||2||0||2||Robert Earnshaw 3', (PK) 21'|
|SPORTING KANSAS CITY||0||1||1||Claudio Bieler 77'|
Danny Califf 77'
Richard Eckersley 86'
Darren O'Dea 90'+5
Paulo Nagamura 24'
Aurelien Collin 39'
Seth Sinovic 75'
Benny Feilhaber 79'
|Substitutions||Jonathan Osorio for Terry Dunfield 82'
Darel Russell for John Bostock 85'
Kyle Bekker for Hogan Ephraim 87'
|C.J. Sapong for Bobby Convey 45'
Soony Saad for Benny Feilhaber 82'
It was another Saturday afternoon, but SkyDome was shakin' as Robert Earnshaw's early brace sent the TFC faithful to the nearby pubs in stunned happiness, and with the 2-1 win over Sporting KC snapped a 15 game winless streak in league play, stretching back to the middle of last summer.
But it didn't come without the obligatory nervous moments, TFC allowed Sporting most of the possession and chances in the second half. When Claudio Bieler did finally break through in the middle of the second half, it was already too late: a combination of two first half goals, and various wasted soft chances, was enough to earn Toronto the three points.
You'd be forgiven if you had a feeling of deja vu going into this match, but Earnshaw allayed some of those fears early, stripping Aurelien Collin of the ball off an errant pass from Matt Besler, and slotting it calmly past Jimmy Nielsen to open the scoring. It was a poacher's goal, preying on an error from a backline suffering from the loss of Roger Espinoza. It's something that many TFC strikers have tried (and failed) to do in the past six seasons, and it filled the 'Dome with a sudden, unexpected wave of joy.
John Bostock would help double the home fans' pleasure less than 17 minutes later, charging hard into the box and around Seth Sinovic, and in response Paulo Nagamura took him down inside the penalty area, to earn TFC a spot kick. It may have looked dubious for some, but on television it looked like a fair call from the ref Fotis Bazakos. Earnshaw would make absolutely no mistake on the ensuing kick, a stutter step sending Nielsen the wrong way and KC would be in a 2-0 hole with just a little under three quarters of the game to go.
TFC continued to put the pressure on, and Earnshaw almost made it a hat trick in the 31st minute, however Reggie Lambe's errant cross skipped across the goal mouth instead of finding the wide open Earnshaw. It was definitely not what the pessimists (read almost every TFC supporter) were expecting when the game started. However, in the second half they would be proven (partially) correct. As in last week's match TFC once again came out flat in the second as if they had milk, cookies and naps instead of oranges at half.
And as they did against Philly the week before, KC fought back -- and in typical TFC fashion, they sat back and let the visitors pile on massive amounts of pressure. The addition of C.J. Sapong for Bobby Convey at half almost cost TFC dearly, the forward ringing the ball off the post in the 61st minute, and he would be a nuisance the rest of the way. The visitors would put up 12 shots to TFC's 1 in the whole of the second half.
It would be a very rapid strike to get Sporting KC back into the game in the 77th minute, after a fracas in the KC half that resulted in a goal kick. Bieler would find almost every red shirt out of position (especially Danny Califf, who was slow to get back after spending time chatting to the ref), and latch on to a Sapong header and blast it past Joe Bendik, who had no chance to save. It was a harsh way to concede, but it was fair given how poorly Bieler and even Sapong's pass was dealt with by the TFC defense, and it gave the hardened TFC support visions of late conceded goals and games past.
But somehow, by hook or by crook, TFC survived the late KC pressure. Bieler would come close multiple times in stoppage time, which included a number of KC corners. But they were all defended, and the Reds survived almost six extra minutes to come away with a win. It wasn't the most comfortable way to win given how much sitting back the team did after scoring the two goals, but it is a win nevertheless. There are still a few more things to work on (including staying in place) for Ryan Nelsen in the coming week before the team heads off to Montreal to face the Impact. But for a second week in a row, the defense held on.
So the team, which started 2012 with a 0-9 run, is now 1-1 for the 2013 season. Is this the start of a new trend? John Bostock definitely showed his trouble making capabilities to the Sporting defense in the first half, drawing fouls, showing some slick footwork and winning penalties; rather than outright diving with little reward (something that Carlos Ruiz was guilty of) -- and while time will tell if the Bostock signing will be a boon, so far all signs point to "yes". And with Luis Silva and Julio Cesar on their way back, is there room for genuine hope? Again, it's still far too early to say -- but at least for tonight, pessimism can take just a short little break with the Wizard of Earnshaw in front.
WAKING THE RED'S GOLDEN TROPHIES/KICKS TO THE GROIN...
|Golden Trophy: Robert Earnshaw
||Two goals on MLS home debut, not a bad day at the office.|
|Golden Trophy: John Bostock||Won the penalty and made a nuisance of himself with SKC's backline.|
|Kick to the groin: SKC's front office||What made you think letting Espinoza go was a good idea?|
|Golden Trophy: The TFC defense||Held its shape throughout the 90 minutes, except that one moment.|
|Kick to the Groin: The TFC defense||Absorbing pressure is not going to win every game.|
|Kick to the Groin: Danny Califf||No handbags are worth being out of place for!
|Golden Trophy: Ryan Nelsen
||First MLS win as coach, heading TWO competent performances.|
|Shots on Goal||5||16|
|Shots on Target||3||6|
|Passing Accuracy (%)||60||81|