April 29, 2007 Toronto FC lose home opener to Kansas City 1-0 (from Toronto Star)

Thunder but no lightning
Tony Bock / Toronto Star

A ferocious aerial battle for the ball erupts during April 16's first game at BMO Field where Toronto FC, clad in red, suffered a 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards. More than 20,000 fans showed up for TFC's home opener in Major League Soccer.


Toronto FC (0-4-0)
Greg Sutton, Andrew Boyens, Jim Brennan C, Marvell Wynne, Kevin Goldthwaite, Maurice Edu, Paulo Nagamura (Edson Buddle 84), Carl Robinson, Andy Welsh (Miguel Canizalez 67), Danny Dichio, Alecko Eskandarian.
Subs not used: Ronnie O'Brien, Andrea Lombardo, Chris Pozniak, Marco Reda

Kevin Hartman, Jose Burciaga Jr., Jimmy Conrad C, Nick Garcia, Jack Jewsbury, Carlos Marinelli (Ryan Pore 16, Kurt Morsink 90), Michael Harrington, Sasha Victorine, Kerry Zavagnin, Davy Arnaud, Eddie Johnson.
Subs not used: Aaron Hohlbein, Will John, Ryan Raybould, Lance Watson

K.C.: Eddie Johnson 3 (Michael Harrington) 81'

Mauricio Navarro
Amato DeLuca, Hector Vergara
Abiodun Okulaja

Give us your very best TFC chant Toronto's MLS team has a name, a jersey and a new home.Loud crowd does its best to spur on Toronto FC in its home opener, but club still can't hit the scoresheet

Apr 29, 2007 04:30 AM

As Toronto FC and the Kansas City Wizards walked onto the pitch at BMO Field for pre-game introductions yesterday, more than 20,000 spectators let loose a roar so loud the entire stadium vibrated.

One man seated just below the press box cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted his own special message to the home team: "Score some goals!"

In a stadium packed with loud, loyal fans, Toronto came close but still hasn't scored the franchise's first goal.

A late goal by Kansas City's Eddie Johnson handed Toronto its fourth consecutive loss and TFC is the only team in Major League Soccer that has not scored this season.

The 1-0 shutout marked the second MLS record Toronto has set in its inaugural season. No other MLS team has sold more season tickets than Toronto's 14,500 and the 360-minute scoring drought is the longest ever to start a season.

Unlike their previous two games, which TFC lost by a combined score of 7-0, Toronto held the momentum for most of the first half, nearly scoring several times. Head coach Mo Johnston said the fan support and promising first half made Kansas City's goal, scored in the 81st minute, that much more bitter.

"I was pleased with the 90 minutes we put on. I was not pleased with the result," Johnston said. "For the first time in a long time I had goosebumps before the game. I feel bad sending (the fans) home with a 1-0 loss."

Toronto's first draft pick, midfielder Maurice Edu, nearly became the franchise's first scorer in the opening half, but his drive dribbled just wide of the net. Half an hour into the game, midfielder Andy Walsh's line-drive volley was blocked by Kansas City goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. After both near misses, the crowd applauded, grateful for a taste of offence from a club that has had few scoring chances since its opening game three weeks ago.

But the strong start and loud fans couldn't stop Toronto from sagging in the second half.

"We took our foot off the gas a bit," forward Alecko Eskandarian said. "The first half was brilliant. I felt like they were scared. Just hearing them yelling at each other I thought we had them on their heels. That's why it's so tough to take this loss."

Eskandarian took the loss harder than the spectators, who, after the final whistle, stood and applauded Toronto FC's effort.

Johnston said the home crowd, which numbered 20,148, was the closest he's seen to a European-style crowd since he came to MLS in 1996. "(Kansas City) is experiencing something they're not going to experience all season," he said. "These fans will be the best in the MLS."

Ten minutes after kickoff, the fans seated beneath the press box had already loudly, proudly and repeatedly broken BMO Field's no swearing and no smoking rules. The supporters club members who filled end-zone seats chanted Danny Dichio's name each time the rugged forward knocked down a Kansas City player.

Johnson drifted too close to the sideline while celebrating his goal, a spectator in the front row showered him with beer in a stadium where import brews cost $9.25.

"It was crazy," Edu said. "From warmups to the end whistle they were non-stop. They showed their dedication. It was the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of. It was amazing."

Johnston remains optimistic and hopes the fans will have more to cheer for at Toronto's next game, May 12 at home against the Chicago Fire. He might sign a new player before then and he's sure midfield playmaker Ronnie O'Brien will play that day.

O'Brien strained a ligament in his right knee before the first game of the season and hasn't played since. Johnston says he could have played yesterday but it wasn't worth risking another injury.

"If Ronnie had done his knee again I would have been kicking myself," Johnston said. "Now he's got 13, 14 days."

Toronto will resume practising tomorrow.

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