TFC hoist the Cup, finally

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:16 AM ET

TORONTO - Toronto FC showed off some hardware to its fans at BMO Field Wednesday.

Finally.

After three often dismal campaigns, TFC has finally righted itself in Year 4.

Sure, the Reds pounded the Montreal Impact 6-1 in La Belle Provence last season to clinch its first Nutrilite Canadian Championship, but this was the first time Toronto could wave a trophy — a second Voyageurs Cup in a row — in front of its loyal backers.

The club is finally growing up. Its performance in MLS League play — four in a row without a loss (5-4-1 record overall) — has been solid and coming into its game Wednesday against the Vancouver Whitecaps home and cooled out, with the Canadian title already in the bag, is also a laudable sign of progress.

For the record, TFC and Vancouver played to a 0-0 draw.

The next challenge is to make a mark in the CONCACAF Champions League, starting against Honduran side Motagua. In these heady days, anything seems possible.

The players clearly are buying whatever it is first-year head coach Preki is selling.

Unblemished and even at times deadly at home, the club also has come around on the road. A tie against the league-leading L.A. Galaxy last month increased the confidence level and a stunning 3-1 win against then-second place San Jose on the West Coast followed.

The confidence and skill was not on full display Wednesday for the Reds as Preki altered the lineup significantly.

Milos Kocic made his TFC debut in goal and made a brilliant first half save on Phillipe Davies seconds before injury time. Brought up from TFC Academy and inserted into the starting lineup were defender Doneil Henry and forward Allando Matheson, while Nicholas Lindsay subbed in for Julian de Guzman to start the second half.

Most of Toronto’s usual starters were not in uniform, while captain Dwayne De Rosario watched from the bench until coming on for Matheson in the 67th minute.

Even Preki himself was not on the pitch, leaving on-field coaching duties to assistant Leo Percovich.

TFC rarely challenged Vancouver’s Jay Nolly, though Fuad Ibrahim made a good attempt in the 87th minute that Nolly turned aside.

The newcomers did not stand out, nor was Kocic overly tested.

Though the game was a meaningless affair for the Reds (3-0-1 in the tourney), the Whitecaps (0-0-4) obviously felt differently. Vancouver will join MLS next season and came in wanting to show it will not be a pushover.

Vancouver was aggressive throughout — Reds defender Joseph Nane was drilled and ended up dislocating his right shoulder in the third minute and later, Vancouver’s top player, Marcus Harber was booted from the proceedings after a clumsy two-footed challenge.

Far more dangerous tackles have been excused by referees during MLS and Nutrilite play this season, but Harber lunged menacingly at Henry on the 33rd minute play and that likely prompted his sending off.

A man short, the Whitecaps battled gamely the rest of the way, refusing to allow TFC to convincingly take control.

A torrential rain mucked things up for both sides early, giving BMO Field’s new grass its toughest test of the season, but the rain eventually tapered off.

Though the action on the pitch was nothing special, the 15,166 in attendance were in a celebratory mood.

And why not? With the rate this city’s sporting heroes have been going the past few years, it might be a while before Toronto fans can next fete a champion.


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