October 2, 2010
TFC defence fizzles under pressure
By GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency
For a second straight week, defensive lapses proved costly for Toronto FC against a team in direct competition for playoff spots. And for a second week in a row, Toronto FC came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line.
The Seattle Sounders were the dominant side throughout Saturday, surely ending any miniscule possibility of a miracle TFC run for the playoffs.
The San Jose Earthquakes are now the only team TFC can catch for a playoff spot. The Earthquakes, who beat TFC last week, need only one point from four games to assure Toronto is on the outside looking in at the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Toronto FC will become the first franchise in Major League Soccer history to not qualify for the playoffs within their first four years. And TFC will join San Jose (1997-2000) as the only team failing to make the playoffs over a four-year stretch.
Saturday, the second-year Sounders showed the creativity, the pace, and the cutting edge needed to regularly compete in MLS. Seattle had the visitors on the back foot from the opening whistle; making it even more shocking Toronto was able to scoop an unlikely opener.
It was Mr. Everything for Toronto FC, Dwayne De Rosario stepping up against the run of play giving belief the Reds could leave the Pacific Northwest with points in hand.
In the 16th minute, a perfectly weight ball from Maicon Santos sent De Rosario in alone behind the Seattle backline. TFC’s Captain struggled to gain proper control of the ball on the artificial turf, but did well to square his body to goal and strike with his toe in stride before two oncoming defenders and goalkeeper Kasey Keller could intervene. In true goal scorer’s fashion, De Rosario put the ball over Keller’s right shoulder, kissing the ball off the near post and into the top hand corner.
Insert “Sign the Check” jokes here. But the whole notion De Rosario has to do anything more to prove his worth is laughable. 13 goals on a team void of any offensive firepower speaks volumes.
Seattle defender Jeff Parke had his finger bent the wrong direction on the play, halting the re-start of proceedings. When action resumed, momentum swung back in Seattle’s favour rather quickly
In the 21st minute, TFC’s backline was punished for playing all-too flat, with Osvaldo Alonso playing Steve Zakuani through alone. The linesman’s flag stayed down, and the 2009 SuperDraft first overall pick calmly took a touch past goalkeeper Stefan Frei, scoring his 9th of the season into a wide-open net.
It was a fitting goal, considering Toronto FC’s centre-back duo of Ty Harden and Adrian Cann had been caught out multiple times prior to Zakuani’s strike.
In the 26th minute, Cann was directly at fault for Seattle’s second goal, this time for porous marking on a set piece. Designated Player Blaise Nkufo was left wide open just outside the six-yard box, heading home the out-swinging ball for his 5th goal in three games. The Switzerland International’s finish was elementary, as Frei was left for waste: an inexcusable mistake by his centre-back.
A minute later, Seattle almost made it three when Cann, nonchalantly dealt with an innocent cross, flicking his header right on to the foot of a streaking Sanna Nyassi. The young winger narrowly missed the target, surprised the ball landed on his foot in the first place.
Cann’s terrible day continued in the second half, again misplaying a clearance to Nyassi. This time, the opportunity wouldn’t be put to waste.
It was another innocent cross and another poor clearance by Cann, right on the foot of a waiting Nyassi on top of the 18-yard box. Without hesitation, the winger struck with his left-foot; a top-corner blast worthy of a memorable first goal in Major League Soccer.
Toronto got a consolation in the 88th minute. Some nice work down the wing by recent TFC Academy call-up Nicholas Lindsay and a well placed cross, found Chad Barrett alone in the middle, where the striker headed home his 7th of the season.
The game fizzled out from there, much like Toronto’s season.
Designated Player Mista was a mysterious absentee for the Reds. According to match commentators, the Spaniard warmed up before the game, but was deemed unavailable for the match, dealing with a ‘foot contusion’: an ominous omission for a player with a laundry list from here to Spain of reasons for not playing.