October 7, 2007 MLS Colorado Rapids vs Toronto FC (from MLSnet.com)

10/07/2007 10:37PM
Toronto FC unable to play spoiler
By Geoffrey Urland / MLSnet.com Staff

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- In a game where it was sometimes hard to tell which team was fighting for their playoff lives and which team was playing only for pride, Toronto FC was unable to play the role of spoiler. The Colorado Rapids, behind a Jovan Kirovski penalty kick, defeated Toronto FC 1-0 on a cold Sunday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Toronto FC was unable to take advantage of being a man up for most of the match, taking their first shot more than two-thirds of the way through the game.

The Rapids seemed determined to emerge with the victory, pressing the attack at every opportunity and creating opportunities with creative passing combinations. Their first good chance occurred in the 10th minute, as Brandon Prideaux received a ball from Conor Casey along the left touchline. Prideaux played a short cross to Mehdi Ballouchy, whose hard shot was just turned around the post by Toronto 'keeper Kenny Stamatopoulos.

Toronto seemed to weather the early storm, and began to make coherent attacks of their own, relying on their team speed and quick counterattacks to try and break down the Rapids defense. A free kick in the 16th minute, earned when Pablo Mastroeni received a yellow card for tripping Marvell Wynne, looked to be dangerous, but Colorado 'keeper Bouna Coundoul did an excellent job of flying off of his line to punch the ball out of trouble.

The middle of the first half saw each team's offense flounder to create any meaningful chances, with most play occurring frantically in the midfield. Toronto FC finally got something going in the 30th minute, as Marvell Wynne dribbled around a defender, slipped, got up, dribbled around another defender, and unleashed a low, hard cross that was just out of reach of a diving Collin Samuel.

The game took on a different tenor when Ballouchy made a studs-up tackle in the 36th minute, catching Toronto captain Carl Robinson hard on the knee and sending him crashing to the turf. Referee Kevin Stott wasted no time in pulling the red card out of his pocket and leaving the Rapids down a man.

The Rapids took the lead in the 44th minute on a Jovan Kirovski penalty kick. On a corner kick, Facundo Erpen was wrestled to the ground by Chris Pozniak, drawing the penalty. Kirovski calmly blasted the ball past Stamotopoulos into the upper corner of the net for his fourth penalty kick goal (and sixth overall) this season.

The second half began as the first half ended; lots of sound and fury in the midfield with nothing to show for it. Toronto began to shift their tactics to a more possession oriented passing approach, trying to take advantage of being a man up, while Colorado continued to pass and attack almost exclusively on the flanks.

Second-half substitute Miguel Canizalez created some flair for Toronto in the 50th minute, doing some creative dribbling along the right flank that led to a hard cross to the top of the goal box. Coundoul again read the cross perfectly, leaping high into the path of the ball to punch it away.

The Rapids almost extended their lead in the 63rd minute. Substitute Omar Cummings raced down the sideline, sending a skipping cross to the top of the box where Kirovski was lurking. Kirovski's half-volley, however, was saved by Stamatopoulos with a wonderful kick save.

Marvell Wynne, in the 66th minute, took Toronto's first shot of the game, an effort from 20 yards that went well wide of the post.

Toronto, toward the end of the game, tried to press the attack more and take advantage of the defensive shell Colorado was adapting to kill the game off. Canizalez continued to show glimpses of good attacking soccer for Toronto. In the 77th minute, he used his speed to beat defender Kosuke Kimura to the ball and send a hard shot from the corner of the penalty box that Coundoul parried.

Coundoul again showed off his leaping abilities in the 78th minute, punching away a Marco Reda cross that looked destined for one of three Toronto players in the box.

Toronto had another chance in the 85th minute, with Canizalez attempting to find the head of one of his teammates from a 30-yard free kick, but he placed the ball too far and Coundoul was able to grab it with ease.

The Rapids tried to make things interesting for the last few minutes, as Mastroeni earned his second yellow card and a send off in the 88th minute for dragging down Todd Dunivant from behind. On the subsequent free kick, Coundoul made another sparkling save, pushing Tyler Hemming's laser from distance up and over the bar.

The result means that Colorado maintains within striking distance of the final playoff spot, while Toronto was unable to build on their positive result against New York earlier in the week. TFC will try to regroup in a week when they visit the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second to last game of their inaugural season in a game that will again have huge playoff implications for the hosts.

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

Toronto FC (6-16-6) vs. Colorado Rapids (8-12-8) 
October 07, 2007 -- Dick's Sporting Goods Park 

Scoring Summary: 
COL -- Jovan Kirovski 6 (penalty kick) 44

Toronto FC -- Kenny Stamatopoulos, Adam Braz (Tyler Hemming 46), Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, 
Chris Pozniak (Joey Melo 63), Maurice Edu, Carl Robinson, Marvell Wynne, Gabe Gala (Miguel Canizalez 46), 
Jeff Cunningham, Collin Samuel, 

Substitutes Not Used: Srdjan Djekanovic, David Guzman, Andrea Lombardo, Marco Reda

Colorado Rapids -- Bouna Coundoul, Kosuke Kimura, Facundo Erpen, Mike Petke, Brandon Prideaux, Terry Cooke, 
Mehdi Ballouchy, Pablo Mastroeni, Colin Clark, Conor Casey (Omar Cummings 57) (Stephen Keel 92+), Jovan Kirovski, 

Substitutes Not Used: Jose Cancela, Nicolas Hernandez, Daniel Osorno, Jacob Peterson, Zach Thornton

 Colorado Rapids Toronto FC 
total shots: 7 (Jovan Kirovski 2)  5 (5 tied with 1)  
shots on goal: 5 (Jovan Kirovski 2)  3 (3 tied with 1)  
fouls: 17 (Pablo Mastroeni 7)  8 (Jeff Cunningham 2,
 Maurice Edu 2)  
offsides: 3 (Conor Casey 2)  1 (Miguel Canizalez 1)  
corner kicks: 2 (Terry Cooke 2)  2 (Todd Dunivant 1,
 Joey Melo 1)  
saves: 3 (Bouna Coundoul 3)  4 (Kenny Stamatopoulos 4)  

Misconduct Summary: 
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (caution; Professional Foul) 17
TOR -- Adam Braz (caution; Reckless Foul) 27
COL -- Mehdi Ballouchy (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 36
TOR -- Carl Robinson (caution; Reckless Foul) 85
COL -- Pablo Mastroeni (ejection; Second Caution) 88

referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar; Jose Corro
4th official: Ben Chouaf
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 10,832
weather: Showers -and- 46 degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial 

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