|Captain Dwayne De Rosario|
Toronto — The ‘sea of red’ was out in full force on Thursday night as Dwayne De Rosario demonstrated why he is the new captain of Toronto FC.
De Rosario scored a pair of goals and was named Man of the Match to lift Toronto (1-2-0) to their first victory of the season over the expansion Philadelphia Union (1-2-0) in their home opener at BMO Field in front of 21,978 die-hard fans.
“It’s a great result at home for the fans,” said De Rosario. “And hopefully we can use this win for momentum towards our next game against Colorado.”
“To see us move the ball, to see guys want the ball, it was a great feeling. To come in here at the end of the game with 3 points is tremendous for not only us but for the fans and supporters.”
Unimpressive First Half
It took some time for TFC to find their rhythm as the Union controlled the play for the better part of the first half. Philadelphia was also very adept at their passing game – especially the young Colombian midfielder Roger Torres who played a great game.
Perhaps the turning point in the game came in the 34th minute when Union captain Danny Califf was given a straight red card for what appeared to be an elbow directed at the head of TFC midfielder Julian de Guzman. Califf and his teammates pleaded with the referee Baldomero Toledo but to no avail as the Union suddenly found themselves down to ten men.
The spot kick was awarded to TFC and on the ensuing play, De Rosario drove the ball towards the goal and it was simply too much to handle for Union goalkeeper, Chris Seitz, as the ball slipped through his hands and into the back of the net.
Toronto started to come on in the late stages of the first half but a mental lapse by their defenders and a terrific play by Torres allowed the Union to tie the game just before the end of the half in extra time.
Torres corralled the ball and delivered a brilliant cross to defender Jordan Harvey who made a remarkable run behind the TFC defenders to stay just onside as he fired a quick shot past a helpless Stefan Frei to make it 1-1.
The first half was full of physical play as both teams were guilty of late challenges and penalized for numerous fouls.
|TFC celebrate first goal|
Coach Preki wasn’t impressed with his team’s play in the first half and was especially upset with the tying goal since his team had all their defenders back on the play.
“I thought we had a very disappointing first half,” said Preki. “I thought we came out nervous like we were scared to play. In all honesty, I couldn’t wait for half-time because that’s not how we want to play so we made some changes at halftime.”
“It was very disappointing to give up such a ‘soft goal’ in the last seconds of the first half because we made it difficult on ourselves. I think we fell asleep on the goal…we were just ball watching. We should be alert in the last seconds of the first half, let’s kill the game, let’s go the locker room and start over.”
Halftime Changes Pay Off
Preki made two changes to start the second half – inserting two forwards, O’Brian White and Chad Barrett while removing defender Maxim Usanov and midfielder Martin Saric.
The changes seemed to pay off as TFC carried the play in the second half and controlled the ball a lot better than the first 45 minutes. Another factor in the change of play was the fact that Philadelphia was playing with only 10 men – the Union were no longer attacking and instead were hanging back to play a conservative game, as if they were content to just eke out a tie.
Up until the 80th minute it seemed that would be the case, but a race for a loose ball between White and Seitz resulted in the Union goalkeeper tripping up White inside the box. The referee Toledo immediately signalled a penalty.
De Rosario stepped up and calmly fired the ball past a diving Seitz into the top of the net to give TFC the 2-1 lead.
The Reds almost made it 3-1 in injury time when a through ball was put up to a charging Barrett who made a pass to an open De Rosario who fired towards the gaping cage only to have it ring off the post, narrowly missing the hat trick.
|Coach Preki at post-game
“As a group we were a better in the second half and that’s what changed the game for us,” said Preki.
“To give credit to Philadelphia, they’re not a bad team. They’re a lively team, they keep the ball well and they gave us some problems. But I thought second half we have something to build on hopefully.”
Honouring Jim Brennan
Prior to the match former captain Jim Brennan was honoured in a pre-game ceremony as the team unveiled the Wall of Honour to celebrate and honour those players who have forever etched their name into Toronto FC history. Brennan, who will now move up to the front office, finished his TFC career as the all-time leader in games played (84), and minutes (7,460) and scored four times and added four assists in his three years with the club.
TFC will have very little time to savour the win as they fly to Colorado to take on the Rapids on Sunday at 5pm.
Click here to view more photos from the home opener
Contact Aman Dhanoa at email@example.com
Photos courtesy of Annandi Merhai of Devi Designs