March 21, 2009 Kansas City vs Toronto FC (from MLSnet.com)
Opening win a breakthrough for TFC
Road victory represents first-ever season-opening win for third-year club
03/22/2009 03:45 AM
By Bob Rusert / MLSnet.com Staff
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A new day for Toronto FC has been signaled. Saturday's 3-2 win at Kansas City was the third-year club's first win in a season opener and one of only five away wins in its brief history.
"You can tell by the smile on my face I'm absolutely delighted," said TFC head coach John Carver. "Our away record last season wasn't great, and it was important we came into the first game of the season and got something from it. I'm delighted with the three points, delighted with the performance."
The Reds displayed a complete side -- a potent and opportune attack and a stingy defense, despite two spectacular strikes from Wizards midfielder Davy Arnaud.
"We'll certainly be involved in goal of the week, if not goal of the season," quipped Carver.
But perhaps most importantly Carver's men revealed a steely character, holding onto a lead despite a resounding effort by the home side to even the match.
"The lads are really high. I said to them there's a long way to go," Carver said. "They set a standard, a real high standard. But we conceded a lot of late goals last year. But we dug in and showed some resolve in there."
The character showed early, fittingly in the form of captain Jim Brennan. After Toronto had failed to convert three early chances, Brennan caught the K.C. defense up field and played a give-and-go with forward Dwayne De Rosario that began just on TFC's side of the half.
"It was a great run. It made my job a lot easier," said De Rosario of Brennan's gallant run down the left wing. "I heard him from pretty much the halfway line running. It was just a matter of time before I played it to him. It was a great finish."
Brennan drove his shot between Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and the near post in the 33rd minute to give the Reds the lead.
But from there, Honduran international midfielder Amado Guevara would be the man. As his side held onto a tentative one-goal lead while absorbing increasing pressure from Kansas City's motivated attack, Guevara took an opportunity in the 53rd minute.
Fourteen yards out to the left of K.C.'s goal, Guevara took a pass from Carl Robinson, spun in front of his defender and perfectly placed a shot inside the far corner to give his side a two-goal cushion.
"I'm very happy for the team, first of all," through an interpreter. "Everything was good; I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Arnaud brought Kansas City near with a 25-yard blast into the upper left corner in the 55th minute, but Guevara wouldn't let his side get rattled, restoring the two-goal lead seven minutes later, knocking home the rebound of a De Rosario shot that Hartman had blocked.
"I wish [Guevara] wasn't going away next week with the Honduran national team," said Carver of his prized midfielder. "He's very technical; he's a clever player. I wanted him to play higher up the field today, because when we came here last year, he played too deep, and they gave us all sorts of problems. He's going to be more effective in that final third. Now he has guys to play with and combine with."
And that guy, tonight and likely for the balance of the season, was Canadian native De Rosario. The former San Jose and Houston star joined TFC in the offseason via trade. The 30-year-old had a foot in two of the Reds goals in his TFC debut.
"It's a proud moment for me. I knew that I was going to play for this team. I didn't know when, and the time has come," said De Rosario. "A great group of guys, a great organization, and, most importantly, I'm really happy we got the result we came here to get."
Added Carver: "De Ro missed the penalty; he's a little bit disappointed in that, but he was outstanding in the game."
For cohort Guevara, it's not just De Rosario's talent that makes him a valuable addition to the squad.
"He's very important, very contagious," said Guevara. "He wins the balls, does what he has to do, and it reflects in the team."
To captain Brennan, who has been with Toronto from the beginning, the night showed him much to be happy about.
"We worked hard. We had a game plan. We stuck by it, and we scored goals. That's why we'll be dangerous this year," he said. "We have a good attacking side and [takes] a bit of pressure off the defense."
As the phrase "hard work" sprinkled Brennan and Carver's comments, Brennan summed up the signals of a new TFC.
"It's night and day from the first game we ever played until now. The squad is strong. We have good depth now, and we have guys here who want to win," he said. "To win the first game is something that we wanted to do ... to get the three points was great for us."
"It's very motivating to get the win," said Guevara. "Everything that starts off good ends up good."
Bob Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com.
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