Tag Archive | "Toronto"

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Gerba, White debut as TFC lose to River Plate on PKs

Posted on 23 July 2009 by Mahmoud Shoblaq

Toronto FC came into this friendly match after a disappointing draw against Houston on Saturday. The River Plate match gave TFC’s young players a chance to play a full professional match. Some players saw action for the first time this season, while others went the 90 minute distance for the first time.

As such, Toronto’s starting lineup saw several changes:
Keeper: Brian Edwards
Defenders: Marvell Wynne, Emmanuel Gomez, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan
Midfielders: Pablo Vitti, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Gabe Gala
Forwards: Ali Gerba, Dwayne De Rosario

The first half was very dull, with the better of chances coming from Toronto FC. There was a definite disappointment as their chances were not put in the back of the net. TFC seemed relaxed at the start, which saw them possess more of the ball. River Plate on the other hand came strong and physical, trying shots from all angles none of which caused significant danger to Brian Edwards’ goal.

The second half was just as dull as the first, yet Toronto was kept on their toes as River Plate emerged stronger from the break, holding possession and creating pressure throughout.

It was an overall disappointing performance from Toronto FC, considering the fact that they were the better team. The chances should have been taken well when given; which would have led to a result in their favor.

Regulation Time Score: Toronto FC 0, River Plate 0
Penalty Kicks Score: Toronto FC 3, River Plate 4

The Reds will now head to Columbus to face the Columbus Crew for the last match up of their rivalry this season and the Trillium Cup decider. This will be another chance for Toronto to win some silver wear this season after losing to River Plate for their chance to capture the Carlsberg Cup. Toronto FC in their history so far has only managed to captured one title, that being the 2009Voyageurs Cup after winning the Canadian Championship.

Toronto FC ratings for players from 1 (low) to 10 (high), ranked by position:

Brian Edwards: 7
Was not tested much but was there when needed. When it came to the penalties he guessed every shot and was no where near them.

Marvell Wynne: 8
Did a lot of work up and down the field, his usual strong play. Saw a lot of the ball when he was in the game.

Nana Attakora: 7.5
Usual solid defending was hurt later on and taken off.

Nick Garcia: 7.5
Came on in the second half showed his usual controlling performance, and topped it off with a well taken penalty.

Emmanuel Gomez: 7.5
Great play by the youngster, small mistakes but recovered well.

Marco Velez: 7
One of his better games, will give the coaches some confidence in him. Had a lot of pressure on his back when stepping up to take the penalty, but should have done better.

Jim Brennan:  7.5
Usual performance, solid overall.

Carl Robinson:  7.5
Controlled the game well in the middle very vocal as usual. An unfortunate missed chance for him.

Amado Guevara: 7
One of his better games got his passes and crosses to the intended target but still could have done better overall.

Gabe Gala: 7
Was nervous and it showed, but had some good plays, unfortunate yellow card he did not deserve it. A missed chance in the second half will leave him disappointed.

Dwayne De Rosario:  8
As usual will always try to play well, and he had a great game even though he was let down a few times by his team.

Pablo Vitti: 8.5
Captained Toronto for the day, definitely gave him some confidence. One of his best performances for Toronto. He should have done better with his penalty. But he still got himself the Man of the Match recognition.

Chad Barrett: 7
Held the ball well, created some chances; no one was there to meet them. Took his penalty well.

Danny Dichio: 6.5
Made his presence felt, may have deserved a penalty for one of the challenges against him but the referee saw nothing in it. Nothing special today and no obvious chances, but definitely should have done better with his penalty and he knows it.

Ali Gerba: 6.5
My expectations were higher for him, a few missed chances that should have been in the back of the net. Made up for it with a well taken penalty.

O’Brian White: 6.5
I did not expect much from him coming off an injury, but he contributed well for his first game and created some danger. Nothing special though could have done better.

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Unfortunate blow as TFC draw Dynamo

Posted on 19 July 2009 by Mahmoud Shoblaq

Toronto FC knew the task coming into this match against Houston. After the road victory at San Jose, TFC was confident and showed fight from the start.

The Toronto FC lineup was left unchanged from the previous game.
Keeper: Stefan Frei
Defenders: Marvell Wynne, Nana Attakora, Nick Garcia, Adrian Serioux
Midfielders: Dwayne De Rosario, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Jim Brennan
Forwards: Chad Barrett, Pablo Vitti

With a slow start the game proceeded to become an entertaining encounter. TFC dominated the first half but the Dynamo came in strong in the second.  Toronto had the better chances and made them count by testing keeper Pat Onstad and putting more shots on target.

On some occasions a side of Toronto emerged that had not been seen before; they were organized keeping possession and completing their passes.

The first goal of the game came from Dwayne De Rosario; the pass from Marvel Wynne intending Danny Dichio who played a dummy through for Dwayne who took the goal beautifully. The score stayed as 1-0 at the end of the first half with Toronto FC leading.

As the second half began, the set pieces favored Houston. The unfortunate circumstances approached Toronto FC as they lost the lead from a bad clearance off a set piece that later saw a cross meet Boswell to get the shot on goal. After a wonderful save from Stefan Frei, the rebound was left for Boswell to score the goal and give Houston some hope of getting something out of the game.

The scoring chances kept coming but the score held still!

Final score: Toronto FC 1, Houston Dynamo 1

The Reds will now face off against River Plate on Wednesday for the annual Carlsberg Cup match held at BMO Field. They will then head to Columbus Crew for the last match up between the two teams of this season and the Trillium Cup decider. After Saturday’s MLS results Toronto FC dropped to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings. Adrian Serioux’s injury status is yet to be determined.

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

Toronto FC

Stefan Frei: 7.5
Gave Toronto a scare as he seemed hurt in the warm-up but started the game. He also had a knock early in the first half from Bsowell but stayed strong to continue in the game and deny Houston on various occasions.

Marvell Wynne: 7.5
An improvement on his behalf from the last game, was strong defensively and offensively. He also made a great assist.

Nana Attakora: 8
Strong play throughout, was there when needed to deny Houston chances. He showed everyone why he won TFC’s June Player of the Month.

Nick Garcia: 7
Controlled the defense well, yet an unnecessary yellow card.

Adrian Serioux: 7
For the time he was on before his injury, he had great contribution.

Dwayne De Rosario: 8.5
Was all over the pitch, controlled the ball and created great opportunities. A well deserved and taken goal against his former team.

Amado Guevara: 7.5
An improvement from his last performance and had great connective plays with Vitti.

Carl Robinson: 7
Played well and contributed well defensively and offensively.

Jim Brennan: 7
Contributed strongly and covered well in the back after Adrian’s injury and substitution.

Chad Barrett: 7
Had a few chances, definitely one of his better games but he was denied goals on several occasions.

Pablo Vitti: 7.5
Some very skillful playing and great connective play with Guevara.  An unnecessary yellow card.

Substitutions:
Danny Dichio: 7.5
Came on in the first half for Serioux, his presence was felt after playing the dummy through to Dwayne for the goal. Some missed opportunities will leave him disappointed.

Fuad Ibrahim: N/A
Came on for Barrett had little contribution.

Marco Velez: N/A
Came on for Vitti, had little to no contribution.

Houston Dynamo

Pat Onstad: 8
Made crucial saves, and had plenty to do to keep Houston in the game

Craig Waibel: 7
Played well defensively, unfortunate knock from Brennan early on but battled through it.

Bobby Boswell: 8
Ran into Frei early on, showed his presence up front and in the back. Took his chance well and followed through perfectly to get the goal. He also did well to deny TFC chances.

Geoff Cameron: 7
Assisted in some attacking plays and caused problems for TFC.

Julius James: 7.5
The former TFC player did very well in the back.

Mike Chabala: 7
Unfortunately had to experience the streamers and confetti from the TFC fans when taking the corner kicks, but did not let it get to his performance and played well. An unfortunate yellow card after being beat by De Rosario.

Corey Ashe: 6.5
His contribution was minimal but no mistakes were made when he had possession.

Brian Mullan: 6.5
Played well could have done better on some occasions.

Ricardo Clark: 7
Well played game.

Dominic Oduro: 7
Was denied access by the TFC defense on several occasion, but still managed to pull out a few chances.

Kei Kamara: 6.5
Was frustrated from the start due to some calls from the referee and was denied on several occasions. His frustration resulted in him receiving a yellow card for unsporting behavior. Yet he improved in the second half and was calmer.

Substitutions:
Danny Cruz: 6.5
Came in for Mullan and saw little of the ball, but did well when he had it.

Ade Akinbiyi: N/A
Came in for Waibel to support the attack but saw little of the ball and made minimum contribution.

Erik Ustruck: N/A
Came on for Oduro, but had little contribution.

Who do you believe was the Man of the Match against Houston?(poll)

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Toronto slips at home in battle of FCs

Posted on 04 August 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Kenny Cooper put Toronto FC to the sword on Sunday afternoon, scoring two late goals for FC Dallas to send John Carver’s side to their first Major League Soccer loss at home in 2008. TFC are falling fast after a great start to the season and now look likely to miss out on the playoffs unless they can turn things around.

Click here for our Dallas correspondent Phillip Woodruff’s take on Sunday’s game.

The sun was bearing down on BMO Field on a hot summer afternoon, fostering a sluggish start to the game from both sides. Toronto were taking the initiative through Rohan Ricketts and Jim Brennan’s overlapping runs down the left flank, but the FC Dallas defenders were able to keep goalkeeper Dario Sala from too much trouble in the early stages.

FCD coach Schellas Hyndman was forced into an early change in just the 6th minute, bringing in Michael Dello-Russo for midfielder Marcelo Saragosa, who was forced to leave the game with a calf strain.

The best chance of the first half came from Toronto’s centerback Marco Vélez, who found himself alone on the end of a Laurent Robert corner in the 19th minute but could only hit a bouncing shot straight at Sala.

Just moments later, Vélez made contact with Sala jumping for another corner, leaving the Dallas keeper winded and needing a few minutes, enough time for referee Baldomero Toledo to hand Vélez a yellow card. Replays showed that the contact appeared incidental at worst and hardly malicious.

The second half started lively, with both sides eager to make the breakthrough. Just after the hour mark, Bruno Guarda entered the game for Dallas and Tyler Hemming replaced Julius James in the Toronto lineup, instantly making his mark with several darting runs down the right flank.

It marked an interesting turnaround for the London, Ontario native, as Hemming had left the club earlier this season to pursue opportunites in Europe. With Jarrod Smith’s promotion to the senior roster, however, Hemming was able to rejoin the club as a senior development player and has made the most of that opportunity.

New signing Chad Barrett came close for the Reds in the 69th minute, collecting a headed clearance in the area and lashing a shot over Sala’s goal. The former Chicago striker appeared to have strained a calf muscle in the play and was substituted for Jarrod Smith after another lengthy delay.

The game’s real talking point came at the turn of the 79th minute, however. Kenny Cooper was looking for space on the left side when the whistle blew for an apparent off-the-ball incident in the 18-yard-box involving Amado Guevara and Pablo Ricchetti. Guevara sent the Argentine tumbling to the ground and was given a straight red card while Ricchetti tended a bloody nose.

photo credit: Chris Hazard

The foul took place in the penalty area, leaving FCD with an opportunity to take the lead from 12 yards. Cooper stutter-stepped to the spot and easily sent Sutton the wrong way, taking the lead and seemingly condemning 10-man Toronto to a first league defeat at home this season.

Toronto’s players were incensed with the call, with captain Brennan leading the protests and subsequently booked for dissent. Vélez contested another seemingly routine throw-in decision just minutes later too vigorously for Toledo, who issued the Puerto Rican his second yellow card, reducing TFC to nine men.

Amid coach John Carver’s protests, Toledo made his way to the sidelines and bizarrely sent off Toronto physio Carmelo Lobue.

Five minutes of stoppage time was greeted with ironic applause from the home fans, but their enthusiasm was short-lived as Cooper struck just seconds after the 90th minute mark. The free-scoring striker found space with two defenders ahead of him and struck a 30-yard shot at Sutton, who dove to his right but couldn’t keep out the bouncing ball.

Again, the Canadian goalkeeper looked as though he should have done better with the chance. The club’s recent streak may have dented Sutton’s confidence and could open the door for American prospect Brian Edwards to get the call in Colorado on Saturday.

Photo credit: Tim Drodge

Toronto’s ill-discipline may have done them in once again, but club captain Jim Brennan had other ideas.

“I think we’ve done alright, but the game got spoiled a little bit,” he said afterwards. “It was an entertaining game, we had them pinned in the second half there and we had a great chance, we felt we were going to score. Then, certain things happen and it wrecks the game, and that’s what happened today.”

FC Dallas defender and Canadian international Adrian Serioux had his own interpretation of events:

“It’s always good to come back and play in front of family and friends and get a result that we needed badly. You know it’s a great atmosphere and I’m sure the fans were behind their team, but when certain players on your team aren’t disciplined, as they were tonight, it’s costly, and that’s what happened to them.”

Coach Carver was reserved in his criticism of the officials, preferring to focus instead on the roster problems affecting Toronto.

“It’s frightening,” he told reporters after the game. “We only had 5 on the bench. There’s a reason for that, they’ve got to prove to me that they’re good enough to play and get on the bench… I think we might have to get (Academy coach and former Canadian international) Nick Dasovic to put his boots on!”

Carver refused to blame Barrett for the team’s scoring woes.

“He did some good things… I think he’s more of a poacher, he’s not a spectacular goal-man… The more he gets to know the guys the more he’ll get on, and I think he’s got goals in him. He needs to work on his fitness.”

With Sunday’s defeat, Toronto sit precariously in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference, one point outside of the playoff reckoning with a game in hand over Los Angeles Galaxy.

The top two sides in each division will be seeded against the next-best four teams regardless of conference, leaving Toronto in a cross-division battle with the Galaxy, Chivas USA, Kansas City Wizards, Red Bull New York, Colorado Rapids and even outsiders San Jose Earthquakes for the last playoff spot. Just five points separate the eight-placed Galaxy from historical rivals San Jose in last place, who stole a 3-2 win over David Beckham and company on the weekend.

Toronto’s next chance to close the gap comes at Dick’s Sporting Goods park in Colorado on Saturday, a potentially must-win game for either side as they try to secure playoff action after missing out last season.

Match Facts

FC Dallas (6-6-7) vs. Toronto FC (6-8-4)
August 3, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:
FCD — Kenny Cooper 12 (penalty kick [Ricchetti]) 81
FCD — Kenny Cooper 13 (unassisted) 90+1

FC Dallas Dario Sala, Drew Moor, Aaron Pitchkolan, Blake Wagner, Adrian Serioux, Andre Rocha (Bruno Guarda 64), Eric Avila, Pablo Ricchetti, Marcelo Saragosa (Michael Dello-Russo 7), Kenny Cooper, Dominic Oduro (Abe Thompson 74).

Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Daniels, Mike Graczyk, Jamie Watson, Chase Wileman

Toronto FC — Greg Sutton, Julius James (Tyler Hemming 65), Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Rohan Ricketts, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Laurent Robert, Chad Barrett (Jarrod Smith 70), Jeff Cunningham (Kevin Harmse 87).

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Tyler Rosenlund

Misconduct Summary:
TOR — Marco Velez (caution; Reckless Foul) 27
DAL — Andre Rocha (caution; Reckless Foul) 57
TOR — Amado Guevara (ejection; Violent Conduct) 79
TOR — Jim Brennan (caution; Dissent) 81
TOR — Marco Velez (ejection; Second Caution) 84

Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Referee’s Assistants: C.J. Morgante; Adam Wienckowski
4th official: Jorge Gonzalez
Time of game: 1:56
Attendance: 20,247
Weather: Sunny -and- 77 degrees

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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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Reds misfire at home

Posted on 19 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC could only draw visiting San Jose Earthquakes 0-0 on Saturday, the fifth straight game at home they’ve failed to win. Kansas City, Vancouver Whitecaps and friendly opponents Pachuca and Independiente have all avoided defeat at BMO Field in the last month.

It was a listless performance by the two youngest teams in Major League Soccer thanks to a hot, humid afternoon at Exhibition Place stifling what little creative play was on offer.

Toronto boss John Carver made a couple of changes from the squad that fell 2-1 in Chicago last week, with youngsters Tyler Rosenlund and Abdus Ibrahim coming into the starting lineup. San Jose, coached by assistant Ian Russell after Frank Yallop’s suspension last week, brought new signings Francisco Lima, Scott Sealy and Darren Huckerby straight into the team.

As early as the ninth minute, Toronto had a “goal” ruled out long after the whistle had gone on an apparent offside by Ibrahim. Replays showed that the assistant to referee Paul Ward was mistaken.

It was midfield ace Amado Guevara who had the best chance of the first half, blazing over an open goal when Quakes goalkeeper Joe Cannon could only punch Marvell Wynne’s low cross into the Honduran’s path. Guevara was doing his best to bring the game to life with neat passing and a touch of flair but couldn’t keep the game from going into the break scoreless.

{democracy:14}

The muggy conditions ensured that the second half started just as the first had ended. The game’s major talking point came in the 69th minute when Ibrahim was hauled down in the 18-yard-box trying to get on the end of a cross. It looked like typical penalty area argy-bargy on second viewing, but Toronto were happy for the rare opportunity to test Cannon.

Guevara had hardly put a foot wrong all game but with the weight of the stadium on his shoulders, his effort from the spot was blocked with relative ease. The shot had power but was almost straight at the waiting Cannon, reminiscent of Collin Samuel’s wasted penalty in the season opener at Columbus, Toronto’s only previous trip to the spot all season.

Jim Cunningham was brought on seconds later to try and bring some bite to the Toronto attack, but it was too late for the 99-goal man to make an impact on the game.

With crucial matches approaching in the Canadian Championship and MLS in the coming weeks, John Carver will have to bring some bite into the Toronto attack. Tuesday brings the visit of Montreal Impact, with a win vital for TFC to claim the Voyageurs Cup and a spot in CONCACAF Champions League qualifying.

TFC may have become overconfident at home having gone undefeated at fortress BMO in MLS play, but with losses in friendly action and the Canadian Championship and two straight 0-0 draws in the league, fans in Toronto have forgotten what its like to see their team win. With more away matches than home ties scheduled for the remainder of the season, more firepower is needed fast before the Reds will have to bid their playoff hopes goodbye.

Match Facts

San Jose Earthquakes (3-9-5) vs. Toronto FC (6-6-4)
July 19, 2008 — BMO Field

Scoring Summary:
San Jose Earthquakes — Joe Cannon, James Riley, Ryan Cochrane, Jason Hernandez, Eric Denton, Francisco Lima (Kelly Gray 63), Ramiro Corrales, Darren Huckerby (Kei Kamara 64), Ronnie O’Brien, Ryan Johnson, Scott Sealy (John Cunliffe 94+).

Substitutes Not Used: Ned Grabavoy, Ivan Guerrero, David Monsalves, Shea Salinas

Toronto FC — Greg Sutton, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Rohan Ricketts, Carl Robinson, Tyler Rosenlund (Jeff Cunningham 70), Laurent Robert, Amado Guevara, Abdus Ibrahim.

Substitutes Not Used: Nana Attakora-Gyan, Brian Edwards, Gabe Gala, Tyler Hemming, Julius James, Jarrod Smith

Misconduct Summary:
TOR — Abdus Ibrahim (caution; Delaying a Restart) 18
SJ — Jason Hernandez (caution; Pushing, Holding) 26

Referee: Paul Ward
Referee’s Assistants: Joe Fletcher; Daniel Belleau
4th official: Steven DePiero
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 20,264
weather: Partly Cloudy -and- 84 degrees

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Reeling from D.C. trip, TFC travel to Montreal

Posted on 26 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Just three days after twice giving up the lead in a 3-2 loss in Washington, Toronto FC will visit Montreal Impact at Stade Saputo on Tuesday night to kick off the 2008 Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

In the 13th minute at RFK Stadium, Danny Dichio scored with a close-range header from Jim Brennan’s cross, grabbing a goal from TFC’s first shot on target. D.C. struck back just four minutes before the half, with Gonzalo Peralta getting on the end of Devon McTavish’s flick-on at the far post. Peralta stooped low and headed in from close range to seemingly settle things up before halftime.

Dichio had other ideas, however, and just minutes later he played a give-and-go with Amado Guevara before sending a low shot into the bottom left corner of Zach Wells’ goal to stun the home crowd.

Toronto held on in the second half until the 70th minute, when a marauding Santino Quaranta was felled by a clumsy shove in the area by Marvell Wynne. Jaime Moreno stepped up to take the resulting penalty and calmly slotted past Greg Sutton, a familiar sight for TFC fans who saw the Bolivian tie the MLS all-time scoring charts with a penalty at BMO Field last season.

Quaranta would be credited with another assist just two minutes later as D.C. finally took the lead. Quaranta, who played with D.C. earlier in his career before returning for the 2008 season, unleashed a blast from outside the area that Greg Sutton couldn’t hold onto. The ball fell to the feet of the onrushing Luciano Emilio and the 2007 Golden Boot winner wasted no time in finishing past Sutton.

Tom Soehn and the United bench erupted in a mixture of relief and excitement, while it was difficult to see Toronto getting anything from the match. Dichio’s positional play and cool finishing were not as effective when TFC had to fight a side trying to preserve a lead, with Jeff Cunningham and Jarrod Smith making late cameos to try and rescue a point.

It was not to be, and the club’s six-match unbeaten run, coupled with Sutton’s clean sheet streak, came to an end. The stadium has so far proved unwelcoming for Toronto, as the young side have yet gain a point from RFK in their history.

“They have had a good result tonight,” TFC head coach John Carver told MLSNet. “I can see them going on a run now. Tom [Soehn] is a good coach, a good manager, and [runs] a good organization. People have to be patient with him… he has too many good players for him to be at the bottom of the league.”

Carver refused to blame Sutton for the mistake. “Greg has been outstanding for our football club,” he told reporters. “He has been one of the reasons why we have so many points and have won so many games lately… take the mistake away from it, he still had a great night. I said to him as soon as the final whistle blew, ‘don’t let that worry you, it’s about us picking ourselves up. We have a great run…’ we have now got to go on another run and we have a huge game on Tuesday.”

TFC will have picked themselves up for the trip to Montreal, where they’ll play l’Impact in the first match of the inaugural Canadian Championship. Fellow United Soccer Leagues Division One side Vancouver Whitecaps will join them in the three-team round robin tournament.

Last week’s stadium opener, a regular-season USL clash between Montreal and Vancouver, ended 0-0 in a result that will not affect Canadian Championship standings. The draw means that Toronto enter Saputo knowing that the game’s opening goal will be the first in stadium history. Having conceded that honour at BMO Field to Kansas City’s Eddie Johnson last season, entering the history books at Saputo would be a welcome tonic for TFC fans.

The two sides have started the season with contrasting fortunes, as Toronto have racked up four wins while Montreal are sitting at just 7 points from six games. Don’t let their early season form fool you into thinking TFC will have it easy — the club have never won against USL opposition, having drawn or lost in pre- and post-season friendlies against the likes of Charleston Battery and Portland Timbers.

For their part, Montreal have yet to play an MLS side, having been left out of the U.S. Open Cup along with Canadian USL sides from Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton throughout the last decade.

The winner of the Canadian Championship will gain entry into the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League and be awarded the Voyageurs Cup, the trophy handed to the top professional Canadian soccer franchise since 2002. Traditionally, Canadian supporters the Voyageurs used USL-1 regular season results to determine the winner, a format that has seen Montreal win all six titles to date. The Canadian Soccer Association has since been loaned the prize and will award it to the Canadian champions, a label Montreal that will be desperate to keep, especially if it means getting one over on their traditional sporting rivals in Toronto.

The motivation will be high because it’s a different championship for us,” Montreal head coach Nick De Santis told MontrealImpact.com. “There is also a pride factor for us to play an MLS team and to do so at home.”

Two former TFC players are a part of the Impact roster for 2008, with right back Adam Braz joined by Cristian Nuñez, the young midfielder who didn’t see any first team action in Toronto’s expansion season last year.

For his part, Braz was looking forward to Tuesday’s match. “It’s always special when you play your former team, but more importantly, it’s a big game for our club,” he said in an interview with the club’s website. “It’s a huge event for the Impact, and we want to represent Canada at the CONCACAF Champions League. You always want to be the best, so that should give everyone added incentive to show that we are capable to beat [TFC].”

Greg Sutton came the other way ahead of the 2007 season after protracted negotiations between TFC and the Impact but only played eight games last season before suffering a concussion at Gold Cup training with Canada. He’s since been in fine form for Toronto in 2008 and should relish the chance to notch a clean sheet against his former club.

Midfielders Maurice Edu and Amado Guevara will not travel with TFC, having been called up to national team duty this week. Edu will play with the United States in a friendly at Wembley Stadium against host side England and LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham.

With international call-ups and the upcoming spate of games in a short time, Toronto’s depth will be tested. Carver has expressed his reservations about a squad rotation system, but the likes of Cunningham and midfielders Tyler Rosenlund and Kevin Harmse will likely be called into action at some point in the coming weeks.

Following the Montreal trip, Toronto welcome a Beckham-less Galaxy to BMO Field on Saturday. Their next Canadian Championship matches come in a home-and-away series against Vancouver on Canada Day and July 8th, respectively. Toronto will close out the tournament, and hope to lift the trophy, in front of their home fans on July 22nd against Montreal.

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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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Tough Toronto Awaits League Leaders

Posted on 15 May 2008 by Jim Baird

Two of the hottest teams in the MLS will square off at a rowdy BMO Field this Saturday as the league leading Columbus Crew (6-1-0) take to the pitch against Toronto F.C. (3-2-1).

Both clubs hope to continue their impressive form.

Columbus is off to the best start in club history, winning their past five games and currently sitting atop the East. Toronto has not lost since April 5, winning three out of their last four games, a far cry from their expansion woes only a year ago.

This game is the second of three match-ups between the clubs this season, and if the Crew win they will claim the first ever Trillium Cup. The Trillium Cup is the first annual trophy awarded to the winner of the Toronto-Columbus series during the regular season. The Crew won the first meeting of the year 2-0.

But a win at BMO won’t be easy. Toronto is undefeated at home this year (2-0-1) and their boisterous fans at BMO create one of the toughest and loudest environments to play in. The Crew have yet to beat a .500 team on the road this season, their last effort was a lethargic 2-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls, the team’s only defeat of the season.

No matter what the crowd decibel level is, Toronto’s defense will face a tough challenge trying to stop the Crew’s league leading offense, driven by Robbie Rogers. Rogers notched MLS Player of The Week honors after his two goal performance in the Crew’s 3-2 come-from-behind victory against San Jose on Saturday. It was also his 21st birthday.

Game Info

Time: 4:00 p.m. Saturday, May 17

TV: CSN (local), DK, MLSLive.tv

Radio: 610 AM WTVN (Local)

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Red Bulls earn point in stalemate

Posted on 02 May 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Toronto FC started their third straight home match on Thursday night in the same style as they finished the last two, scoring early through Marco Vélez but conceding a first-half free kick that levelled the scores at 1-1. As the rain fell and the plastic pitch at BMO Field became more difficult to play on, each side looked increasingly content to play out the draw.

{democracy}


Red Bulls fans vote here.

With the home fans slowly streaming into the stadium to make the 7 PM kick off, made worse by the conditions and the resulting traffic around Toronto’s Exhibition Place, both sides struggled to assert themselves in the early stages.

The game came to life in the 20th minute when Jim Brennan was fouled on the left side of the penalty area. With Amado Guevara and Laurent Robert hovering, the New York defense looked unsure how to defend it. Robert sent in a curling cross, and Marco Vélez popped up at the far post unmarked to power a header past Red Bulls keeper Jon Conway.

His first Major League Soccer goal was proudly celebrated by Vélez, who faced criticism early in the season but has since shown signs that he can be a proven MLS defender in Toronto. The Puerto Rican has experience in USL-1 but has at times struggled to keep up to the pace of the opposition so far in his first season at the highest level.

Just as Toronto were beginning to play some free-flowing football in spite of the worsening conditions, New York struck. Reds defender Tyrone Marshall was adjudged to have handled just outside the box, with the visitors lining up the resulting free kick. As Guevara stepped in to help line up his defensive wall, Red Bulls fans may have felt a tinge of nostalgia at seeing the Honduran standing over a New York set piece.

All sentiment aside, Dave van den Bergh sent a left-footed strike into the only gap the Reds had left open. Greg Sutton was unable to stretch far enough to keep the low strike out of the back of the net.

Both sides pressed for a go-ahead goal in the first half, but the slick field made passing more and more difficult. Adding to that, New York lost their talismanic midfielder Claudio Reyna through a leg injury at half-time, replacing the former Rangers and Manchester City man with Sinisa Ubiparovic.

After the break, the most exciting moment of the second half came when Laurent Robert shoved Hunter Freeman to the ground after being fouled by Jozy Altidore. The French winger received a booking from referee Abbey Okulaja but was lucky to stay on the field.

As the match neared completion, it became apparent that New York were largely satisfied with a point and Toronto were increasingly powerless to stop them. Amado Guevara brought the home fans to their feet with a late volley after forcing a turnover from the Red Bulls defence, but the dipping strike fell right into the hands of Conway.

One positive from the performance for Toronto was their ability to contain the highly-touted strike force of Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel.

New York boss Juan Carlos Osorio was as vocal as ever in directing his players, but was unable to force much of an attacking impetus as the match went on. The Colombian’s side were the first to so much as score at BMO Field this summer, ending the home side’s 100% home record but leaving their unbeaten status intact.

Toronto will enjoy a two week break from action until May 17th, a home tie against Columbus Crew that will signify the start of five games in 14 days, including a trip to Montreal Impact on May 27th for the inaugural tie in the Canada Cup. Along with Vancouver Whitecaps, TFC and l’Impact will be hoping to secure the 2008 trophy and a resulting spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

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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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