Toronto FC reaches halfway point

Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 5:39 PM ET

Toronto FC reached the halfway point of its season last night, with a win, a trade and hopes of first place and the playoffs alive and well.

Taking full advantage of an undermanned and listless New York Red Bulls team for the second time in 11 days, TFC (6-5-4) weaved passes at will in a 2-0 win before 20,902 at BMO Field.

But the road gets harder in the second half of the season with four of the first five games on the road and a busy schedule of friendlies and CONCACAF tournament games in July and August.

“We set ourselves a target of six points from these two games and have given ourselves a big push for the league (lead),” coach Chris Cummins said. “Not just the players, but the whole staff is getting a taste of that winning mentality as well.

“We’re not going to rest, the playoffs is our next target. We struggled last year in the league, this time will be different.”

Cummins gave sparkplug striker Danny Dichio the first hour of last night’s game off to boost the confidence of scoreless Pablo Vitti and unproductive Chad Barrett and they responded with a goal and assist, respectively. Barrett had a goal waved off by a hairline offside before setting up Dwayne De Rosario’s 59th-minute clincher.

Before the game, general manager Mo Johnston announced he’d dealt defender/midfielder Kevin Harmse to Chivas USA for allocation money, which is used primarily to keep a team under the MLS salary cap.

According to Johnston’s press release, Harmse, a Canadian citizen who was born in South Africa, wanted to move back to the United States to work after playing 2007 with the Los Angeles Galaxy and is thus returning to a California team. Harmse already was en route to Los Angeles when the deal was made, having been named to Canada’s Gold Cup team, which is training in the area prior to playing Jamaica on July 3.

But the way Nana Attakora was directing traffic last night at the back with Nick Garcia and Adrian Serioux (captain Jim Brennan moved to a midfield role), the team can get by without Harmse and with Marvell Wynne on bench warming duty with Team USA at the Confederations Cup. Cummins said he would have a “massive problem” trying to fit Wynne and Attakora, who had two assists, in the same starting 11 if both were available today.

“Nana can play centre-half or right-back and the kid is improving all the time,” Cummins said. “There’s just a couple of times when you have to hold him back from joining in (the attack) and we have to tell him to keep your shape’.”

In the 28th minute, Vitti scored his first goal in 14 MLS games and first at BMO since a July 15 friendly when he was visiting with his old club, Independiente of Argentina. Attakora fed him beautifully with New York players scurrying around in a panic, as Vitti waited to control the ball on the bouncy FieldTurf and calmly headed it home.

Vitti pretended to dust himself off after the goal, saying later he was showing how he could now “brush off the pressure”.

“I’m just as happy for the fans,” the ecstatic forward said through an interpreter.

If there was going to be a guaranteed “win night” promotion for TFC it should have been last evening. New York was 2-10-4 coming in, and remains winless on the road (0-8-1, with just one goal), part of a league-record 20-game road winless streak. Toronto had just won the Nutrilite Cup in Montreal and had a chance to move into second place in the East with three points.

The Bulls also were without suspended defenders Mike Petke and Kevin Goldthwaite and while not in the same universe as the Yankees or Giants, an underwhelming team in the Big Apple is still in the media spotlight and that means coach Juan Carlos Osorio is feeling the heat.

Cummins said he rested Dichio in part to play him the full 90 minutes this Saturday in Salt Lake City.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos