90 minutes and we're all square. Just like this challenge. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
|TORONTO FC|| 1
|Ryan Johnson 66'||GOALS||Eric Hassli 90' + 2|
Jeremy Hall 11'
Terry Dunfield 49'
90 minutes down, only 90 more to go, and it's advantage Toronto FC thanks to a 66th minute strike by Ryan Johnson off a Julian de Guzman cross that gives the Reds an advantage heading into the second and deciding leg of the Voyageurs Cup -- to quote Lady Gaga:
I'm on the edge of glory,
And I'm hanging on a moment of truth.
Out on the edge of glory,
And I'm hanging on a moment with you.
- Lady Gaga, "Edge of Glory"
It's not the best result that TFC could have gotten out of the match considering the way they attacked and how close they came to win, but with the way the match ebbed and flowed from one end to another, it is safe to say it is a very fair result. With that, Toronto is once again sitting on the Edge of Glory.
The Reds were coming off a bye week and were playing without Torsten Frings, Miguel Aceval (injury) and Richard Eckersley (suspended), while the Whitecaps were playing at home after losing a weekend match in New England. Both teams showed intent to win the trophy, and the early action showed it.
But despite a number of excellent chances from both sides no one was able to convert until six minutes after the hour mark when a spot-on cross from de Guzman found Ryan Johnson in the penalty area, and the Jamaican had no problem heading it back across Joe Cannon and into the far side of the net. The Reds secured their advantage, and most Reds supporters held their breath in anticipation of another bus-parking.
Fortunately, the call never came from Aron Winter, as all three substitutions were offensive minded. Winter brought on Danny Koeverman shortly before the goal was scored, and then brought on Nick Soolsma and Luis Silva to try to press home the advantage, which was marked by a number of penetrating runs into the Vancouver area...if not for a lack of a left foot from Joao Plata, and a good low save from Cannon from a wide open Nick Soolsma, the Toronto advantage may have been doubled or tripled.
| Shots on Goal
| Shots on Target
| Yellow Cards
| Red Cards
| Duels Won
| Possession %
The defense, despite a few shaky moments especially in the first half, was able to keep Vancouver's chances (mostly off the boots of Sebastien Le Toux and Camilo Sanvezzo) to a minimum, and relatively tame at that, Ashtone Morgan in particular had a great game at both ends of the pitch. There were of course some of the same individual errors that have haunted TFC all season, but Milos Kocic was able to smother most of the chances and make sure they didn't really hurt the reds this time. However, a howitzer from Eric Hassli two minutes before the end of stoppage time could not be saved, and Vancouver pulled the game from the fire.
The Reds will rue the fact that they were not able to press home the advantage when they had the chance, Hassli's missile notwithstanding. In the end, the Reds had 14 chances on Cannon, eight on target but only 1 that made its way to the back of the net. The usual defensive hiccups caused a few palpitations amongst the Reds faithful, but the likes of Morgan, Doneil Henry, Adrian Cann and Terry Dunfield were able to keep it together, despite Dunfield losing his cool after incurring the yellow card.
The stats reflect the closeness of the match, despite the 20% gap in possession, the Reds looked like they were willing to go for the ball, and keep it when they were able -- and then attack. It's something that Reds supporters have seen very little of during the league season so far. The refereeing was questionable (to both sides at least so no real accusations of bias can be flung around), with a number of mysterious fouls that either were given a card for, or was called for reasons unknown -- a poor reflection of Canadian refereeing, especially since this is a tournament to determine Canada's entrant into the CONCACAF Champions League.
Regardless, the scene now shifts back to Toronto next week for the grand finale of the Voyageurs Cup -- TFC will have a Saturday night match against D.C. United, and then will head home to face off for the trophy next Wednesday night.