April 28, 2007 MLS Toronto FC lose to Kansas City Wizards 1-0 (from MLSnet.com)

04/28/2007 5:36PM
K.C.'s Johnson happy to play spoiler role
By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staff

TORONTO -- Eddie Johnson didn't mind reveling in his role as Toronto's latest sporting villain. "I'm thrilled," he laughed. "I'm overwhelmed. New stadium, first game, first goal ... I'm glad to be in that category."

The Kansas City Wizards forward was the rain on the parade of Toronto FC's inaugural game at BMO Field. The sellout crowd was raucous and loud all game long -- except for the few seconds after Johnson scored the game-winning goal in the 81st minute.

The goal was the result of a game-long outstanding effort from the forward. Johnson's point-blank strike in the 20th minute was stopped by TFC 'keeper Greg Sutton. In the 65th minute, Johnson found himself in the zone with Sutton out of position, but his shot was denied by a sliding TFC defender.

Despite these and one more stopped shot in the 76th minute, Johnson didn't get frustrated.

"I knew it was one of those games where you keep putting yourself in the spots and keep your focus for 90 minutes, the chances will come," Johnson said. "I just kept putting myself in those spots and the next time I was a little more composed in the box."

His focus paid off when a deflection and a long curling pass from midfielder Michael Harrington gave Johnson another scoring chance in the 81st minute. This time he made no mistake, cutting back to avoid a tackle and expertly placing the ball inside the right post.

Wizards coach Curt Onalfo was pleased with his star striker's effort.

"[Johnson] persevered," Onalfo said. "We've told him all season long we want him to be aggressive, take players on, take risks and that's what he did today. To his credit, he didn't give up and he got himself a goal to win the game."

The goal was Johnson's second game-winner in as many games against Toronto FC, as he scored five minutes into the Wizards' 3-0 win against Toronto last Wednedsay in Kansas City. The striker is now tied with New England's Taylor Twellman with an MLS-leading three goals on the season.

The win gives Kansas City nine points and the lead in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards also lead all of Major League Soccer with nine goals scored on the season.

Johnson said this strong start has given his team a lot of confidence, which helped K.C. withstand a strong start from Toronto FC in the first half on Saturday. The striker pointed to a goalmouth block by defender Jack Jewsbury in the 32nd minute as the turning point in the match, when the Wizards right back slid across to deflect a shot from Andy Welsh seemingly headed toward an unguarded goal.

"That save alone gave us the confidence to go into halftime 0-0," Johnson said. "We came out in the second half with a better mentality.

"We've got a little streak going and when everyone's working hard for each other, when you do all of the little things, you kind of create that luck."

Johnson will now get to add one more line to his credentials: the first player to ever score at BMO Field. The forward is happy to be in Toronto's record books, and warned that future visiting teams may find goals harder to come by.

"Toronto is going to win a lot of games here," Johnson predicted. "It's tough to play here. The fans were ... pumped up from the opening whistle. They were a totally different team from Wednesday.

"1-0, 3-0, it doesn't matter," he added. "We got three points and we're happy."

Spoken like a true villain.

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

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