||0||2||2||Henry 49', Wiedeman 81'|
|Cautions||Wiedeman 84'||Mallace 55'|
Ephraim for Braun 71'
Silva for Bekker 71'
Romero for Mapp
Paponi for Mallace 60'
Pisanu for Nyassi 77'
It was a lacklustre game that gave a lacklustre result: that's how this report would have opened if the game had ended at half time. Instead, Doneil Henry's 49th minute golazo from outside the box, followed by a lovely pass from Luis Silva to Andrew Wiedeman in the 81st, was enough to secure a 2-0 win for Toronto FC heading into the second leg in Montreal next Wednesday. It wasn't the prettiest of games, but when you have two sides fielding B squads...what were you expecting?
The Impact played almost definitely their worst game of the season so far. That works well when you have a TFC side that is playing just as bad; quality chances were rather rare, but they were there. An eighth minute throw in deep in the Montreal box from Ryan Richter was headed in to the side netting. Ten minutes later, the out of favour John Bostock would hit a shot right into Montreal's backup 'keeper Evan Bush; the ensuing corner would go nowhere, but TFC, despite the horrendous play, would keep pressing.
The Impact would have a glance here and there, a dangerous cross in the 37th minute saved by Stefan Frei, who was getting his first start in over a year. But somehow, nothing seemed to shake the game out of its self-imposed stupor. Justin Braun would have a through ball in the 44th minute, but it would be defended by Maxim Tissot before it could get to Wiedeman. That would be how the first half ended -- with everyone wondering if there is going to be a goal at all this game. Kyle Bekker, who was making his second appearance, looked out of his depth and was rather poor in the time he was on the field. But with that statement applying to many of his teammates, the game seemed doomed to a 0-0 scoreline.
But when you least expect it, things happen. Toronto FC came out charging in the second half, possibly after a nice tongue-lashing from Ryan Nelsen in the locker room at the half. Marco Schallibaum, who was shown to be exchanging pleasantries on national television with the fourth official just before the whistle...well, we don't know what happened, but the Impact kept on playing flatly. That would cost them dearly in the 49th minute, when a poorly struck John Bostock corner was barely cleared out by the Impact defence. The ball would eventually end up on the foot of Doneil Henry, who surprised everyone by hammering it into the top corner, giving Bush no chance. Deserved or not, it was the goal that set the rest of the half in motion.
TFC would keep pressing after that, Ashtone Morgan would get a look at goal with a tricky angled cross four minutes later that Bush would barely get a hand on, while a Braun free kick would catch the Montreal 'keeper well off his line...and almost went in if not for some desperate defending. Montreal would make a change at the 60th minute, bringing on Andres Romero and Daniele Paponi (newly arrived from Bologna), and it seemed as though Montreal looked like they had resumed full service: Collen Warner would sky a shot in the 64th minute in what was the scariest moment for TFC's back line in the match at that point, and the Impact would continue to pour on the pressure by the bucketful.
But that would last for a grand total of about five minutes, before TFC would resume their shooting gallery at Bush. Tissot would concede two straight corners after bundling down Bostock in the 73rd minute, but again TFC could not capitalize. Fears of yet another late game collapse (and this time with the away-goals rule in effect, for extra deadliness) arose in the minds of TFC supporters across the land, as Montreal would once again dictate the pace of play. And for the first time in the match, the Impact actually looked like they had the wherewithal to score, especially after bringing on Andreas Pisanu in the 78th minute to add some heft to the Montreal mid.
But after the three Impact subs made a difference in the game, it took TFC just one to make the biggest impact. Luis Silva...yes, Luis Silva: he's been stellar so far in the 2013 season, setting up goals. It would once again fall to the little Angeleno to make a difference, breaking the Montreal thrust on an attack, and then setting up Andrew Wiedeman alone...the "best finisher in the modern era" didn't disappoint, and effectively sealed the game (not the tie) for Toronto. There would be the scattered chance for the killer third (or even the fourth), but a skittish TFC would pass on the chance, and the game would end on a 2-0 scoreline.
It's not the most satisfactory of performances, but for a team that is short on confidence, not only winning but also not conceding any late goals is definitely a positive sign, and doing it without many of the first team in the lineup is
like the crunchy topping on a well-made creme brulee a bonus. While some commentators bemoaned the lack of effort to get the killer goal, others did note that for a team that is skittish about late game concessions, it's a natural reaction. That kind of killer instinct will come as time goes on, and even though the possibility of an appearance by the absent-tonight Marco di Vaio is a looming threat for the second leg, it's definitely not the end of the world.
John Bostock looked impressive in the midfield, and got into many tangles that gave the Impact defense fits. Maybe it was the fact that he was likely in the last chance saloon, but it's definitely refreshing to see some positive contribution for the beleaguered attacking midfielder. The second team as a whole showed a fair amount of promise, despite some of the hiccups that were seen late in the game (before Wiedeman would put the match to bed) -- all in all, it wasn't the prettiest of pictures, and for sure had its Jekyll/Hyde moments, but it definitely sets up nicely for next week, does it not?
* * *
WTR'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS TO THE GROIN...
|Golden Trophy: Luis Silva
||Son, you're a star.
|Golden Trophy: Paul Ward
||No controversial calls! Whoohoo!
| Kick to the Groin: Kyle Bekker
||My goodness son, that was terrible.|
Golden Trophy: Doneil Henry
||Now that is what I call a howitzer.
|Kick to the Groin: Andrew Wiedeman
||Don't fight with the refs, you only get cards.
|Kick to the Groin: Empty seats
||In Western Calgary....oh you know the rest.|
|Golden Trophy: John Bostock
||When in the last chance saloon...
|Shots on Goal||16||4|
|Shots on Target||11||2|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||73||75|