TFC wins thriller over Whitecaps

Toronto FC midfielder Terry Dunfield reacts after scoring the game-wining goal against the...

Toronto FC midfielder Terry Dunfield reacts after scoring the game-wining goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps at BMO Field in Toronto, Ont., July 11, 2012. (FRED THORNHILL/Reuters)

RICHARD MAUNTAH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:32 PM ET

TORONTO - There have been few highlights in this lost Major League Soccer season for Toronto FC. But Wednesday’s 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps will certainly be one of them.

Terry Dunfield’s header off a corner kick by Torsten Frings in the final seconds of injury time rescued Toronto FC from another great effort that could have gone horribly wrong.

The midweek match at BMO Field was filled with drama for the 19,824 that made the trip — missed opportunities, an early second-half deficit, a blown lead early in injury time, and a hero to save the day.

“I didn’t think we played that well,” TFC head coach Paul Mariner said. “It was a bit of rustiness from our travels. But the crowd were fantastic and we were able to put our best effort in the past 10 minutes.”

It seemed for the first hour of the match like they were not going to get a result from their western Canadian cousins. After an initial 20 minutes in which there were no real scoring opportunities or even sustained play in either half to speak of, the game started to pick up in the latter half of the period.

Camillo Sanvello had a header from close range off a corner which just went over the crossbar, and Camilo had a shot go right across the goal for the Whitecaps but it was TFC that had the best chances in the final minutes of the half. First, Ryan Johnson took a benevolent deflection off a defender and went on a breakaway but was saved by Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon. That was followed seconds later by a good shot by Julian de Guzman which was deflected for a corner.

Minutes later, Johnson was fed a superb pass by Luis Silva for another breakaway and while he beat Cannon on that occasion, he also found the right goal post. Silva himself had a good shot minutes earlier that he put high.

TFC also lost defender Jeremy Hall in the half when he sustained an injury on a play. His attempt to shake it off for a couple of minutes did not work.

Vancouver made the most out of their first real chance of the second half. In the 50th minute, a ball was fed from midfield to Darren Mattocks. His initial shot was saved by Milos Kocic but the rebound went to the side near the touchline where the Toronto goalkeeper was unable to get back into position before Mattocks slid the rebound from a difficult angle inside the far post to give the Whitecaps the lead.

TFC responded by taking the play to Vancouver over the next few minutes but were unable to threaten. In the 69th minute that changed. Ashtone Morgan, stationed on the left side of the box, slipped a pass to Silva who deflected the movement of the ball off the side of his foot just enough to find the right corner of the net to tie the game. TFC earned a free kick a few minutes later and while that didn’t result in anything, they were eventually rewarded for their sustained period in the Vancouver zone. In the 72nd minute, Eric Avila took a long shot at goal which was deflected by Cannon 30 yards to Frings who drilled his shot into the left side of the net to give TFC the lead.

For the next few minutes it looked like they were actually going to hold the lead. But in the 85th minute, Lee Young-Pyo’s shot hit the post and there was a sense that trouble was brewing.

Then in the first minute of injury time, Jordan Harvey sent a cross to the box where Mattocks took a long pass and outjumped Henry and Kocic to head the ball into the net.

But instead of resigning themselves to another blown lead and another draw, TFC continued to push forward and eventually won the corner that led to Dunfield’s heroics. The result was pleasing for coach Mariner.

“The players have worked so hard,” he said. “They have done absolutely everything I have asked them.”

“When we started on this journey, we wanted to put some pride back into the shirt. And we want our fans to go home with a good feeling because they’re intelligent enough to know we’re running on fumes a little bit. But our second and third and fourth and fifth effort was heartwarming.”

Toronto FC will continue that journey with a trip to Foxboro, Mass. for a Saturday encounter with the New England Revolution.

ROSTER MOVES

Nick Soolsma has left Toronto FC after his contract was terminated by mutual consent. The 24-year-old had three goals and seven assists in 32 league games with the Reds.

The club also announced Wednesday that Joao Plata has been loaned to Ecuadorian club LDU Quito and Plata for six months. He is expected to return to Toronto for the 2013 MLS season.


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