TFC shows early promise

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

It was big talk entering the season, especially from a team whose underachieving corporate cousins are named Raptors and Maple Leafs.

But the no longer fledgling Toronto FC showed it may just be ready to deliver now rather than in the distant future after a brilliant start to the Major League Soccer season last night in Kansas City.

Two second-half goals by Amado Guevara and a smashing Reds debut by Scarborough native and Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario vaulted TFC to a 3-2 win over the Wizards at Community America Ballpark.

De Rosario set up two scores while showing the leadership expected when TFC opened the vault to acquire him in the off-season, a signal to the team's loyal fan base that they intend to challenge for a playoff spot.

And with last night's win, the third-year franchise provided at least an early return on that promise.

"I've said to (the players), it's a long way to go but, they've set a high standard," TFC's second-year coach, John Carver said after the match. "I'm delighted with the three points, I'm delighted with the performance.

"Our away record last year wasn't great and it was important we came into the first game and got something."

They got plenty. Suddenly, a team which struggled to score goals through much of its history, was filling the net.

For the first time in its brief history, the team not only scored a goal in its season opener, but recorded a win.

Toronto native Jim Brennan, a franchise original, opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a play he both started and finished.

Brennan stripped the ball from Kansas City's Graham Zusi near midfield before feeding it to De Rosario, who showed the offensive leadership the team expects from him. The MLS veteran fed a perfectly timed pass to a flying Brennan who buried it past Wizards goaltender Kevin Hartman off his left foot.

Toronto went up 2-0 in the 53rd minute on a blast to the top right corner by Guevara, a lethal bender that stymied Hartman to give the visitors control.

The Wizards made a game of it just three minutes later, however, when Davy Arnaud launched a rocket to the top right corner, past rookie TFC goalkeeper, Stefan Frei.

Toronto wasted little time restoring the two-goal margin when Guevara easily buried a rebound off a De Rosario shot in the 62nd minute.

The Wizards weren't done though as Arnaud made the Reds sweat out the win with another rocket in the 76th minute. This time, the midfielder let one rip from outside the box, a slightly deflected shot Frei would have had trouble seeing, let alone stopping.

"Our goalkeeper couldn't have done anything about (the two that beat him)," Carver said. "It was his debut in the MLS and he looked like a seasoned pro."

De Rosario could have made his regular-season debut for his hometown even more special on a penalty kick in the 80th minute that sailed harmlessly over the top of the bar.

ROB.LONGLEY@SUNMEDIA.CA

els to Columbus to play the defending champion Crew next Saturday. Toronto will be without Guevara, who will be off for international duty with the Honduras.

But for a team that had trouble scoring - let alone winning - away from BMO Field the past two seasons, last night's curtain raiser should make that prospect less daunting.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca


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