with a game in hand and restore hope of winning the inaugural Trillium Cup.

The competition, which will be decided on the teams’ three regular-season encounters this season, will conclude later this season at BMO Field. If Columbus win the upcoming clash they’ll have an unassailable lead in the Trillium Cup standings despite facing another trip to Toronto on September 13th.

A win for the Crew would also represent Toronto’s first home defeat of the season. The draw with New York two weeks ago ruined an 100% record at BMO Field but John Carver’s men have yet to taste defeat since their home opener in April.

If the wheels are going to come off Columbus’ excellent league run, BMO Field may be the place for it. The typically buoyant home crowd will be in full voice on Saturday, with the burgeoning rivalry between both sets of fans exacerbated by the large amounts of Toronto fans who made the trip to Columbus earlier this year.

Injuries certainly haven’t helped Crew manager Sigi Schmid, with Duncan Oughton, Adam Moffat and Stefan Miglioranzi all sidelined for Saturday’s encounter.

Once again, Toronto aren’t reporting any injuries, a remarkable turnaround from last season and a testament to the physical training methods of the club’s new fitness coach John Winsper.

Joining the former Newcastle physio last week were staff members Nick Dasovic and Chris Cummins, reported on ASN last month and just recently made official by TFC.

One player that will hope to make a difference on the turf at BMO is Robbie Rogers, the most recent MLS Player of the Week based on his two goals in Columbus’ 3-2 win in San Jose last weekend. Argentine midfielder-forward Guillermo Barros-Schelotto was also on target for Schmid’s men, who will travel to Toronto as the team to beat in MLS.

With a clean injury list, Toronto’s selection dilemma lies in who to start up front. Danny Dichio has a goal to his credit this season but has been lonely up front in a 4-5-1 formation, and with four more games in two weeks following Saturday’s clash, Carver may be looking to reap the benefits of squad rotation.

Jeff Cunningham and Andrea Lombardo have been restricted to substitute appearances this season but could see starting time sooner rather than later, with Toronto balancing MLS play with their first Canada Cup appearance in Montreal on the 27th.

Amado Guevara, Rohan Ricketts and Laurent Robert are likely to reprise their roles as an attacking midfield trident for Toronto. None of the trio were TFC players yet during the club’s trip to Columbus in March.

Another new arrival has been defender Olivier Tébily, but the Ivorian has seen his playing time blocked by the stunning turnaround in Marco Vélez’s performances at the heart of Toronto’s back line. The Puerto Rican scored a free header against New York, with his own upturn in fortunes helping the club to a goals-against record of just 1 in their three home matches so far in 2008.

Between the sticks

Greg Sutton is set to start his fifth straight match for the club, having recovered from the trauma of being passed over in the early-season trip to Columbus in favour of draft pick Brian Edwards. The two straight clean sheets he recorded in the run-up to New York’s vist early this month pushed him past Kenny Stamatopoulos as the all-time shutout leader in Toronto’s short existence.

Crew stopper Will Hesmer

Will Hesmer has started every match for the Crew this season, conceding nine goals but making the difference on numerous occasions for his side. The 26-year-old made several important stops, including a penalty save, against Toronto in March.

A win against Columbus would improve Toronto’s home record to 3-1-0 ahead of another revenge mission next week, the visit of D.C. United to BMO Field in the last of a five-game home stand for Toronto. United were 4-1 winners at RFK Stadium in the second game of Toronto’s season, a match that marked not only Laurent Robert’s debut but Maurice Edu’s late consolation goal, a strike that seems to have marked a turning point for TFC this season.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus will kick off at 4 PM EST on CBC in Canada. Visit here for the Crew’s perspective.

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New era at TFC?

Posted on 13 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC fan sites were flooded with words of praise for the club on Sunday night, as those who weren’t part of the few that travelled to Los Angeles this weekend jumped online to celebrate their club’s first win of 2008. Read the full match report here.

The win gives TFC their first points of 2008, tightening things up in the Eastern conference early on and showing a vast improvement on the side’s 0 and 4 start to last year’s campaign. Three points from as many away matches is a decent return for the Reds, but having lost to two of their Eastern Conference rivals in the past two weeks meant that John Carver had to find a way to motivate his side to earn a result in Los Angeles.

The Galaxy had the best of the early exchanges but Greg Sutton was on hand to deny Landon Donovan on more than one occasion. Danny Dichio scored late in the first half after the Galaxy defence failed to clear a long ball from Guevara, but a lack of composure from the away side seemed to be at fault for Donovan’s quick equalizer. In the second, Jarrod Smith regained the lead for Toronto but a Donovan penalty pegged it back. In the late stages under the California sun, Jeff Cunningham’s late finish made it 3-2, and finally the Reds were able to hold on.

{democracy:4}

Toronto’s recent signings didn’t gel right away, getting overrun at times in the first half, but Greg Sutton’s goalkeeping kept the match in reach for his teammates. A lack of teamwork may have been at fault with Donovan’s instant reply to Dichio’s strike, but new boys Smith and Guevara shone in the second half.

Not only was it Toronto’s second away win in their short history, but this match may have marked a turning point for the young franchise in being the first time they had won largely against the run of play. The smash-and-grab raid reflected the Toronto forwards’ willingness to take their chances, which came with increasing frequency as Laurent Robert and Guevara asserted themselves in the midfield.

The one-touch passing in the side’s build-up to the third goal, after 80 minutes under intense heat, was a joy to watch — for arguably the first time since Toronto’s 4-0 win over FC Dallas last season, they were playing the beautiful game, well, beautifully. Guevara and Maurice Edu in particular were impressive in the center of the park.

One flaw in Toronto’s game was the slack defending from Marco Vélez, who may have lost concentration in the heat when he clumsily handled David Beckham’s cross to concede the penalty from which Donovan scored his second equalizer. Andy Boyens, the Kiwi centerback who made 23 appearances last season, has yet to play this year and is rumoured to be on his way out of the club to make room for the recent senior international signings.

Galaxy fans may have pointed to Cunningham’s manhandling of the last man back just ahead of his goal at the death, but in truth that goal had come just minutes after Beckham was lucky to avoid a call after making contact with a streaking Cunningham just outside the box.

Marvell Wynne covered a lot of ground on the right side and is quickly establishing himself as one of the league’s best fullbacks. Carver will be hard-pressed to adjust to his departure to the Beijing Olympics along with Maurice Edu later this year, with Kevin Harmse and youth player Nana Attakora-Gyan the immediate options to replace Wynne.

With three points in the bag, Toronto will be confident ahead of their home opener against Real Salt Lake on the 19th — but one look at the standings reveals just how competitive the league is. After TFC’s win, only four points separated first from seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Rohan Ricketts has joined up with the squad and may start against Salt Lake, while rumours of Olivier Tébily taking Vélez’s starting spot in the backline before next week persist on fan sites. If the club’s performance against the LA weather, players and arguably the official is anything to go by, they may make a serious push for a debut appearance in the league playoffs come October.

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TFC, new signings head to Hollywood circus

Posted on 11 April 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC’s 0 and 2 start to the 2008 Major League Soccer season has some fans looking angrily back towards last year’s inaugural campaign, where they lost their first four matches going scoreless in the process. A 2-0 loss in Chivas last year was followed by a 4-0 rout in New England, and it was deja vu this year, with the club falling by a deuce in Columbus and looking set to lose by four at DC United. There was one crucial difference, however, as Maurice Edu popped up at the death to send a looping header past United keeper Zach Wells to make it 4-1 — a minor blip on the scoresheet, perhaps, but a moment that could resonate with the confidence of Edu and his TFC teammates.

Ahead of Sunday’s visit to LA Galaxy, Edu, who was last season’s rookie of the year, will be joined in the midfield by two new arrivals. Laurent Robert joined the club in time to take part in the DC loss and looked bright, but it was a case of being the best of a bad bunch against the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup semifinalists. Another attacking player, Amado Guevara, has been signed in time for the LA trip and is likely to slot in at the head of a five-man midfield with Edu and Carl Robinson behind him.

The Honduran midfielder, 2005 league MVP with New York Red Bull, has been playing in his native country with Motagua after falling out with Chivas USA management at the start of last season. While his temperament means that the top MLS clubs weren’t lining up to re-sign the enigmatic midfielder, the BMO Field faithful are hoping that a sold out stadium with a passionate fan base will bring the best out of Guevara. Until his signing, the club were lacking options in midfield, forced to play either a flat four or a five-man line with youngster Tyler Hemming in the center.

With the midfield set, the only question marks for the Reds relates to the starting positions at the front and back. Head coach John Carver will have to choose between Jeff Cunningham’s pace and Danny Dichio’s power at the business end of the pitch, while defenders Tyrone Marshall and Marco Velez weren’t at their best in Washington, conceding two goals in the first six minutes. The alternative, New Zealand international defender Andrew Boyens, doesn’t seem to have made an impression on Carver in preseason despite a fine 2007 campaign.
More signings could be on the way to Toronto. Former Birmingham defender Olivier Tébily has been spotted on trial in the Queen City having dinner with Robert. The French defender would offer much-needed stability to the back line, and will have been hoping to impress Carver along with fellow triallist Rohan Ricketts. The ex-Barnsley winger would fill a gap on the right side of TFC’s midfield.

For Los Angeles, starting a season with a healthy David Beckham is better than any new signing, although new arrival Carlos Ruiz has provided much-needed ammunition up front. Along with Landon Donovan, Beckham struck against traditional rivals San Jose Earthquakes last week to earn the club’s first win of 2008. LA will be looking to make it two wins from two at the Home Depot Center and pass the .500 mark after starting the season with a 4-0 loss in Colorado.

Each squad has one player who might have some inside information on the opposition. Canadian Kevin Harmse was a regular in Ruud Gullit’s Galaxy squad last season, the hard-tackling foil to Beckham and Donovan’s flair. He joined up with Toronto in the offseason, and while Harmse will miss out on the LA game after his ejection in DC, his knowledge of their tactics will almost certainly have been utilized by the TFC management. Striker Edson Buddle went in the opposite direction early last season, and much has changed at both clubs since his move, but he knows first-hand what it’s like playing alongside Danny Dichio and — from this brief spell in New York — Amado Guevara.

Much is at stake for both sides, with Toronto eager to enter their home opener on April 19th with at least one point in the bag. Finding a winning momentum early on could be the difference in TFC’s playoff hunt. For manager Gullit and his Los Angeles side, every home game means pressure to succeed in front of the HDC crowd and the world media. Much will depend on how quickly the Canadian club’s new signings adjust to life in their new surroundings, with a trial by fire awaiting them in LA.

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