|Stefan Frei dives to make a save|
Toronto FC extended its unbeaten streak to eight games and also remain undefeated at home this season after hanging on to 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field.
There were several heroes this afternoon for Toronto as the team fought hard all game long but especially in the closing minutes with Colorado threatening to even the match.
From ex-Rapids midfielder Nick LaBrocca clearing a ball off the line to Stefan Frei making timely diving saves to Faud Ibrahim being at the right place at the right time to score the game winner – Coach Preki was proud of his team for battling hard and holding on for the victory.
“You’re just hoping that they’re going to find a way and they understand they way how to close the game down,” said Preki when asked his thoughts about the final minutes.
“Stefan makes a couple of good saves, a couple of guys get a couple of good clearances and that’s what a team is all about. Commitment to winning and we won.”
With the victory, Toronto (6-4-4), who remain third in the Eastern conference, pulled within three points of the New York Red Bulls and vaulted five points clear of the Chicago Fire. With loss, Colorado (6-4-4) had their six game unbeaten streak snapped and failed to increase their lead over fourth place FC Dallas in the Western Conference.
Ibrahim Scores Winner
|Faud Ibrahim celebrates after
scoring his first goal of the season
Both teams played an up-tempo style in the first half and the game was moving at a good pace but neither team created many dangerous scoring chances and only Colorado was credited with a shot on goal.
Preki made a couple of changes to start the second half bringing in newly signed Brazilian forward Maicon Santos and Nick Garcia for O’Brian White and Martin Saric.
In the second half, the Rapids nearly capitalized early off a defensive miscue when Omar Cummings dribbled the ball just outside the crease but his shot was stopped by Frei’s outstretched hand as he dove to his right.
After the early chance, TFC seemed to wake up and elevated their game to another level. The team created numerous chances that obviously frustrated some of the Rapids players who were seen yelling at one another for defensive breakdowns.
As the half wore on, Toronto played with confidence and created space inside the Rapids defence with crisp passing and maintaining possession. It seemed like only a matter of time before TFC capitalized and in the 61st minute the Reds finally got on the board.
|Nana Attakora receives
treatment for a cramp in
the second half
Chad Barrett’s cross from the left touchline into the crease was won by Ibrahim in the air and just beat out defender Danny Earls to the ball. The ball fell just ahead of Ibrahim who held off another defender and managed to knock the ball past the helpless Rapids goalkeeper while falling down to give TFC a 1-0 lead.
Ibrahim was making a rare start and was glad that he made the most of his opportunity to score his first goal of the season.
“Every time you get a chance, just trying to work hard and trying put myself in a good position to score and I think I did that today,” said Ibrahim. “It was a good goal and I’m happy for it.”
Limping to the Finish
Toronto slowed their pace towards the end of the match as defender Nana Attakora and Ibrahim were cramping up on the field. Both players required treatment and continued playing but Ibrahim was seen limping in the final twenty minutes of the match.
At times TFC found themselves down to nine or ten men when players were receiving treatment off the field. As a result the team was forced to finish the game playing a more defensive approach since Preki had already made all his substitutions.
In the 80th minute, TFC defender Dan Gargan was absolutely drilled in the face by a Jeff Larentowicz shot and despite being dazed also finished the game.
|LaBrocca saves a goal in extra time|
With all the stoppages due to the cramping and Gargan’s shot to the face, five minutes of injury time was tacked on to the end of the match. This produced some nervous moments for Toronto as they tried to close out the game.
The Rapids nearly tied the game in the second minute of added time, when Larentowicz’s perfectly placed shot was headed off the goal line by LaBrocca.
“I was just trying to stay low because there were a lot of people out front and just try to keep my eye on the ball,” said LaBrocca. “The ball just came and just a natural reflex, just get it out.”
On the ensuing corner kick Toronto defenders had trouble clearing the ball around the crease as it bounced around in different directions before LaBrocca cleared the ball out of play once again.
In the final minute Larentowicz was robbed again from just outside the box when his shot to the far corner was parried away by Frei as TFC barely held on to win the game. Frei finished with five saves and another clean sheet, his sixth of the season.
Toronto will now travel to Philadelphia to take on the Union next Saturday at 3:30pm at Lincoln Financial Field.
Contact Aman Dhanoa at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of JP Dhanoa
Contact Aman Dhanoa at email@example.com