September 5, 2010
TFC fall in uninspiring fashion
By GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency
Jeff Cunningham keeps haunting Toronto FC.
The former TFC striker, who was unceremoniously dumped by Toronto’s Major League Soccer club, gave a glimpse of what Toronto is missing, scoring the winner against his former side in an otherwise dire 1-0 FC Dallas victory.
The goal was Cunningham’s 8th of the season and 129th of his MLS career. Cunningham sits only three goals behind Jamie Moreno for most in MLS history.
Although Cunningham was ridiculed for his knack of failing to convert golden goal-scoring opportunities while in Toronto, he wouldn’t make the same mistake Saturday night after being sent in alone on goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
In the first minute of the second half, Frei was left stranded by his backline, with TFC’s defence grossly misplaying the offside trap. The back-line was playing far too high, trying to play Cunningham offside.
While Cunningham was in an offside position, Marvin Chavez was not, streaking down a wide-open right-hand side. The ball was played over the top to Chavez, with left-back Nick Garcia nowhere to be seen.
Chavez and Cunningham went in alone on Frei, with the prior proving unselfish, choosing to play set-up man, playing a square ball to Cunningham in the middle of the box. The talisman took a touch, before sliding the ball past a helpless Frei into the bottom right corner.
The goal was Dallas’ MLS best 19th second half goal of the season. And TFC’s continuing inability to find the goal yet again proved costly.
Finding an equalizer was never going to be easy for a team that’s only scored 22 goals in 22 MLS games, and with a roster that includes no player having scored more than two goals this MLS campaign.
TFC striker O’Brian White should have added to his underwhelming two goals on the year and equalized in the 63rd minute. Right-back Maksim Usanov did well to win a strong challenge on Brek Shea, and subsequently found White over the top, in stride, just outside the six yard box. White got his head to the ball, but failed to take advantage after hitting it over the bar. TFC needed more from their striker at that moment. Misses as such are those that have come to define Toronto’s season.
Without requisite creative players or play, most of TFC’s chances came from hopeful or glancing headers.
MLS Player of the Month for August, FC Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, did well in the 5th minute to tip Ty Harden’s well-placed header over his bar. In the 42nd minute, all Hartman had to do was watch as Joseph Nane failed to re-direct Dan Gargan’s ball over the top, heading innocently wide. Both Harden and fellow centre-back Adrian Cann also failed to put headers on goal in the last 10 minutes.
Hartman ended any TFC hope of leaving Texas with a point in the 90th minute, coming out well to save substitute Jacob Peterson’s effort on goal.
Other than Cunningham’s decisive moment, there was little to separate the two teams that 13 points now separates in the standings.
There was a clear lack of quality on display, with both teams missing key players.
FC Dallas were without star midfielder Daniel Hernandez and starting forward Atiba Harris, out through suspension. Forward Milton Rodriguez was also unavailable through injury.
TFC were notably playing without regular starters central defender Nana Attakora, centre-midfielder Julian de Guzman, and midfielder/striker Dwayne De Rosario, all away on International duty for Canada. All three were released from the Canadian National team following Saturday’s match against Peru and will be available for TFC’s critical match in Chicago Wednesday.
The Chicago Fire sit two points behind TFC with two games in hand in the Eastern Conference standings, with both teams on the outside looking in on playoff spots. TFC sits two points back of San Jose for the last playoff spot.
TFC midfielder Martin Saric will be unavailable Wednesday after picking up a red card in the 90th minute.
Notes: FC Dallas is unbeaten in 13 straight games and have only lost two games this season ... TFC has only one road win this season ... Goalkeeper Stefan Frei is TFC’s only player that played Saturday, as well as Toronto’s last visit to Dallas last season ... Defender Nick Garcia wore the Captain’s arm-band in Dwayne De Rosario’s absence.