Milos Kocic was saving everything at Gillette Stadium and he did it with a beard! Take that advertising!
It was not a dominant performance by any means but it was the kind of result that Toronto FC has struggled to get so many times. In the past, the Reds would have folded and gave away points when put under sustained pressure on the road but instead they showed just enough fight to come away with their second straight MLS win.
The 1-0 win over the New England Revolution will be extra sweet for TFC bench boss Paul Mariner as it allowed him to get one over on his former club. It also allowed him the chance to take bragging rights over Jay Heaps who used to play for him when he was the Rev's assistant coach. He won't be pleased about the injury that Danny Koevermans suffered on the plastic pitch at Gillette Stadium though.
Koevermans went down late in the first half following a collision in the Revs penalty area with what looked to be a fairly serious knee injury. There is no word yet on the extend of the injury as Mariner commented that it is not looking good but they will wait and see the extent of the damage when they get back to Toronto. Any time off for Koevermans would be painful considering the lack of secondary scoring in the side right now.
Ryan Johnson had a handful of chances in the match but really lacked the quality needed to apply the finish. Between firing wide, shooting right at the keeper, or passing the ball off instead of shooting he squandered every chance that came his way and that will be worrying if more of the scoring load is on his shoulders.
The good news is that Luis Silva is starting to show the class that made Toronto select him so early in this years SuperDraft. He notched his second goal in as many games thanks to a very calm finish in the penalty area for the only goal of the match in the 8th minutes. After some great work form Reggie Lambe, Silva worked a very good one-two on the edge of the penalty with Koevermans and then found himself clear in on goal. A nice simple side foot around the goalie found the side of the net for the only goal of the match.
The goal was one of a number of first half chances that TFC created following Stephen McCarthy making a very early exit with what appeared to be a head injury. He was replaced by Sharlie Joseph, a holding midfielder by trade, and that left the Revs back line looking very unorganized. Sadly though, Koevermans and Johnson both missed chances to take control of the game.The Revs were not held off the score board for lack of trying though. In fact, they used every possible means to get on the score board including attempting to cheat their way past Milos Kocic. They did manage to bulge the net in the second half when it seemed that Shalrie Joseph had leveled the score but it was correctly ruled out by the official (probably the one good call he made all night) as Joseph played the ball in with his hand.
Other than that it was all about Milos Kocic. The Revs pressed for all 52 minutes (yes, that is 7 minutes of added time) of the second half but every time they managed to create a good chance Kocic was right there with an even better save. He showed the entire range of skills from scrambling the ball away while sitting on the ground to making top class reaction saves. It took five or six really good saves from Kocic to keep his clean sheet intact and was certainly an effort deserving of Man of the Match.
Koevermans going down in the first half did open up room for Andrew Wiedeman to make his debut for TFC. He did not have much chance to show what he can do in the attack with the team defending the entire second half but he did show a good willingness to get back and help out with the defending. When he did get forward he struggled to read and react to Johnson but it was all the kind of things that will hopefully improve with more time together on the training field. Thinks like knowing where your forward partner likes to flick the ball or where he likes to run can only come with time and familiarity developed through practice.
Mariner did make some interesting personnel choices in the game including playing two of his defenders out of their natural positions. It is clear that he prefers using Richard Eckersley as a centre back so even with Jeremy Hall out injured he stuck with the Englishman in the middle. That mean that Doneil Henry was put out at right back and was put to a stiff test against Saer Sene who he actually keep fairly quiet in the first half. In the second half, there was another defender put out his natural position when Mariner brought on Aaron Maund and decided to use him as more of a holding midfielder than a CB. It seemed to work out alright but it was quite hard to tell as everyone in red was just scrambling to try and clear the ball at that point in the match.
TFC gave up a massive 13 corner kicks and almost as many dangerous free kicks which was more than a little worrying considering the club's struggles to defend set pieces. On this night they got away with it thanks for a lot of good clearing headers from Johnson and Henry along with a lot of scrambling to clear the ball.
It was far from an impressive display but it was certainly refreshing to see them picking up points in a game where they were second best for much of the time. It was also nice to see the club pick up its first ever road win in New England. A big result that continues the improvement under Mariner should set the club up well heading into their midweek match with the Colorado Rapids.