With one beautiful free kick goal, Amado Guevara helped secure the three points for Toronto FC and helped TFC extend its winning streak to three matches.
Is this really the same team that started the season so poorly? The easy answer is no, not with newcomers Guevara, Laurent Robert and Rohan Ricketts turning the Toronto midfield into one of the best in MLS.
Kansas City might be asking similar questions about whether this is the same team that started the season. The Wizards got out of the gate quickly, going 2-0, but just one win in the next four matches has KC wondering what the problem is.
SBI Correspondents Duane Rollins and Mike Cross took in the action on Saturday and provide us with their takes on Toronto’s 2-0 victory:
Toronto giving fans a reason to sing
By DUANE ROLLINS
The song was first heard as we stood in line to enter BMO Field Saturday. A few die-hards stood to the side attempting to teach those entering the stadium its simple words.
Without the least bit of irony, they sang out:
We’re not (crap) anymore…
A two game winning streak and a spot—early as it might be—in the league’s top eight, had made the faithful giddy. They weren’t quite ready to proclaim TFC as the best, or even as very good. But, one thing was certain. Toronto wasn’t (crap) anymore.
Especially at home, where TFC is redefining what it means to have a home pitch advantage in MLS. Long time fans of other teams can be forgiven for growing tired of hearing about how successful TFC has been in the community. And, the warnings that those fans have provided about not taking full houses for granted are fair and well understood.
But, still…to sit in that park on a Saturday afternoon and breath in the atmosphere that is being created is something that can not be accurately described. It’s exhilarating, electric and organic. TFC’s 12th man is real. You can see its presence on the pitch and, last week, you knew that it wasn’t going to let Toronto lose the game.
To understand how dedicated the Toronto fan has become, consider this: At midnight Friday, the city’s transit workers unexpectedly walked off the job. With the trains and buses shut-down—and a Toronto Raptors NBA playoff game taking place at the same time just a couple miles up the road—there was legitimate worry that not all the seats would be filled.
Instead, the message boards began to light up with offers of rides. Bikes were taken out of storage. One fan I spoke to spent three hours walking to the game.
In the end there was nothing to worry about. The seats were filled. It was just another day at the park.
And, what a day it was. In the team’s brief history it is difficult to remember a game where TFC controlled so thoroughly from start to finish. Last year’s 4-0 thrashing of Dallas, perhaps, but even that game lacked the businesslike effectiveness of last Saturday.
Amado Guevara would end up getting the headlines with the brace (including a world class free kick that literally left the crowd gasping—that couldn’t have been a Toronto player that just did that, could it?), but after the game the talk was all about Marvell Wynne. The American international doesn’t get the attention of some of manger Mo Johnston’s other acquisitions, but he is consistently the engine that drives the TFC attack from the back.
More exciting, perhaps, was that other than Wynne the remainder of TFC’s back-line was pretty much invisible. And after the season’s first two games, an invisible TFC fullback is a good thing. A very good thing.
No, there was nothing (crap) about TFC’s performance Saturday. Actually, it was so good that it had some TFC fans willing to set the bar a little higher. They weren’t ready to yell it from the rooftops quite yet, but quietly—and with layers upon layers of qualifiers—there were more than a few that were willing to point out that a TFC win on Thursday would put the team tied with Columbus—at the top of the table!
Now that would be something worth singing about.
Wizards still a hard team to figure out
By MIKE CROSS
This one isn’t easy to write about. Once again the Wizards are proving a tough team to gage. Toronto came away from this game with a well deserved win. They dominated play for long stretches of the game and seemed to by far have the better of the chances.
Strangely though, in looking back at the stats they didn’t necessary support the feel of the match which felt like the Wizards were under siege for much of it. The final stats showed the Wizards having the better of both shots on goal and corners. Much of this must have come in the last frantic minutes of the game, skewing the numbers.
What isn’t easy to gauger is just what is this Wizard team’s personality. If you had to judge by the last three games you’d say they were a low scoring defensive team, but I can’t believe that’s what we’ll be saying about them come the end of the season. Without evidence to the contrary though at this early stage of the season we just can’t get a handle on who these Wizards are.
All that said though this game was an excellent example of how closely matched teams in the MLS are. This isn’t the EPL with a group of clubs clearly superior to the rest of the league. For me the difference in the game came down to a couple of moments where the Wizards had a lapse of concentration. Although the Wizards seemed to be under attack for most of the game they appeared to be weathering the storm pretty well. It looked like they would have an excellent chance to split the points. But then in the 56th minute they had their first lapse.
On Toronto’s first goal it seemed to me the Wizards were slow to react to the developing threat and choose to appeal for off sides instead of closing down Guevara when the ball deflected off a Wizards player and fell to him. Then in the 77th minute as the Wizards were pressing for an equalizer, Carlos Marinelli committed a needless foul at the top of the eighteen yard box. This second lapse in concentration led to the free kick also taken by Guevara which iced the game. What it all comes down to for me is that these two instances were the difference between Toronto and the Wizards on Saturday.
You can’t comment on this game without giving props to the Toronto FC fans. They have clearly created the best game day atmosphere in MLS. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing and they are more like Europeans than us Americans and so more predisposed to the game the rest of the world calls football. For the sake of MLS what I hope it is that we’ve just not pushed the right buttons to bring all the soccer fans already here into the fold.
Is there cause for concern for the Wizards based on this game? That’s the question I asked myself when I couldn’t really get myself worked up over the loss. What I kept thinking is it’s a long season. It’s not like we weren’t expecting that there’d be games like this in a long season. So I’m thinking I’ll just let this one ride.