April 8, 2007 Chivas USA beat Toronto FC (from MLSnet.com) story 1

04/08/2007 02:47AM
Toronto FC lacking in 'simple things'
By Danny Bueno / MLSnet.com

CARSON, Calif. - It would be understandable for Toronto FC to feel a sense of anxiousness as they stepped onto the field at The Home Depot Center for their first ever MLS regular season match Saturday night against Chivas USA. The early jitters, though, were short lived.

Despite looking like a cohesive unit and demonstrating clear talent across the field for long stretches, however, Toronto FC were defeated 2-0 in their inaugural match.

"I felt in the first 10-15 minutes we were nervous but we settled down and created a bunch of chances but couldn't score," said Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston.

For long periods in the first half, Toronto FC controlled the pace of the match and were only kept off the scoreboard by several impressive saves by Chivas 'keeper Brad Guzan.

In a three-minute span early in the first half, Toronto FC peppered Guzan with three close-range shots from Edson Buddle and Paulo Nagamura. Guzan, however, met the challenge with three quality saves.

"At times we played well, we moved the ball well and we created problems for them," said Toronto FC captain Jim Brennan. "We had five chances in the first half, they had two chances and two goals."

The converted opportunities came on either side of halftime for Chivas. First, Ante Razov slipped a left-footed shot into an empty net from close range in the 35th minute after Toronto FC goalkeeper Greg Sutton left his line to make an attempt at stopping an oncoming Maykel Galindo. Then Sacha Kljestan sealed the victory for Chivas with a hard 20-yard shot in the 88th minute.

After mounting a strong first half, Toronto FC seemed to unravel in the last 45 minutes.

"In the second half, we didn't get anything going and the momentum was flipped over to Chivas," said Johnston. "We sat back too deep and went to the long ball too much, which I didn't want ... and we gave the ball away too much in the midfield and normally that's our strength."

Added Brennan: "We lost our shape in the second half and they had more possession which we found difficult" to overcome.

With only a handful of competitive matches under their collective belts, Toronto FC nevertheless felt confident about their chances entering the match. And despite the result, they remain confident in their ability.

"We weren't overly impressed or overmatched (by Chivas) by any means," said Sutton. "We need to do some of the simple things better, though, and we need to play together for 90 minutes."

Heading into the match, Toronto FC had to deal with several challenges including personnel changes and injuries. First, Ronnie O'Brien suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for more than a month and that was followed by Jose Cancela being traded away on Thursday.

These challenges only added to the difficulty of debuting as a team for the first time.

"We're still growing as a team and we have a few players out but when they get back we'll be better," said Johnston. "Obviously getting off to a good start, we'd have liked it to have been better but tonight it wasn't to be."

With the first match now in the past, Toronto FC looks ahead to the next game and continued improvement.

"We have good character here and we're going to progress as a team, gel and get better and better," said Brennan. "We're not coming here to lose games and come next week in New England, we're going to be looking to win."

Sutton was succinct in his view of the result. "It's going to take growing pains but hopefully there won't be a lot of them," he said.

Danny Bueno is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

back to Toronto FC menu