Rowe for Toja 60'
Barrett for McCarthy 74'
|Braun for Wiedeman 69'
Hall for Brockie 80'
Russell for Convey 89'
The headline is not wrong; you're not seeing double and you don't have to adjust the horizontal or the vertical. Matias Laba scored a goal, and the defence did the rest as TFC
cruised struggled laboured held on for their second ever win in Foxborough. At times it did look like the same old Reds were going to cough it up, but somehow the Revolution couldn't make them pay.
It's not like the Revolution didn't have their chances; and against a team like TFC chances are Jay Heaps must have been licking his lips in delicious glee. And for Jose Goncalves, snubbed at the All-Star Game, this was the perfect time to show the rest of MLS he could have been a useful piece. But it would be Laba who would turn the game on its head in just the second minute, after Andrew Wiedeman's attempt from a Reggie Lambe cross was ruled offside in the opening seconds.
The young Argentinian had never scored professionally in his time with Argentinos Juniors, and had only scored once two years ago playing for his U-22 national team at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. But that changed today, Laba stripping Goncalves about 10 yards into Toronto's half, before running to the edge of the box. He made a fool of Stephen McCarthy, before slipping his shot past Bobby Shuttleworth. Scott Caldwell managed to block that shot, but Laba followed up and knocked the rebound home, and TFC were ahead after just 2 minutes.
The Revolution were not cowed by this early setback though; and for pretty much the rest of the game poured on the pressure. Diego Fagundez would show his team's intent, skying a header off a Chris Tierney throw in the 10th minute. Joe Bendik didn't have to move far, but it showed how dangerous he was, given his previous victimization of TFC's back line the last time these two teams met.
And speaking of that same defensive line; when the home side asked the questions they actually looked like they had the answers. Just moments after Fagundez had showed his intent with a flashed shot, he would get a golden opportunity to tie the match in the 13th minute, when a bit of scrambled defending from Toronto left the ball right at his feet, except Ashtone Morgan was in the way to deflect the ball out of the danger zone. TFC fans across the country breathed a sigh of relief, but continued to clutch onto their heart medication as the onslaught continued; Dimitri Imbongo and Lee Nguyen continuing the relentless charge, pounding Bendik's goal.
But somehow, the ball stayed out; in the 34th minute New England would once again come agonizingly close to the sought-after equalizer; Fagundez (again!) with a glorious chance to tie the match, except this time Richard Eckersley got back in time to clear the ball off the line but not out of the Reds' half; Tierney would find his way behind the ball moments later, but his attempt would sail just high of the crossbar. Another bullet dodged, but on the other hand, it only strengthened the grip of frustration of the home side.
In the second half, it once again didn't seem like TFC had the answers to push back; with all the defending and the torrid pace, New England was allowed to dominate possession and chances, and sought to seal their dominance by introducing Kelyn Rowe for the largely ineffective Juan Toja. But despite the change, the pace of the attack gradually lost its edge, with Rowe rarely seen and Fagundez's 60th minute 1-on-1 attempt with Bendik was smothered by the keeper for a goal kick. TFC would eventually find a somewhat strangled response; Jeremy Brockie would get a shot in on Shuttleworth in the 78th minute, while Justin Braun (who had come on for Wiedeman at the stroke of the 70th minute) would put the ball into the net off a Jonathan Osorio tip...
...except it was called back for a very clear offside. Coach Ryan Nelsen would withdraw Brockie shortly afterward for Jeremy Hall, and to their great horror of many supporters, defensive turtling seemed to be the order of the day. It had cost them many a time before, and it seemed as though the coaching staff hadn't learned their lessons. But perhaps they saw something we didn't, or perhaps they read into the tiring and frustrated New England attack. Was it perhaps the fact that Lee Nguyen earned a yellow for a horrendous, cynical tackle on Lambe in the 79th minute?
Wise or not, for whatever the reason may be, New England found a little bit of a new headwind despite growing more frustrated by the TFC defense, seeing a need to replace Stephen McCarthy with Chad Barrett. The change put the pressure back on the visitors, culminating in two corner kicks at the death; Dimitry Imbongo's 92nd minute attempt off the first of those where he tried to give the ball a Maradonaesque "Hand of God" (for which the Congolese striker earned a yellow card), settled nary a nerve. Another corner shortly afterward was barely saved, and somehow somehow, TFC clung on for yet another road win, their 2nd of the season, 4th overall, and second in a row to bring them to 20 points overall.
It was not an easy match to watch, and watching the Revolution dominate most of the possession left many supporters remembering past ugly efforts, but this evening, for one night, they got away with it. Matias Laba proved himself to be a talent to watch for the future with his play, but the rest of the match doesn't exactly provide much confidence, considering it is Seattle and their prized new signing Clint Dempsey gallavanting across the country for a date next week.
But hey, two wins in a row? I think I'll take it for the time being.
* * *
WTR'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS TO THE GROIN...
|Golden Trophy: Matias Laba
||First ever pro goal, dominated the midfield again.
|Golden Trophy: Richard Eckersley||Without the stop, it would've been much different.
|Golden Trophy: Doneil Henry||Hate to say it, but did relatively decently.|
|Golden Trophy: Ashtone Morgan||
See: Eckersley, Richard. (I know.)
|Kick to the Groin: Reggie Lambe
||Looked like a liability in the midfield.
|Shots on Target||4||2|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||78||61|