Stars Soccer Review (SSR) Match
Reds defeat Cruz Azul in
Champions League Opener
Toronto FC make noise before small crowd
year coach Preki, is
mark in the
Cruz Azul of
at BMO Field
in its first
group game. The
to the group
after a 1-0
home and a
2-2 tie in
big win last
what seem to be the
crowd at BMO Field
spite of the
ball and jumped
After pressing forward the Reds took the lead on
Martin Saric's header in the 3rd
minute of play. Saric pounced on a rebound from
a Mista header, which was blocked by the Cruz
The early lead gave the Reds added confidence
that a win against the
two-time CONCACAF finalists from Mexico City was
Surprisingly, it was the Reds who pushed
forward, and could have increased their lead had
captain De Rosario capitalize three minutes
after Saric’s goal. With Cruz Azul goalkeeper
Yosgart Gutierrez at his mercy, Dero shot wide
of the target.
the Dero missed, the tempo of the game picked up
noticeably, and the play went from end to end.
De Rosario was the Johnny on the spot again,
with his second chance. But he opted to pass,
instead of taking a shot from close range with
Obrien White, was late in picking up his
run, and the scoring chance turned into a
throw-in on the far side for Cruz Azul. In
fairness, it was White’s first start in
quite some time and I think his runs off the
ball and confidence needs some work.
Coach Preki only started White as a
replacement for the injured Danny Barret who
was out with a tender hamstring. But give
Preki credit, he did well in juggling his
player personnel to fill in the blanks. Left
footed Brazilian midfielder Maicon Santos
was also out due to a knee injury.
Peki started Raivis Hscanovics (a natural
left footed) at the left wing back position
instead of Garcia. This turned out to be a
master move. I was not a fan of Hscanovics
prior to this game since he had a tendency
to lunge at opponents and yellow cards were
the name of his game.
There was no bigger save than Conway’s
reflex save on a redirection from Cruz
striker Alejandro Vela in the 40th minute,
to maintain Toronto's 1-0 lead. The Reds
responded with a score by Mista to double
its lead to 2-0 to the half.
goal occurred when Hscanovics moved up the left
flank and slipped a pass to Mista at the edge of
the box. Mista then released a powerful left
footer, which goalkeeper Yosgart Gutierrez
partially blocked, before it trickled over the
goal line between the post and side netting.
Toronto Faithfull’s were in frenzy since it was
a rare occurrence. The Reds was now taking back
to back 2-0 leads into the half at BMO Field.
A week earlier, it was Chivas USA who was under
the gun, and now it was a shell shocked Cruz
Azul team being welcome to BMO Field.
Home advantage is a given advantage in the win
column, but it is refreshing to watch the Reds
on defense. On both occasions, Toronto FC has
played solid defense while maintaining shape to
allow for a transitional offensive surge.
However, I am a little concern with captain
Dwayne De Rosario present role. He is dropping
back deep in the midfield and he is undoubtedly
the most prolific scorer in the team. Defense is
not his strength and in the deep midfield he is
lost and is also losing the edge that is needed
Last Tuesday’s game against Cruz Azul is a good
indication, when Dero was creating scoring
chances out of nothing in the second half. But
he was hard pressed to make precise passes in
subsequent plays which would have set up team
mates to put the game away.
Julian De Guzman has finally found his game and
is playing a significant role in maintaining the
consistency of the Reds, game in, and game out.
However, I am still waiting for De Guzman to
score his first goal as a Red, and it is
beginning to look like it might come sooner
rather than than later.
With playoffs the big target for the Reds fans,
the Reds have been in third place in the Eastern
Division for quite some time and Saturday’s game
against second place New York Red Bulls at BMO
Field at 1pm is pivotal.