Toronto FC rolling at home

RYAN WOLSTAT, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Toronto FC is rolling like never before.

The Reds soundly outplayed the New England Revolution at surprisingly sunny BMO Field Saturday, earning a 1-0 victory.

In its fourth season of existence, TFC seems to finally have found its form — particularly at home.

Toronto is now 4-0-0 in MLS play (5-0-0 overall) on its new grass and is unbeaten in five matches after earning 0-0 draws in Los Angeles and Vancouver last week.

The club is now just two points back of second place in the East and an automatic playoff berth.

Stefan Frei was the man of the match with his second clean sheet in a row and Chad Barrett’s 53rd minute strike held up.

Just a minute in, Barrett found himself all alone on New England’s Preston Burpo for the first of a number of excellent chances. But Barrett blasted a shot off the keeper’s head, preventing what would have been the quickest goal in TFC history. Nine minutes later, Frei made a similarly spectacular stop off of his neck, putting a charge into the crowd of 20,672.

Barrett failed to convert on another chance in the 14th minute, when midfielder Jacob Peterson put him in the clear.

Toronto had the better opportunities in the first half — outshooting the Revs 6-3 — but Burpo and a lack of finish kept them off the board.

“I definitely gave some chances away, I scored one but I could have had three,” Barrett said.

New England managed three corner kicks to TFC’s zero in the first 45 minutes, but could not create anything dangerous off of them.

The Reds finally got a corner in the 53rd minute and Sam Cronin’s looping kick was headed in by Barrett. Following his third goal of the MLS season, the relieved Barrett let out a yell and pumped his fists.

About a minute later, Frei dove to make his first tough save in ages. He was not overly tested throughout, but stepped up when needed, including in the 90th minute when he punched out a corner kick.

“He makes the important saves for us,” TFC head coach Preki said.

Already missing captain Dwayne De Rosario due to a national team commitment, TFC also was without top defender Nana Attakora, who sat due to a hip flexor. Midfielder Julan de Guzman was a no-go thanks to a hamstring injury and striker O’Brian White started the game on the bench after suffering a knock Wednesday in Vancouver but came on for the final 45 minutes.

Nick Garcia replaced Attakora and wore De Rosario’s captain’s armband, while Fuad Ibrahim and Peterson got rare starts.

Preki was proud of the effort, though he admitted it wasn’t the most exciting game ever played.

“At the end of the day, the effort was top class and that’s why we got the result,” said the former MLS coach of the year. “I would rather win ugly than lose pretty.”

While TFC was without three of its top players, New England was buoyed by the return of 2009 MLS MVP runner-up Shalrie Joseph from rehab. Joseph had not suited up for the club since it beat Toronto 4-1 in the second game of the season. Preki was unhappy the league did not let him know in advance that Joseph was back in action, while Frei said he hasn’t seen Joseph fail to bury three good chances like the ones he had in the second half.

But that’s the way the bounces have gone at home this season for TFC.

“I don’t know if it is the grass or what, but we’ll take whatever it is,” White said.

The Reds now get a full week off and should have a much more potent lineup Saturday in San Jose.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos