April 8, 2007 Chivas USA beat Toronto FC (from Globe and Mail)

POSTED ON: 08/04/07
Toronto FC falls short in inaugural game

Globe and Mail Update

Until last night, they had only a name, a uniform, a brand new stadium, and some surprisingly gaudy season's ticket numbers.

Now, Toronto FC has a face, a personality and, unfortunately, a record, following a 2-0 loss to Chivas USA in their inaugural Major League Soccer match Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.

Despite the scoreline, the performance of Mo Johnston's side didn't suggest that a season of expansion team awfulness lies ahead especially in the first half, when they were unlucky not to score the opening goal of the match, and played the talented home team on nearly even terms.

The only goal of the half came in the 35th minute, when a lovely through ball from Sacha Kjestan found Cuban striker Maykel Galindo as he split the Toronto backline. With a clear path to keeper Greg Sutton, Galindo dished the ball off to Ante Razov, who tucked it into the open net.

Before that, Toronto twice came close. On a set piece, Edson Buddle headed Carl Robinson's free kick at the feet of Chivas keeper Brad Guzan, forcing a touch save. A few minutes later, following a horrible turnover by one of his central defenders, Guzan bailed out his teammates, making back to back stops on Paulo Nagamura and Buddle.

Both teams played a positive, short-passing, up-tempo style, which seemed to please the sparse but noisy crowd of 14,351, including a smattering of flag-waving Canadians, most of them apparently drawn from the large expat community in the Los Angeles area. The Toronto team has some pace up front, in the form of Buddle and Alecko Eskandarian, which ought to make things interesting in their rookie campaign. And they also have some issues at the back which will mean that some of that attacking talent is going to have to come through to win some 3-2 and 4-3 games.

In the second half, Chivas took control of the action, carrying the play to Toronto, which was pinned in its own end for most of the 45 minutes and had difficulty mounting any kind of attack. The inevitable second goal came late, in the 87th minute, on a spectacular 30-yard strike by Kjesten that left Sutton with no chance.

Johnston wasn't claiming any moral victories after the match, or making any excuses for a lineup that has been in flux throughout training camp and pre-season, and has been riddled with injuries. (Toronto's starting eleven last night had never been together in that form even for an exhibition match).

Asked what had pleased him about his team's performance, Johnston said, "Not so much."

"The biggest key tonight is that we gave the ball away too much," he said. "There were five or six players who underachieved. I don't have to name them. They know who they are. They've been told."

Toronto FC's next game is April 14 at New England. They open the new BMO Field two weeks later against the Kansas City Wizards.

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