Written and Photographs by Steve Dormer
MARCH 9, 2013 – It was difficult to feel optimistic covering the Toronto FC and their chances for a victory at the Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon. It has been 15 games since they won a match, stretching back to the middle of last summer. A long 15 games of disappointing blown leads, defensive errors, and the lack of any striker scoring goals. Today’s game must have been a weight lifted off the shoulders of everyone in the organization from top to bottom. A 2-1 victory over Kansas City will help ease the shoulder strain for a little while.
There have been a lot of changes at TFC including new manager from the English Premier league team Queens Park Rangers, New Zealander Ryan Nelson. Nelson looked pleased during the Canadian anthem listening to the TFC faithful singing in unison strongly behind him. It didn’t take long for Nelson to see why the Toronto crowd is the best in the MLS.
Newcomer Robert Earnshaw didn’t take long to get the crowd off their feet as he took advantage of an errant back pass and slipping the ball past keeper Jimmy Nelson, making it 1-0 in the 3rd minute of the game. The crowd erupted in delight as Earnshaw finished his goal with his traditional backflip and samba dance. TFC hasn’t seen a striker pounce on a ball that fast in years.
TFC looked great in the first half, taking much of the possession and making the KC players chase the ball. John Bostock charged into the box and Paulo Nagamura took him down for the penalty. Earnshaw stepped up and slotted the ball home with keeper Nelson going the wrong-way after Earnshaw did a Balotelli like stutter step to make it 2-0. TFC held on going into half time and left the field looking like the much better team.
The 2nd half was typical TFC of the last few years, sitting back and letting the opposition take it to them. You could sense it in the crowds emotion as if another ‘here we go again’ moment. It was just that as KC’s Claudio Bieler silenced the crowd in the 77th minute with a great goal making the score 2-1. Could this be another blown lead late in the game as we have been accustomed to with TFC games? The crowd had a feeling the worst was yet to come.
TFC rarely threatened at all after the goal and chose to defend. KC outshot Toronto 12-1 in the 2nd half because of their fear of attacking, happy to defend attitude. TFC held on through the KC pressure and a few corners but were all defended without problem. In the end, the defensive strategy paid off as TFC held on to a 2-1 victory and a perfect start at home. Not a bad start after starting the 2012 campaign with 9- straight losses, a 1-1 start to 2013 doesn’t look that bad.
TFC’s next game is Saturday March 16 in Montreal against the 2-0 Montreal Impact.