On a day that Toronto FC's supporters bid farewell to Danny Dichio, they also owed a lot of thanks to goalkeeper Brian Edwards.
In for the second straight game as regular starter Stefan Frei continues to struggle with an injured hand, Edwards made a string of key saves to preserve a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake at BMO Field, keeping the Reds' playoff hopes alive going into next week's regular-season finale against New York. New England's 0-0 tie with Chicago guaranteed that Toronto will have a share of the eighth and final playoff spot going into next weekend.
"I think last week I proved that I belong here. This week I proved that I can help the team win a game," said Edwards.
Jim Brennan got the goal that earned the Reds the victory in front of 20,384 raucous fans, rolling in a rebound after RSL keeper Nick Rimando came out of his goal to deny Chad Barrett's initial strike. And TFC also owe some thanks to RSL defender Jamison Olave, who had the chance to clear Brennan's roller off the goal line, but whiffed. Brennan, a left-sided player, steered the ball towards goal with his right foot.
'"I thought to myself: 'Jim Brennan on his right foot is not going to make this happen,' " Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said.
"I don't think anyone expected me to score with my right foot," Brennan said laughing. "But a goal is a goal."
As soon as the national anthems concluded, a 250-foot long banner -- constructed by all of the TFC supporters' groups -- was unfurled, covering almost all of the south stand. The banner was a fan tribute to the recently-retired Danny Dichio, scorer of the first goal in TFC history and currently the top scorer in franchise history.
Soon after that, the Edwards show began. Before the game was a minute old, he robbed RSL forward Fabian Espindola, who collected a long kick from goalkeeper Nick Rimando, then lashed a volley that was earmarked for the roof of the Toronto net. But Edwards made a fingertip save.
Edwards then stopped Yura Movsisyan on a breakaway in the 24th minute, blocking a vicious shot after he collected a great through ball from Espindola.
While TFC's Amado Guevara hit a crossbar with a free kick, RSL held the play for most of the first half, and Edwards held his team in, allowing Brennan to become the second-half hero. And Edwards ensured the win when he stretched to palm a shot from sub Robbie Findley just wide of the post with 20 minutes left.
Now, even if Frei gets healthy, can coach Chris Cummins make any other choice but to start Edwards in next Saturday's do-or-die match?
"I hope so," said Edwards. "When you're in my situation, No. 2 for most of the season, you try to do it in training and I got the chance to try to do it in the game. I want to make his decision difficult. But no matter what he decides, I am sure it's the right decision. I will be behind it 100%."