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Toronto FC Update 2009   By Aldwyn McGill

TORONTO FC Release Cummins as Reds Coach

The Reds with 39 points, saw its playoff hopes vanished after being humiliated by the last place New York Red Bulls 5-0 on Saturday. It was the worst loss in the club’s short history and with Cummins and his boys returning from New York without a playoff spot, it seems like that was the straw that broke Cummins back. 

 

Hence on Tuesday, three days after the Reds horrendous performance, Toronto FC Manager and Director of Soccer Mo Johnston announced that Chris Cummins coaching contract would not be renewed for the upcoming 2010 MLS season.

 

Cummins was promoted to interim head coach from assistant coach after coach John Carver resigned. He started his first official game as coach at home with a 1-0 victory against the Kansas City Wizards on April 26, 2009.

 

After opening his coaching career with a six game undefeated streak, which included three MLS games, he leaves Toronto FC with a MLS record of 8-9-7, which unfortunately includes a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the New York Reds Bulls last Saturday to open the door for the Reds to fall out of playoff contention.

 

Never before have I seen a team with little desire for the task at hand, as Toronto FC was listless against the New York Red Bulls at Giant Stadium on Saturday. It was the biggest game in Toronto FC MLS history and the team did not show up when a point would have taken them to the playoffs.

 

My assessment of Chris Cummins very early was that he would have to keep his sense of humour to handle the pressures of taking the Reds to the playoffs. At the time the Reds was showing character but I felt that their defense was susceptible and vulnerable.

 

It is my belief that the Maple Leaf management should assess Mo Johnson’s position in the club. It is easy to remove a coach when a team is not doing well or has not gained the required results, but a coach also needs the tools to do the job and besides the Canadian Nationals, what has Mo Johnson brought that he did not give away?

 

There is truth to the saying that “coaches are hired to be fired” but the Reds are out looking for a central back when they made their central back Tyrone Marshall available for the Seattle Sounders as the newest MLS Franchise. The Sounders end the regular season heading to the playoffs with the lowest goals allowed total in the MLS.

 

As a new franchise the Reds finish the 2007 season with a dismal 6-7-17 team record under Mo Johnson coaching but Johnson was promoted to the front office as the GM and Director of Soccer Operations and continued to imply that Toronto FC team was a work in progress.

 

General Manager Johnson hired John Carver and after a second season without reaching the playoffs, Carver returned as coach for the 2009 season and resigned after the first four games of the season. Mo Johnson appointed assistant coach Chris Cummins to fill the void and the Reds was a point short of making the MLS playoffs.

Johnston met with the media on Tuesday morning to announce Chris Cummins departure and his (Mo) plans for the Reds future. Johnston praised Chris Cummins for his contributions and insisted. "We would have loved to keep Chris on as an assistant coach but he wants to be closer to his family and we respect that. I think he is going to be a very good coach one day but I've known for a couple of weeks now that he wanted to be closer to home.”

Cummins added, "I wanted desperately to make the Playoffs because I didn't want to go away from here being a failure”, he said. "We got the first trophy in the club's history but I do see it as a failure because we didn't make the Playoffs.” The search for a new coach started yesterday," said Johnston at BMO Field.

 

 "Within the league, we have to wait until the dust is settled with the Playoffs before we would ask to speak to anyone. It seem to me that Mo Johnson is also a work in progress since it should be quite clear to him, that the European players and/or coaches are not the end all to Toronto FC development and winning percentage improving. He seemed to have seen the light after saying. “Whoever comes in has to have MLS experience. We will look all over."

 

However, when asked about his own position, Johnson revealed that he has agreed to a new contract to stay with the team for another two and a half years. "I felt this year we were very close. I came into this job with pressure and I will always have pressure. I agreed a new contract in August and it is just waiting to go through finance.

After offering Chris Cummins the assistant coaching position, it is beginning to look like Mo Johnson rolled the dice to get to Reds to the 2009 MLS playoff.

 TFC sign Julian De Guzman for Playoff push

     Toronto FC signed Canadian International Julian De Guzman of Scarborough, Ontario as the team’s first ever designated player (DP). De Guzman, 28, joins the Reds after playing for clubs in France, Germany, and most recently club Deportivo De La Coruna in Spain’s La Liga.

 

De Guzman signing was made official at a press conference at BMO Field last Friday, where he appeared with Toronto FC General Manager Mo Johnson and Reds coach Chris Cummins. The deal is a surprise to many, since De Guzman had indicated not too long ago of his intent on staying in Europe.

 

However, that was then, and maybe as the DP, which means that the financial part of his contract is lucrative, he looked at it as a perfect opportunity to come home after spending the past nine years in Europe.

 

All is well that ends well, but if after all the moves to improve the team this season, the Reds fall short of making the playoffs, then all hell could break loose, since the fans would have a big say this time around.

 

The Reds should be in the playoff hunt right down to the end of the season, and with De Guzman reuniting with Dwayne De Rosario it could be the difference maker and big trouble for the opposing teams, providing the Reds can play some D (Defense).

 

The acquisition of De Rosario and De Guzman has to be for offensive exploits and control of the game, but if the Reds 3-2 win against Colorado Rapids last Saturday’s is any indication of the Reds defensive play, then one can also expect the unexpected.

 

The morning of the Colorado game, it was reported that De Guzman would not be playing after efforts to speed up his International Transfer Certificate from Spain had failed. 

 

However, the sold out crowd at BMO Field was buzzing with excitement from the trade and since the Rapids had beaten the Reds 1-0 in their previous game in Denver, the fans were looking forward to a positive result against Colorado Rapids in the rubber match.

 

Toronto is still in contention for a playoff spot, but to accomplish the historic feat the Reds will have to pass several teams on their way up the MLS overall standing and Colorado is one of the team from the Western Division.

 

The game started as most games do, with both teams fighting to establish their game, but it was the Reds who was in a must win situation and a positive result against the Rapids would have justify the De Guzman signing this late in the season.

 

Coach Cummins played the expected starters but I think that some of his starters in the midfield should be benched since to me, they are not playing well. Players such as Barrett and Vitti have not been living up to expectations, and other players should be used to remedy the situation.

 

Dwayne De Rosario (Mr. Play-offs) gave Toronto a 1-0 lead at the 19th minute mark, with a beautiful turn around volley from a right side cross from Marvell Wynne.

 

The Rapids return the favor at the 49th minute when Conor Casey scored from a looping cross while goalkeeper Frei, Wynne and Garcia looked on without contesting.

 

A draw was not good news and Coach Cummins was forced to make changes. Striker O’Brian White was inserted for Ali Gerba and Lesly Fellinga in for Pablo Vitti. The move paid instant dividends as White scored from a De Ro flick to give TFC a 2-1 lead.  

 

The Reds went up 3-1 after central defender Nana Attakora head in a corner kick, but TFC defensive woes continued as Michael Holody was allowed to mop up from in close in the 89 minute to make it a close 3-2 score.

 

As it turned out the Reds held on for the win amidst loud whistles from their fans who wanted to get the referee’s attention and final whistle after having anxious moments in injury time with the Rapids trying for the equaliser.

 

TFC is in the heat of the playoff race and third place in the Eastern Division with the win. With De Guzman in the line up this Saturday It should be very interesting to see how the Reds fear against the LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Centre.

 

De Guzman was Deportivo’s Player of the Year in 2007-2008, and he should add some stability to the Reds midfield. He joins seven other Designated Players in the MLS, which includes David Beckham (L.A. Galaxy), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Chicago), Juan Pablo Angel (New York Red Bulls), Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Columbus), Freddie Ljungberg (Seattle), Luciano Emilio (D.C.), and Luis Angel Landin (Houston).

 Rapid fall for Toronto FC in Colorado  By Pat Rooney / MLSnet.com Staff

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Toronto FC knew it had a golden opportunity to boost its playoff position before the kickoff of Saturday's match at Colorado. Yet, for the third consecutive match, the club's scoring touch was completely absent.
The Reds suffered a 1-0 loss on the road against the host Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, denying Toronto's bid to leap New England and D.C. United in the Eastern Conference standings.

Toronto has now gone without a goal in its past four games and has posted only two wins in its past nine league matches, going 2-4-3 during that span. The club has been held scoreless four times over that stretch after suffering only three shutouts in its first 15 contests.

Toronto (8-9-7) has not scored since getting a tally from O'Brian White in the 65th minute of a 2-0 win against D.C. United on Aug. 15. Since then, Toronto FC has suffered a 2-0 loss at Chivas USA and posted a scoreless draw against Seattle before Saturday's loss in Colorado.

Rapids forward Conor Casey made amends for a missed penalty kick in the first half by scoring the winning goal in the 52nd minute, heading a shot past Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei off a crossing pass from Jacob Peterson. It was Casey's league-leading 12th goal of the season.

The Rapids dominated possession for much of the first half, outshooting Toronto FC 7-2 during the period, but tight marking by Toronto's back line against Casey and fellow forward Omar Cummings held Colorado in check.

Toronto's only decent scoring chance during the first half occurred in the 10th minute when Pablo Vitti found open space near the top of the box, but Rapids 'keeper Matt Pickens was able to smother Vitti's low shot.

Toronto FC escaped falling into an early hole when Casey misfired on a penalty kick in the 25th minute. Toronto was whistled for a hand ball in the box during the possession battle following a Mehdi Ballouchy corner kick, but Casey's attempt deflected off the crossbar, keeping the match scoreless at halftime.

Toronto's fleeting chance at a comeback essentially was dashed in the 76th minute when midfielder Amadou Sanyang was issued a red card after receiving his second yellow card of the match, forcing Toronto to play a man down during the waning minutes. Defender Adrian Serioux also was issued a red card ejection in the 85th minute after a hard takedown of Cummings just outside the penalty box.

Toronto FC played without second-leading goalscorer Amado Guevara, also the club's leader in assists, who was called up to the Honduran national team.

The teams complete their home-and-home set next week in Toronto

De Rosario in confident mood by TorontoFC.ca 09/01/2009

Taking a point in Seattle last weekend was a positive step for Toronto FC on the road, and despite other results seeing the Reds slip down the standings, four-time All-Star Dwayne De Rosario remains confident the third year team can qualify for the playoffs for the first time.

"If we do our job properly we should be fine," said De Rosario. "We have to focus on our game and get the wins we need to make it to the playoffs," said De Rosario. "We can't be looking at how everyone else is doing and constantly checking out the standings. If we keep playing the way we did in Seattle, we will get the points we need. Everyone knows it is a crucial part of our season. The results didn't favour us last weekend but we need to continue playing like that, focus on our job and be more clinical taking our chances."

The top two teams in each conference automatically qualify for the MLS playoffs along with the next best four teams in the overall standings. If the season ended today, De Ro and Co. would be two points outside the top eight, but the former Houston and San Jose star believes the team can take great heart from the way they played in Seattle.

"It was very frustrating that we didn't come away from there with three points and after the first half we could have been up by at least two or three goals," he said. "I was very pleased with our performance all around the field. We were determined to be first to every ball and that is the kind of way we need to approach every game. We were able to put pressure on them up the field a lot more and put them in situations they weren't comfortable with. We all pushed up and played as a unit and played more in the final third of the field."

"Building up to the game it was very lively in training and everyone reacted to the line-up change in the right way and stuck to the task. I think the line-up was a great decision from the coach and it forced them backwards which is something we have struggled with on the road this season."

De Rosario feels the experience of playing in a high tempo match in a cauldron atmosphere at Qwest Field will benefit the players heading down the stretch. "To me it was like a playoff game, and that's exactly what we are going to face if we get to the playoffs," said De Rosario. "We have to start conditioning our minds and bodies to play in that kind of atmosphere. Every tackle was 100 percent from both sides and the atmosphere was great so it was a good match to play in. It was good for the young guys because you can't teach the experience they will have gained from playing in the game with those conditions. As the games intensify they will all feel like that and will be just like a cup game. The young guys responded very well to it and they stood their ground."
 

TFC coach Cummins paint playoff picture

With eight games remaining in Toronto FC regular season and only eight of the 15 teams making the MLS playoffs, TFC coach Chris Cummins has set a target of 12 more points or an equivalent of four wins for the Reds to make the MLS playoffs.

 

However, there is a serious twist to what seems like a reasonable objective by Cummins since five of the Reds remaining eight games are away from BMO Field where the Reds have had more than their share of troubles.

 

The Reds is in third place in the Eastern division with 30 points and while trailing Columbus (39) and Chicago (38) they are tied on points with fourth place New England Revolutions which has two games in hand on Toronto, and one point ahead of DC United who has 29 points.

 

With the top two teams in each conference qualifying as the top seeds, Coach Cumming and the Reds will have to focus on the wild card spots by finishing as one of the best remaining four teams base on total points, regardless of conference.

 

Cummins is confident that his target of 42 points will put the Reds into post season play for the first time in the club's history, and if he is correct, it would be very interesting to watch how he  utilize his players to gain consistency.

 

In lieu of Cummins optimism, the Reds lost to Chivas USA 2-0 last Saturday after defeating DC United by the same margin of victory the week before. Player suspension is adding to Cummins woes but I feel that the Reds can make the playoff if he uses the available players effectively.

 

Much is being made about the Reds missing Jim Brennan play against Chivas USA, but Carl Robinson and Adrian Serioux will be missing against Seattle on Saturday due suspension for an accumulation of 5 yellow cards and the team still has to gain a result.

 

From my vantage point coach Cummins is sending mix signals in his explanation of the team inconsistent play.

 

"We know we have to improve on the road and need to take points away from home if we are going to get in the playoffs," said Cummins. "We know we need four wins between now and the end of the season. If we get three points out of the next two road games then we are back on track."

 

That statement was all good but Cummins confused the issue when he said "It was evident last weekend when Jimmy was out that we missed having a natural left footer”. Who is responsible for the selection and player substitution?

 

Cummins continued, “With Carl and Adrian missing it will give other lads the opportunity to come in and play and try and show what they can do. All of the lads are aware when they are close to a suspension, but you can't tell them to go out and play not to get booked."

 

Cummins answers seemed to be laced with political correctness and this is the time that he has to step out of the box and manage the team. The Reds will have to show some character since their next two games are against teams that could eliminate them from playoff contention.

 

More than anything Coach Cummins have to insist on better positional play from his team especially in the defensive zone which has been the Reds Achilles heel. It is a given that in road games players have to hang tough and forward Pablo Vitti, will have to step up in this regard.

 

From my vantage point the Reds next three games against Seattle and a home and away against Colorado Rapids could be a defining moment in the 2009 season. The Reds will have to defeat Colorado and contain Seattle to have a realistic chance to the playoffs.

 

Although there is a log jam in the Eastern Division, Seattle, Colorado, LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and Real Sault Lake from the Western Division seems to have a lock on the four wild card spots.

 

In the West, Houston Dynamo is all but assured of a playoff spot with 40 points while Chivas USA 33 points with three games in hand on the other teams is in the best position for the next top seeded spot in the Division.

 

LA Galaxy with 35 points from 23 games, Seattle Sounders with 33 points from 22 games, Colorado with 30 points from 21 games and Real Sault Lake with 29 points are all obstacles to Toronto FC’s projected 42-point path to the last 4 wildcard playoff spots.

 

The Reds-Seattle Sounders match on Saturday will be on CBC with a 4:00 p.m. ET kickoff time.

Reds end five-game winless skid behind youthful spark

By Mark Polishuk / TorontoFC.ca  08/15/2009 9:23 PM

--TORONTO -- With a starting XI that included six players at or under age 23 (three of whom were making their MLS starts), it was a young Toronto FC side that delivered one of the team's biggest wins of the season on Saturday at BMO Field. TFC's 2-0 result against division rivals D.C. United was a crucial victory that ended a five-game winless skid for the Reds and gave them much-needed momentum going into a three-game road trip.
"We said all week, we've got 10 games left and today we wanted to win to set us up and get us ready for the final push to the playoffs," said team captain Jim Brennan. "It was very hot out on the pitch and it got a bit scrappy at times, but the guys dug deep, had a couple of chances, finished them and we walked away with three points."

Brennan was one of the few veterans on the pitch for Toronto, as TFC interim head coach Chris Cummins went with the younger lineup due to some regular starters scratched or on the bench due to injury or suspension. Cummins said earlier in the week that he was hoping that the infusion of young blood would spark the Reds, and judging by Saturday's result, the tactic worked.

"I said I was going to mix it up," Cummins said. "I saw enough in the young players to put them in and that's been my background [as a youth coach at Watford], seeing that talent, that enthusiasm, those legs and being patient with them. ... I thought they were outstanding."

Emmanuel Gomez, Amadou Sanyang and O'Brian White had a combined 33 minutes of MLS experience between them headed into the United game, but the rookie trio nevertheless started at center back, center midfield and striker, respectively. Though Sanyang wasn't able to play for TFC until he turned 18 on August 1 and White hadn't recovered from an ACL injury until late July, Cummins said that the main reason the youngsters hadn't seen much action was due to a lack of exposure to an actual game environment.

All three saw playing time against River Plate and Real Madrid in two recent friendlies, and thus Cummins finally saw enough to be comfortable throwing the rookies into the deep end of the battle for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

"In those two friendlies the young kids showed they can play," Cummins said. "They're going to get their opportunities now and as long as they keep going well they'll stay on the team."

Gomez and Sanyang, the two young Gambian stars, played a big part in allowing Toronto to claim its fourth clean sheet of the season. Gomez, veteran Adrian Serioux and 20-year-old Nana Attakora (returning from a hamstring injury) held steady on the back line with Brennan providing both support on the left side and moving forward to spark some plays. When holding midfielder Carl Robinson left the game at halftime, Sanyang became a greater presence behind the ball as well.

It was White, though, who provided the biggest impact in the match. With TFC holding a 1-0 lead after 65 minutes, White gave his team some breathing room with his first career goal. The forward took a short pass from Attakora, made a slight move on his defender to give himself some room and then fired a shot into the right corner.

White's goal was his first on any level since last autumn as a member of the University of Connecticut. The young striker tore his left ACL in a match against Marquette last October and went through a long rehabilitation process before finally taking the field during the River Plate friendly on July 22.

Pegged as a possible first overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, White's injury allowed him to fall to his hometown Reds at the fourth pick of the first round. Playing at home meant that White had more than 30 members of his extended family in attendance at BMO Field on Saturday to see his first goal.

White was mobbed by teammates after his strike, and he said he was just as happy to add to his club's lead as he was to finally get his first professional goal.

"One goal we know they could score that at any time, so to score the second goal, it gave us a little bit of leverage," White said. "They [the other TFC players] saw what I went through with my therapy. I'm thankful for their support, it means a lot.

"I got my first goal, it really felt good. I have to give thanks to the training staff who put in a lot of work with me. I'm very grateful for it."

Toronto's other two first-round picks from the 2009 draft (No. 2 overall Sam Cronin and No. 13 overall Stefan Frei) also acquitted themselves well on Saturday, with Cronin picking up an assist on the opening goal from Dwayne De Rosario, and Frei making a fairly easy four saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

Cronin and Frei have become such fixtures in the TFC lineup this season that it's hard to think of them still as rookies, but they were also part of the under-23 sextet that carried the Reds to victory. Cummins also gave credit to his veterans for providing invaluable instruction at various points throughout the match.

"Of course it's a risk putting in six under-23s, but they've got legs, they've got energy and to play in MLS you need that energy," Cummins said. "You've that experience in the right places as well, Adrian talking to Nana and Gomez, Robbo talking to Amadou and Sammy Cronin playing out of position again, doing a good job."

The win was just TFC's fourth all-time victory in the months of July and August (4-11-8), a traditional summer swoon that has been in part caused by a lack of depth to combat injuries and the inevitable fatigue that comes from playing in warmer weather. With the young players providing both fresh legs and quality minutes, however, it gives the Reds confidence that this will be the season the team breaks through to the postseason.

Cummins couldn't help but aim his praise at the bigger picture when talking about how his young stars played against United on Saturday.

"There's a good group of young players and the young players are the future of the club," Cummins said. "If they go on and perform like that, then this club is really going to kick on."


 

Toronto FC acquires Garcia from San Jose and the rights for Ali Gerba

 Toronto FC Media  06/09/2009 2:30

 Toronto FC announced Tuesday that they have acquired defender Nick Garcia from the San Jose Earthquakes, along with the discovery rights to Canadian forward Ali Gerba. In exchange, San Jose receives Toronto's 3rd round selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. As per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. To make room on the roster for Garcia, Toronto FC goalkeeper Greg Sutton has been released.

"First and foremost we want to thank Greg for everything he has done for this club," said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston. "Greg has always been the consummate professional, he was the first goalkeeper signed by this club, and this was a difficult decision to make. We wish him all the best."

 

Garcia, 30, is currently playing in his 10th season in Major League Soccer. As one of the league's most experienced defenders, he joined San Jose in their expansion season making his debut with the team on April 3, 2008 and helped the team post the fourth-best goals against average in the league. Starting in all 24 games he appeared in last season, he logged 2,151 minutes and added two assists.

 

"We are very happy to bring in a defender with Nick's experience," said Johnston. "We tried to bring him in before and finally we were able to get a deal done. He plays 90 minutes every game, he's quick, and he knows this league inside and out. On Ali Gerba, he's another one that's been on our radar, and we look forward to sitting down with him and getting a contract signed as soon as we can."

 

Prior to joining the Earthquakes, Garcia began his MLS career in 2000 with the Kansas City Wizards. It was a stand-out season for the rookie after he played every minute of the Wizards seven postseason matches to help them on to victory in the MLS Cup final over the Chicago Fire. That year the team was captained by current Toronto FC manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston.

In 2003, Garcia made his 100th career MLS start, becoming the 100th player in MLS history to reach that mark and also the youngest to start in 100 games.

 

Internationally, the defender has six caps with the U.S. National Team making his last appearance for the Americans on January 18, 2004 against Denmark. He was a member of both the 1997 U.S. U-17 World Championship team, and the U-20 World Cup team where he finished with 20 career caps and 46 appearances.

Garcia will arrive in Toronto this week and be available for comment after Toronto FC training on Thursday. Media should arrive no later than 11:15 a.m. Manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston will also be available for comment on these moves during training on Thursday.

Nick Garcia #6
Position: Defender
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175 lbs.
Born: April 9, 1979 in Plano, Texas
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Last Club: Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
College: Indiana
Citizenship: USA

 

 TFC appoint Chris Cummins as Interim coach 

TFC Media department: Toronto FC announced that Chris Cummins has been named interim head coach after the resignation of John Carver. As a result of the promotion of Cummins, Nick Dasovic takes over as firstassistant coach. The remainder of the staff will remain unchanged.

"We are pleased to announce that Chris has accepted the role of interim head coach," said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston. "After speaking with the coaching staff, we felt this was the best decision for the team moving forward. I want to thank all our coaches as it's been a tough few days for all of us, however we've got a great group here and we'll continue towards our goal of making the playoffs."  FC announced that Chris Cummins has been named interim head coach after the resignation of John Carver. As a result of the promotion of Cummins, Nick Dasovic takes over as first assistant coach.

TFC eliminated in Champion League
Toronto FC failed to advance to the CONCACAF Champion League group stage after the Reds played the Puerto Rico Islanders to a 0-0 draw in their away leg at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico last Tuesday.

 

The Reds lost the first leg at BMO Field last Saturday 1-0 and needed a 1-0 win to extend the series to penalty kicks or win by at least a two-goal margin to advance. With the scoreless tie the Reds was sent packing due to the 1-0 aggregate from their home loss.

 

Toronto FC qualified for Champions League play after winning the Canadian Nutrilite Championship in dramatic fashion with a 5-1 demolishing of Montreal Impact in their last game of the tournament.

 

Based on the lopsided win which the Reds handily covered the required three goal margin of victory against Montreal the Reds literally snatched the title away from Vancouver on goal differential.

 

The Reds advances to play Puerto Rico Islanders of the United Soccer League (USL) in the first leg at BMO Field and a taste of CONCACAF Champion League competition for the first time.

 

The mood in the TFC camp was mixed with anxiety after its trying and testy Nutrilite accomplishment and of confidence after overcoming insurmountable odds to win big over the Montreal impact to qualify.

 

Toronto was the sole Canadian representative and expectant of great things after losing out to Montreal Impact last year. However, Montreal reached the Champions League semi final stage and was only seconds away from advancing but gave up two goals in injury time.

 

Puerto Rico Islanders was one of the three Caribbean (CFU) representatives in this year’s tournament, and has vast experience both in Champions League and in playoff action.

 

The Islanders reached the USL playoff finals as the USL First Division season champion in 2008 only to lose to Vancouver and followed up by reaching the Champions league semi final only to lose to Cruz Azul 4-2 on penalty kicks in Mexico City.

 

Heading into the Champion League series Toronto FC was in fourth place in the MLS Eastern Conference, while the Islanders was also in fourth place in United Soccer Leagues' First Division three points behind leaders Charleston Battery.

 

It is no secret that in a home and away series one has to protect ones home field advantage especially when it comes to conceding goals due to the goal-aggregate system and Toronto did not protect their home turf.

 

Puerto Rico Islanders held the advantage in this regard since the Reds has lost three games at home, while the Islanders have only one loss at home to this point of the season. To add to their woes Toronto FC lost the opening game 1-0 at BMO Field.

 

With their miraculous 5-1 comeback victory against Montreal it was felt that a 1-0 deficit was erasable when the Reds got to Puerto Rico, but as it turn out the Reds could not do on the road what they could not do at home, which was score.

 

The Islanders defense was up to the task and what they did not diffuse, their hot goalkeeper William Gaudette mopped up. As a result the Islander shutdown a potent TFC offense for 180+ minutes to advance.

With the aggregate win, Puerto Rico advanced and joined Columbus Crew of the MLS, Saprissa of Costa Rica and the winner of the qualifying deadlock between Mexico’s Cruz Azul and Herediano in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Toronto in turn will return home to face Real Madrid on Friday at BMO Field for its international friendly. Real Madrid will have their super star duo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazilian midfield star Kaka in their line-up.

Soccer Update: The second half of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers will resume on August 12 with Trinidad and Tobago having an all important clash with El Salvador in Port of Spain.

With five games remaining the Soca Warriors will have to try to correct their collapse against El Salvador in their first game after the Warriors blew a 2-goal lead and a penalty only to watch El Salvador score two goals in the last 11 minutes to tie the game 2-2.

In the other games Mexico will face a stronger USA team from their Gold Cup encounter in Mexico City, while Honduras will have to take care of a strong Costa Rica team in order to stay in close contention. 

 

Dwayne De Rosario and the Reds fell 1-0 to Puerto Rico

By Mark Polishuk / TorontoFC.ca

TORONTO -- Toronto FC came up short in their first taste of CONCACAF Champions League action, dropping the first leg of qualifying tie against the Puerto Rico Islanders, 1-0, on Wednesday night at BMO Field.
Kendall Jagdeosingh's second-half goal was all the offense that Puerto Rico needed in spite of being outshot by a 17-6 margin by a Toronto side that just couldn't turn their attacking advantage into a conversion.

The result means that in order to advance to the group stage of the Champions League, TFC will have to win in Puerto Rico on Tuesday by at least a two-goal margin. A 1-0 win for the Reds will send the tie to extra time and possibly a penalty kick shootout. Any other result will eliminate Toronto from the competition.

With Amado Guevara and Nana Attakora out with injuries, TFC made some changes to their starting XI. Emmanuel Gomez made his first start in a competitive game for the Reds, taking Attakora's spot at center back. Sam Cronin was back from international duty, which pushed Pablo Vitti up into Guevara's usual attacking midfield role. Adrian Serioux did not start the game due to nagging injuries, but did appear on the substitution list.

After playing a number of reserves last Saturday in Vancouver in order to keep the starters fresh for this game, the Islanders fielded their usual starting lineup against the Reds. Before the 4-2 defeat in Vancouver, Puerto Rico had reeled off clean sheets in their previous five games, though the Islanders captured just one win during that shutout streak.

Neither side could claim an advantage in the early going, though the Islanders did penetrate deep within the TFC zone for a shot in the second minute. Puerto Rico's pace and energy in the opening minutes belied the fact that Wednesday's game was their ninth consecutive road contest.

The Reds couldn't muster much of anything on attack before finally getting a solid scoring chance in the 26th minute. Forward Chad Barrett faced double coverage as he carried the ball on the left side, but Barrett split the two defenders with a big cross that found Dwayne De Rosario to the right of the Puerto Rico net. De Rosario met the cross with a header that went just wide of the right goal post.

De Rosario's attempt seemed to stimulate the Toronto attack. The Reds' passing became a bit crisper and the team created more pressure in the Puerto Rico end of the field. The best chance of the brief period of TFC dominance was a pass from De Rosario that slashed down the right side and almost found Ali Gerba with space in front of goal.

That chance was the last decent attempt of the half for Toronto, as they continued to have trouble breaking down the stout Islanders back line. TFC showed some good movement and passing prowess with the ball, but whenever the Reds moved the ball past two or three Puerto Rico defenders, another one was always there to break up the pass or clear the ball away.

TFC looked stronger at the start of the second half. Marvell Wynne took a bounce pass at midfield, put the ball through the legs of a defender and found space for a hard shot that went over the net. Eight minutes later, Cronin found Gerba with a bounce pass on the left side of the goal that 'keeper William Gaudette got just enough of to knock out of play.

Cronin had a close chance of his own in the 61st minute. The rookie midfielder had the last touch on a series of passes deep in the Puerto Rico end, and Cronin sent a tantalizingly curvy shot towards the left side of the net. The ball appeared to glance off the leg of Islanders defender Nigel Henry, and this minor re-direction was all that was needed to send it wide.

While Toronto applied the pressure, it was Puerto Rico who opened the scoring in the 67th minute. A long shot into the penalty area drew the attention of TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who went to the right side of the box to try and catch the ball. But Frei simply couldn't get a handle on it, and Jagdeosingh took the pass, turned and fired past the prone 'keeper.

The massive away goal was the third of the season (in all competitions) for Jagdeosingh. The Trinidadian has been a fixture in the Islanders' lineup, appearing in 21 of Puerto Rico's 22 league games thus far this season.

Now facing a deficit, the Reds re-applied the pressure to try and salvage at least a draw from the match. Gerba nearly got free for the equalizer in the 76th and did indeed find the back of the net, but the big striker was just barely offside on the play.

O'Brian White and Danny Dichio entered the game for Barrett and Carl Robinson, as TFC wanted as much striking capability on the field as possible to push for the tying goal. The Reds had four quality chances in the last 10 minutes of regulation play -- De Rosario missed a direct free kick, Wynne fired a hard shot wide, Jim Brennan had a close-range shot stopped, and Dichio had a falling header blocked by Gaudette just before it snuck into the left side of the net.

TFC resumes their league schedule on Saturday at Gillette Stadium against the New England Revolution, and then head to Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium for the final leg of their two-match series with Puerto Rico on Tuesday

 

De Rosario hat trick helps TFC win Canadian Championship  

Toronto FC passed their first test with flying colours after defeating Montreal Impact 6-1 to win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship and a berth into next year’s CONCACAF Champions League.

 

It was a game which the Reds had to win by at least a four margin to secure the Championship. The stage was set for the Vancouver Whitecaps (in attendance) to Wisk off with the championship trophy since Toronto had only one 4-goal winning margin game in their history.

 

The Reds tough luck with history did not change when the game started after the Reds fell behind in the 24th minute. Toronto defender Nick Garcia fouled striker Peter Byers in the area to give up a penalty kick and add another goal to the Reds tally to erase.

 

The fact that Toronto FC blew a chance to clinch the Championship in Vancouver with a win or a tie weigh heavily on most TFC supporters mind with their team trailing. However, the Reds fans transformed Saputo Stadium into a home field advantage due to a massive turn out of Reds fans.

 

When it mattered most Dwayne De Rosario (TFC offseason acquisition) stepped up and jump start the Reds offense with three goals in a twenty minutes span to take the sting out of the Montreal lead.

 

De Ro gave  the Reds a 2-1 halftime lead and his third goal after the half started the Reds rally.  Guevera scored two goals which included the fourth and the insurance sixth goal, while Chad Barrett came in off the bench, scored the important fifth goal which put the Reds on the road to the championship.

 

De Rosario’s three goals came at a time when the other Reds offensive players seemed to have left their heads and scoring boots in the change room after missing several easy scoring chances.

 

Once again De Rosario has proven why he has been and still is a winner. Scoring big goals in big games and a magnet for championships is his forte. De Ro was voted Man of the match and the Most Valuable Player of the Canadian Championship tournament.

 

Personal accomplishment for De Rosario comes with the territory, but for Toronto FC the Nutrilite Canadian Championship is the first piece of hardware in the Reds three year history of

Toronto FC franchise.

 

However from my vantage point, The Reds is not where they should want to be at this point as I wait to see the development in the Reds team defensively. This was my reason for asking coach Cummins several games back, if he felt his team could play a 0-0 game down to the final minute.

 

For the most part  the defense has to secure a championship and the Reds gave up the first goal in a game where a shutout was needed. However, the fact that the Reds overcame a larger deficit shows that their is a lot of character and leadership on the team and that was the difference in this situation.

 

Toronto will play Puerto Rico Islanders of the United Soccer Leagues First Division in a two game home and away series in the Preliminary Round of the Champions League. The Reds will host the first game on Tuesday, July 28, while the Islanders will host TFC in Bayamon, Puerto Rico on Tuesday, August 4 in the second leg play.

 

Coach Cummins is hopeful that with the signing of Ali Gerba and the championship win his team can ride the momentum for the remainder of the season. However, taking first things first, the Reds will have to take care of the New York Red Bulls this Wednesday at press time to jump back into the heat of the MLS playoff race to accomplish their second objective of the season.

 

Soccer Update: Canada under Steve Hart will play Jamaica Reggae Boyz on Saturday July 3 at the Home Depot Centre to open the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Canada team is schedule to fly to Los Angeles on Thursday while the Reggae Boyz under Interim head coach Theodore Whitmore will be in Los Angeles on Thursday also. Grenada will be in tough against USA in Seattle Washington on July 4 for their Group B contest, while Guadeloupe plays Panama in Oakland on July 5.

 

TFC stop home slide with 2-1 win over Red Bulls
Toronto FC did just what the doctor ordered after scoring its quickest goal of the season to set up a 2-1 victory over the desperate New York Reds Bulls.

 

The win at home stopped the bleeding for TFC, since the Reds were on a three-game losing skid. The loss extended New York losing streak to five games and their winless streak to six.

TFC break came when midfielder Sam Cronin scored his first professional goal in the third minute after New York goalkeeper Cepero rejected Guevara’s penalty kick. The ball rebounded to Cronin who made no mistake to send the Reds supporters in kiosk after the best of start of the season.

 

However, the Reds would have been better served to be calculated in their approach, after the early score, but decided to engage in a toe to toe battle against a team that had more than their share of misfortunes on the road.

 

It was an evening of milestones, some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly. Cronin goal marked the quickest goal scored by TFC this season and the TFC supporters were having their share of fun singing their favorite “Oh Dichio” chorus amongst their other chants.

 

Danny Dichio responded with his third goal of the season when he mopped up a Vitti rebound at the 43rd minute to give the Reds a two-goal lead just before the intermission. The Dichio’s goal marked the first time for the season that the Reds had a two-goal output before halftime.

 

However, the offensive outburst of the first half may have caused some overconfidence in the Reds team to start the second half although coach Cummins admitted he told his team that the Red Bulls would come at them after the intermission.

 

After the break, New York cut TFC lead in half when Albert Celades' scored his first MLS goal in the 54 minute. The goal ended New York Red Bulls' road scoring drought for the season and restored a flicker of hope in a team that many though should have been put out of their misery in the first half.

 

The rest of the second half was back and forth and if anyone had missed the first half, one would have thought that New York was in the lead due to its overall play although Toronto had the better of the scoring chances.

Coach Cummins and his TFC team would have to defuse their transitional type of play at home especially after taking the lead. Whether it is a response to the best fans in the MLS or not, TFC players should have a better grip on what play is actually on offensively and where the dangers are defensively if the play breaks down.

 

Pablo Vitti is very sporadic in his play and although he is a very creative player, he has problems in finishing his plays. After having several glorious scoring opportunities he has no scored a goal.

Chad Barrett on the other hand has shown the potential to be a goal scorer but his off the ball read on developing plays is questionable. He seems to reacts to the developing plays instead of being set to execute and was benched as a starter by coach Cummins for the first time this season.

 

Guevera or coach Cummins needs to allow the other skilled players on the TFC team to be utilize on the set plays more readily, instead of having Guevera take all the free kicks, which reduces the percentage of the Reds team scoring when he is visibly tired.

 

The Reds struggled with a New York team that entered the MLS record book for road woes after New York lost their 20th consecutive regular-season at BMO Field last Saturday. It was an ugly win for Toronto FC, but in adverse times, an ugly win is acceptable.

 

In the face of intense pressure from New York late in the game, the TFC defense was up for the challenge. Nick Garcia made his defensive debut with TFC, after being acquired from San Jose Earthquakes along with the rights of Canadian International Ali Gerba earlier in the week.

 

Garcia played alongside Adrian Serioux at center back in a 3-4-3 formation since fullbacks Marvell Wynne and Jim Brennan were absent due to international duty and injury, respectively. Coach Cummins mixed and matched his defensive schemes as Nana Attakora and Kevin Harmse were inserted into the wing back positions.

 

TFC plays New York at BMO Field on June 24, but for now, the Reds would have to get its scoring machine in order for Thursday’s game in Montreal since Toronto can only win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship by defeating the Montreal Impact by a four-goal margin.


Toronto FC acquires Garcia from San Jose and the rights for Ali Gerba

 PM Toronto FC Media  06/09/2009 2:30

 Toronto FC announced Tuesday that they have acquired defender Nick Garcia from the San Jose Earthquakes, along with the discovery rights to Canadian forward Ali Gerba. In exchange, San Jose receives Toronto's 3rd round selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. As per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. To make room on the roster for Garcia, Toronto FC goalkeeper Greg Sutton has been released.

"First and foremost we want to thank Greg for everything he has done for this club," said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston. "Greg has always been the consummate professional, he was the first goalkeeper signed by this club, and this was a difficult decision to make. We wish him all the best."

 

Garcia, 30, is currently playing in his 10th season in Major League Soccer. As one of the league's most experienced defenders, he joined San Jose in their expansion season making his debut with the team on April 3, 2008 and helped the team post the fourth-best goals against average in the league. Starting in all 24 games he appeared in last season, he logged 2,151 minutes and added two assists.

 

"We are very happy to bring in a defender with Nick's experience," said Johnston. "We tried to bring him in before and finally we were able to get a deal done. He plays 90 minutes every game, he's quick, and he knows this league inside and out. On Ali Gerba, he's another one that's been on our radar, and we look forward to sitting down with him and getting a contract signed as soon as we can."

 

Prior to joining the Earthquakes, Garcia began his MLS career in 2000 with the Kansas City Wizards. It was a stand-out season for the rookie after he played every minute of the Wizards seven postseason matches to help them on to victory in the MLS Cup final over the Chicago Fire. That year the team was captained by current Toronto FC manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston.

In 2003, Garcia made his 100th career MLS start, becoming the 100th player in MLS history to reach that mark and also the youngest to start in 100 games.

 

Internationally, the defender has six caps with the U.S. National Team making his last appearance for the Americans on January 18, 2004 against Denmark. He was a member of both the 1997 U.S. U-17 World Championship team, and the U-20 World Cup team where he finished with 20 career caps and 46 appearances.

Garcia will arrive in Toronto this week and be available for comment after Toronto FC training on Thursday. Media should arrive no later than 11:15 a.m. Manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston will also be available for comment on these moves during training on Thursday.

Nick Garcia #6
Position: Defender
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175 lbs.
Born: April 9, 1979 in Plano, Texas
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Last Club: Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
College: Indiana
Citizenship: USA

 

 Toronto FC defeat New England Revolution 3-1

   

TORONTO – Toronto FC got back to their winning ways after defeating the New England Revolution 3-1 last Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. The Reds fell behind in the 13th minute of play on a goal scored by lanky Grenadian International Shalrie Joseph.

 

The goal stunned the Reds supporters, but TFC midfielder Amado Guevara returned the favor one minute later with a half volley shot from about 25 yards from center into  the roof  of the net which gave New England goalkeeper no chance.

 

The script is being written that Toronto FC is now an offensive team, and with their tremendous crowd support at BMO Field, no lead at BMO is safe especially an early lead. Guevara goal was such a beauty that the BMO Field crowd was buzzing for a while after the goal.

 

Long scoring drought looks like it’s a thing of the past for the new version of the De Rosario lead Reds. Back to back shutout is a big challenge to the Reds, and as soon as TFC scored and got the monkey off their backs the pressure was squarely on the Revolution to ward off the Reds offensive thrust.

 

The Revolution was resistive and although they were having their share of troubles in defense, they tried to muster some offense of their own. Nevertheless, TFC had the better of the run of play heading in to the second half, but the Reds defense had their hands full with Joseph the Revolution six foot-plus striker.  

 

Joseph was an MLS All star starter last year and with the form he is exhibiting, he probably would be on the MLS All Star against Everton FC this season due to his exception skill and deft touches. He was moved up from the midfield to the striker position for the game, and he was very effective.

 

As TFC coach Cumming explained that he told his defenders to allow him (Joseph) the ball because it was fruitless in trying to win the ball from him after he had the ball. That was a very good advice from coach Cummins since Joseph in my estimation is that good and uses his long reaches to his advantage.

 

Joseph has three goals in nine games this season, making 2009 already the third-highest scoring year of his seven-year MLS career. Joseph scored a career-high six goals in 2005, but we all appreciate in spite of that, soccer is a team sport and Cummins defensive strategy worked.

 

In the second half Joseph continued to be dangerous up front, but similar to the approach of some basketball teams, the Reds was prepared not to let Joseph beat them in the second half.

The Reds was dominant in all the statistical categories at the intermission and picked up where they left off when the second half began. After a trial and error period, the Reds took the lead on a goal scored by Dwayne De Rosario at the 68 minute.

 

De Ro broke free from a pass from Danny Dichio a little off-center, and managed to slot the ball pass the advancing New England goalkeeper to give TFC a 2-1 lead. Two minutes later Guevara added the insurance marker when he took an in swinging free kick from the left flank.

 

Guevara fee kick was strategically place between the defense and the goalkeeper and with the Revolution defense backing on the cross ball, their goalkeeper misjudged the trajectory of the ball and fail to get a touch as the ball bounced in front of him and scooted into the New England net.

 

 That was the insurance goal as the Reds one-two punch of Guevara and De Rosario scored two minutes apart n the second half to send the New England Revolution away with a 3-1 defeat from their BMO Field visit. The goal was the fourth of the year for Guevara, and also the fourth of his career in 17 regular season matches against New England.

 

De Rosario's goal momentarily tied him with Guevara for the team lead, but the Honduran went back ahead in his personal competition just two minutes later with the set-piece. Dichio assisted on the first two Reds goals and was the distraction on the in swinging free kick in the box by Guevara, which fooled goalkeeper Reis, who may have anticipated some sort of contact by Dichio.

 

TFC heads to Houston on Saturday to play the Dynamo which will be De Rosario's first game against his old team after being traded in December to Toronto. The Revolution head back home at to Gillette Stadium to play a big game against D.C. United on Saturday

 ...

TFC Undefeated Streak ends

   

Toronto FC, six-game undefeated streak came to an abrupt halt last Saturday after  the Chicago Fire score two goals and rode lady luck to leave town with a 2-0 victory.

 

After having the luxury of playing practically the month of May at home, the Reds has one more game against New England at BMO Field on Saturday, and then the honeymoon is over.

 

The Reds has only two more back to back games at home and would be dropping in occassionally at BMO Field until their back to back games in mid-August and mid-October to end the season.

 

As a result the Reds will have to make good use of BMO Field and win the majority of their games there.

 

Thus far the deuces are running wild at BMO Field since the Reds are 2-2-2 at home. The bad thing about the Reds losses at home is that they came via shutouts. First to Seattle Sounders and last Saturday to the Chicago Fire.

 

However, unlike the first shutout loss to Seattle, the Reds missed a lot of scoring opportunities against Chicago Fire and coach sees that in a positive light. This makes the game against New England Revolution on Saturday a huge game since it would tilt the scale to one side or another.

 

The Reds record on the road is not too shabby either, since TFC road record is (1-1-2) with only one loss in four games. Either way it is quite obvious the Reds is having a good season thus far and if their away performance is maintained and their home record improves, the Reds will be in good shape at the end of the season.

 

That is excellent going so far, when you consider that two of road games were decided on heart breaking calls in the form of two penalties against the Reds,  with both calls unfortunately going against defender Marvell Wynne.

 

Hopefully the other Red’s players do not start letting their spirits down on the road, and toughen up.  The Reds first road lost was to FC Dallas 3-2, and then in Washington against DC United in a 3-3 tie.

 

The Reds are currently in fourth place in the Eastern standings, but they are only a win away from the leading Chicago Fire team. With DC united and Kansas City ahead of Toronto FC, it means that the last head to head meetings of those division rivals were important for the Reds to win. \

 

My question to new coach Cummins at the press conference was if he thought that his team is capable of finishing a game 0-0.  I do not think he understood the question or maybe he heard me wrong, but he replied that his team had shutout opponents already.

 

Although coach Cummins is correct with that statistic, what I was driving at is the fact that there are games when you could see a team is out of sync offensively and a caution flag should be waved to the defense.

 

The Reds were guilty of simple miscues against Chicago, from the offense down to steady-handed goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Most players could tell when it seems like it is going to be a long day on the field, at least those with depth, and against Chicago it was one of those days.

 

The situation by no means coach Cummins fault, since his team had scoring opportunities right down to the end of the game. But, his defensive players got caught napping on the two goals.

 

On the first goal the Chicago striker broke loose and beat goalkeeper Frei to the ball, and on the second goal goalkeeper Frei made a beautiful save, and his defender were no where around to clean up the rebound.

 

This is what I meant about playing a 0-0 game, and when players are missing sitters (easy goals) a coach suppose to have a fear that something has gone completely wrong.

 

In a case like that the defenders has to lock up the back, knowing it could be a long day at the office from an offensive stand point. This is maturity in defenders and the Reds have quite a few experience defenders.

 

Offensive soccer is beautiful and very much the preferred game, but if the Reds have to fit the script that the best defense is a good offense, then coach Cummins and his team has to survive bad offensive outings and hang in tight for a 0-0 outcome.

 

 

 TFC appoint Chris Cummins as Interim coach 

TFC Media department: Toronto FC announced that Chris Cummins has been named interim head coach after the resignation of John Carver. As a result of the promotion of Cummins, Nick Dasovic takes over as firstassistant coach. The remainder of the staff will remain unchanged.

"We are pleased to announce that Chris has accepted the role of interim head coach," said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston. "After speaking with the coaching staff, we felt this was the best decision for the team moving forward. I want to thank all our coaches as it's been a tough few days for all of us, however we've got a great group here and we'll continue towards our goal of making the playoffs."  FC announced that Chris Cummins has been named interim head coach after the resignation of John Carver. As a result of the promotion of Cummins, Nick Dasovic takes over as first assistant coach.

 

TFC register their second shutout after defeating Kansas City Wizards 1-0:-The Reds jump atop the MLS Eastern standings with 11 points after defeating Kansas City Wizards 1-0 at BMO Field. The Reds impressive defensive efforts have given them back to back shut out wins and although the two wins were by one goal margin, it is just a matter of time before the offense have a break out game since they are getting their share of chances.  Stars Soccer Review Magazine!

 TFC coach Carver resign after Reds first home win :- On a cold and windy night at BMO Field, the Reds defeat the undefeated Chivas USA 1-0 to register their first home win.  However, amidst the good news, John Carver resigned as coach of the Reds with the Kansas City Wizards on the Reds plate at BMO Field four days later. .... Stars Soccer Review Magazine!

 

 

 

De Rosario scores first goal as TFC in 1-1 tie with Dallas

     

In a week where the weather seemed to be getting as predictable as the pressure on coaches for results, Dwayne De Rosario managed to step up to the plate at BMO Field to score his first goal as a Toronto FC while keeping his coach Carver safe and sound.

 

However, although Carver is out of the woods, good or better oppositions can also put a coach in an awkward predicament. FC Dallas turned what seems to be De Rosario’s game winning goal for TFC, into just a lead, after they equalized in the last two minutes of regulation time to run away from BMO Field with a 1-1 tie.

 

The game was played at a fast pace and to be honest, both teams missed easy scoring chances and a chance to win at the end after hitting the cross bar on both end. However, De Rosario opened the scoring at the 17th minute with a well time header, after out jumping the Dallas defense from a long throw by Adrian Serioux.

 

The early lead sent the BMO Field crowd into frenzy since they anticipated more to come. The extra excitement on the goal could have been because the Reds were shutout in their home opener a week earlier or the fact that De Rosario scored his first goal as a TFC.

 

Coach Carver is also doing a better job compared to a year ago where he was of the opinions that “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it”. This year he has taken a different approach and has altered his starting line up when he sees fit or when the team is struggling.

 

For the Dallas game, he made a good move to bring in Sam Cronin for Pablo Vitti and Fuad Ibrahim for Rohan Ricketts in the starting line up. The move seem to ignite the team, especially after a disappointing home opener 2-0 loss one week earlier.

 

TFC is now sitting in the middle of the pack, 3 points away from the conference leading Chicago Fire which has 8 points and De Ro revving up his engine.

 

 

Seattle Spoils De Rosario's home coming

 

The game that was billed as the Dwayne De Rosario home coming, turned out to be the grand appearance of the undefeated expansion Seattle Sounder FC as the party crashers.

 

The weather seemed to comply with the Sounders wishes to put a damper on the evening proceedings by delivering high winds and below normal temperatures.

 

The stage was set for a big day as the children of the Reds players were part of the opening ceremonies which no doubt was suppose to preclude a game ending victory celebration and party.

 

However as the game started the Sounders seem to adapt to the elements much better than the Reds and I'm lead to believe that coach Carver like everyone else at BMO Field was a bit surprised that the Sounders was as good or better than their 2-0 expansion record suggested.

 

The Sounders was on top of the Reds from the get go and very early  Seattle's Freddie Ljungberg was the recipient of a nifty give and go to open the scoring. Steve Zakuaniex presented the Sounders with the insurance marker to give Seattle a 2-0 lead before the half.

 

The Sounders defended their lead well and Ex-TFC defender Tyrone Marshall had one of his better games and deserves a lot of credit for preserving  his new team (Sounders) shutout.

 

Scarborough's Dwayne De Rosario was tightly marked while Serioux had more than his share of pressure in defense.

However, I agree with TFC coach Carver sentiment at the press conference when he was not prepared to defend his player’s performance after taking full responsibility his team poor showing. In his frustration Carver was unable to come up with a single TFC player to compliment for their play in the game.

 

However, coach Carver and his team will have to get over the Sounders loss very quickly in order to step up for the Dallas FC game on Saturday.

 

The Seattle defeat was the first in three games (1-1-1) for the Reds and although a home loss before the best fans in the MLS is disappointing, the season is still young and with a win at BMO Field on Saturday, I’m sure that their first season loss will be forgiven.

 

The Reds game on Saturday could be an emotional encounter for TFC Adrian Serioux who was traded from Dallas to TFC in the off-season. Hence, it will be incumbent on Serioux to keep his cool in defense and respond in part with a defensive shut out for TFC.

 

Seattle Sounders FC (3-0-0) vs. Toronto FC (1-1-1)
April 04, 2009 -- BMO Field


Scoring Summary:
SEA -- Freddie Ljungberg 1 (Nate Jaqua 1) 15
SEA -- Steve Zakuani 1 (unassisted) 45


Seattle Sounders FC -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Zach Scott, Sebastien Le Toux, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani (Nathan Sturgis 79), Nate Jaqua, Freddie Ljungberg (Sanna Nyassi 78),

Substitutes Not Used: Ben Dragavon, Patrick Ianni, Stephen King, Roger Levesque, Tyson Wahl

Toronto FC -- Greg Sutton, Marvell Wynne, Kevin Harmse, Adrian Serioux, Jim Brennan, Dwayne De Rosario, Amado Guevara, Carl Robinson, Rohan Ricketts (Sam Cronin 46), Chad Barrett (Danny Dichio 55), Pablo Vitti (Johann Smith 85),

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Emmanuel Gomez, Fuad Ibrahim, Marco Velez

Toronto FC Seattle Sounders FC
total shots: 9 (Amado Guevara 3) 8 (Freddie Ljungberg 3)
shots on goal: 3 (3 tied with 1) 3 (Freddie Ljungberg 2)
fouls: 10 (Adrian Serioux 2) 6 (Nate Jaqua 3)
offsides: 3 (3 tied with 1) 2 (Sebastien Le Toux 1,
Sanna Nyassi 1)
corner kicks: 4 (Amado Guevara 4) 1 (Sebastien Le Toux 1)
saves: 1 (Greg Sutton 1) 3 (Kasey Keller 3)

 

Reds top KC 3-2 for first season opener win

Toronto FC are off and running after opening their 2009 soccer season with a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Wizards last Saturday before a sold out crowd at the Community  American Ballpark.

 

The acquisition of Dwayne De Rosario and central back Adrian Serioux in the offseason paid instant dividends as Serioux was instrumental in containing the relentless and potentially dangerous Wizards offense from his pivotal defensive position while De Rosario was a part of two of the Reds three goals.

 

Coach Carver who is in a temperature regulated seat throughout the 2009 season should be given full credit for his impact on the Reds win after starting Adrian Serioux on a game time decision due to a nagging injury and rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei over the incumbent Greg Sutton.

 

To add to the Reds positive start captain Jim Brennan scored at the 33rd minute after being sent in the clear by Dwayne De Rosario and the irony here is that Brennan has been with Toronto from its inception and his goal marked the first time the Reds had led in any of their three season openers. 

 

On the De Ro watch home boy De Rosario was front and center of the Reds offensive action and although he missed a penalty at the 80th minute to provide the Reds with the insurance marker coach Carver and TFC brass are confident that the Reds fist playoff season is now one game closer with De Rosario in the line up.

 

The acquisition of De Rosario could also be a blessing in disguise for teammate Guevara’s game since De Ro takes a direct approach to the opponent’s goal and Guevara’s offensive ambitions and production could benefit from De Rosario’s exploits.

 

Guevara made no secret of De Rosario asset to the team after he scored one of his two goals in the Reds victory from a rebound of a De Rosario shot. “It's not just De Rosario's talent that makes him a valuable addition to the squad,  "He's very important, very contagious, He wins the balls, does what he has to do, and it reflects in the team."

 

While the win against Kansas City Wizards is the first season opener victory in the three seasons for the Reds, there is still a lot of games left and I am hopeful that the win would be taken in stride since a lot can happen before post season play.

 

Injuries and players commitment to international duty is usually the test of a team’s character but with all things considered the Reds have reason to be optimistic and captain Brennan could not have portrait the confidence of the team any better when he stated

 

"It's night and day from the first game we ever played until now. The squad is strong. We have good depth now, and we have guys here who want to win," he said. "To win the first game is something that we wanted to do ... to get the three points was great for us."

 

However, depth is the main ingredient to the success of a team and although the Reds are deep this year only time would tell how effective the bench would be to give the Reds the consistency that is needed to get closer to a championship.

 

De Rosario and Serioux has added a winning attitude to the Reds that was not in the team last season and their championship experience with the Houston Dynamo can only help Toronto FC achieve good things barring injuries.

 

However with the Reds potent and explosive offensive there is less pressure on the defense and unlike previous seasons, a defensive shutout would almost guarantee TFC of a win. The Reds offensive players will be the key to the success of the team.

 

The impressive ball possession and home crowd advantage of the Wizards was not enough to neutralize the Reds offense as De Rosario and company kept the KC defense at bay. This Reds offense production was effective and this characteristic was missing over the past two seasons.

 

The victory was only TFC’s fifth away from BMO Field and away wins will be needed to help the Reds objective of making the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history. The Reds will be in Columbus on Saturday in an effort to start a winning streak that would bring them into the sold out BMO Field for their home opener on April 4.

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