Wheee! CREDIT: Abelimages/Getty Images
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I'm a shooting star leaping through the skies,
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity.
I'm a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva,
I'm gonna go, go, go; there's no stopping me.
- "Don't Stop Me Now", Queen
|Shots on Goal||14||12|
|Shots on Target||6||5|
Three wins in a row, and oh how things have changed in Toronto -- but it almost wasn't to be, after Ryan Johnson missed an early penalty won after Matt Pickens took down Luis Silva in the box, and Conor Casey had opened the scoring for the Rapids in the first half. But it was Johnson and Andrew Wiedeman whose two goals would light the fuse, and send Toronto on its way to another unlikely win, and on a fiery streak across the MLS sky no one had expected.
Granted, missing the penalty should have deflated the Reds, who had seized early control of the game -- the Rapids keeper was lucky to escape without a red card (on initial view it didn't look like it, but I digress), given that the referee Ismail Elfath had awarded two penalties and two red cards in the previous two games in charge. But the Reds kept on pressing, and really only started conceding more chances once Casey buried a Hunter Freeman pass in the 23rd minute.
The rest of the half consisted of some chances for the Reds, but nothing that Johnson or his strike partner Silva could bury. Whatever Mariner said in the dressing room during the break, it kept the Reds going and in the 51st minute Johnson was rewarded for his patience, after rounding a fallen Pickens to slot home the equalizer.
WIedeman's winning goal also came off a play that the Reds didn't give up on -- a Rapids clearance off a shot only got as far as Doneil Henry, who somehow showed some mad right wing skills to beat his man and pull it back for a Luis Silva shot that was deflected in by the former FC Dallas striker for the winner. After that, it was just about garnering possession to kill off the game to seal a third straight win, and keep the Rapids winless in Toronto. Edu (the Brazilian,, not Maurice Edu, he's still in Scotland) did get a good shot away at the end, but again, it was deftly defended to preserve the win.
Kudos does go to the TFC backline once again -- except for the Casey goal, the backline was solid. Ashtone Morgan played the game of his life against Omar Cummings, shutting down the Rapids' major goal threat all evening. Doneil Henry's work in the midfield was crucial in both Silva's goal attempt and Wiedeman's winner, while the rest of the midfield was generally solid in keeping possession, something that TFC has had trouble with in the past few games.
Up front, Johnson's goal only goes part of the way to dispel fans' fears of his inability to score in the absence of Danny Koevermans -- the Jamaican missed a few sitters in the first half, and perhaps should have handed the penalty to Silva instead of taking it on himself. The equalizer did show a calmer side to the striker, which we can only hope is the start of a goal scoring streak for him.
With the win, the Reds are temporarily out of the MLS basement for the first time this season, and could remain out depending on the result of Dallas's match with San Jose tonight. But before the Reds can try to gain more traction out of the basement, there's a little World Football Challenge (a.k.a. Pointless Mid-Season Friendly "Tournament") match with some red-clad team from the Merseyside of England, before they return to league play on July 28th to take on the Houston Dynamo.