Four-gone sendoff for TFC

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

The wheels aren't coming off Toronto FC now, 11 games into their first season, but their expansion shackles are.

With yesterday's 4-0 win over Western Conference- leading FC Dallas -- a season-high in goals -- Toronto hits the road for six games in high spirits with the eventual return of its national-team players, plus the arrival of Tyrone Marshall and the possible signing of Colin Samuel.

Toronto improved its record to 4-6-1 and can't yet be counted out of Major League Soccer's wild-card playoff race in the autumn.

The one cloud over a record crowd of 20,156 at BMO Field yesterday was a minor right ankle injury to striker Danny Dichio minutes after heading the second goal. He went for X-rays and was to be re-assesed this morning.

"You lose your first four games and everyone writes you off as an expansion team," said midfielder Carl Robinson, player of the game with a goal and an assist.

"That hurts because I came here (from Norwich of the English League) to win. We set a standard and now we have to build on it."

Coach Mo Johnston's team got under the skin of a Dallas side playing its second road game in four days.

Six yellow cards were issued, one against Toronto's Maurice Edu for whipping off his shirt in the wake of scoring his first goal, the last four to Dallas.

Second-half goals by Robinson and Jeff Cunningham eased tension on the Toronto bench and Andrea Lombardo almost made it 5-0 after good hustle from Cunningham.

EXPANSION TEAM

"The guys in that locker room have not sat back and gone through the motions.They have entertained," Johnston said.

"I know we're an expansion team, but I think now that certain teams will want to adjust to us."

Watching yesterday was Marshall, a Jamaican defender whose debut after a trade was postponed by a suspension.

A buoyant Johnston was so happy with his defence yesterday that he said Marshall might be on the bench when TFC plays next against New England on Saturday.

"You've got to earn your spot," Johnston said.

Samuel, a striker formerly with Dundee United, has been working out here the past week while trying to iron out a contract.

Wary of having another MLS team scoop him after doing the legwork, Johnston filed a discovery claim, so no one can negotiate with him for the next few days.

There was a cohesiveness to Toronto's play that has been missing at key moments of late and the killer instinct in the second half gave the exuberant crowd excatly what it wanted.

The fairly easy shutout went to Srdjan Djekanovic, but Greg Sutton's eventual return from a minor concussion suffered at the CONCACAF Gold Cup might relegate him to the bench.

"That decision isn't up to me. I'll just show up and work as hard as I can," Djekanovic said.

"This game is something that will give us that extra step for the road trip."

Johnston's fears of a sparse bench were eased when midfielders Edu and Ronnie O'Brien were able to overcome hip flexor and back problems, respectively.

The six road games are necessitated by the coming under-20 FIFA event at BMO.

TFC returns home for a friendly against Aston Villa on July 25.

It faces the Chicago Fire on July 29 and finally, the hotly anticipated David Beckham/L.A. Galaxy match on Aug. 5.


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