Photo by Nick Turchiaro/ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Jermain Defoe’s move to Toronto FC cost the team a reported $50 million in transfer fees and total salary over the course of his contract.
While those numbers are hard to live up to, on Saturday afternoon, Defoe proved he was worth every penny.
Defoe provided TFC with the game-winning-goal in a crucial 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls at BMO Field. The win not only ended a three-game losing skid but also ended a ten-game winless streak against the Red Bulls at home, spanning nearly five years.
TFC were without Michael Bradley (international duty) and Julio Cesar (flu) but began the match on the front foot. Defoe proved to be a handful for both Red Bulls centerbacks Armando and Jamison Olave, while Jonathan Osorio and Kyle Bekker did a solid job controlling the midfield and spreading the ball out wide.
In the 12th minute, TFC took advantage of a poor turnover by Red Bulls defender Kosuke Kimura in midfield. Defoe was played down the right channel and fired an absolute blast into the near top corner, giving Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles no chance to make a save.
The Red Bulls never really recovered as they struggled to produce chances without Tim Cahill and Roy Miller, both on international duty. Eric Alexander and Dax McCarty were paired together in central midfield but at times operated the same space, and Johnny Steele on the left was very inconsistent with his positioning.
In the 62nd minute, the Red Bulls had their best chance to tie the score. Forward Thierry Henry beat his defender into the box and sent a left-footed cross into the middle. TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik could only get his fingertips to it, allowing the ball to move to Bradley Wright-Phillips at the far post.
Wright-Phillips completely missed his chance though, skying a shot in front of an empty net.
The game eventually degraded into a physical battle, with neither team seeming able to string four or five passes together in a row. Both teams finished with less than 80 percent passing accuracy and Armando and Defoe both were shown yellow cards for an embarrassing scuffle.
With the Red Bulls throwing everything forward, TFC scored their second goal in the fifth minute of injury time. Recently acquired forward Luke Moore ran onto a cleared ball from TFC’s box and after the ball took a strong hop off the field, the on-coming Robles crashed into his own player, substitute right back Chris Duvall, giving Moore an easy tap in to close out the match.