April 22, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs Chivas USA (from MLSnet.com)

Guevara Lifts Toronto FC Over Chivas
04/22/2009 09:55 PM
By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staff

TORONTO -- A first-half goal by Amado Guevara paved the way for Toronto FC's 1-0 victory against Chivas USA on Wednesday night at BMO Field. The win was the first of the season for TFC at BMO Field, and their first-ever victory against the Red-and-White after going 0-4 against the Western Conference side over the previous two seasons. Toronto also became the first team this season to defeat first-place Chivas, who entered the match atop the MLS overall table with a 4-0-1 record.

With Dwayne De Rosario out of action with a hamstring injury, the Reds' starting XI had a much different shape than it did last Sunday in Dallas. Danny Dichio made his first start of the season up front alongside Chad Barrett, while Marco Velez and Pablo Vitti stepped in for Kevin Harmse and Fuad Ibrahim, respectively.

Injury-plagued Chivas, who has thrived this season without the likes of Ante Razov, Maykel Galindo, and several other notable players, made just one change to the lineup that defeated Seattle 2-0 last Saturday. Midfielder Paulo Nagamura returned to the lineup after missing a game due to suspension, replacing Atiba Harris.

The opening minutes were largely uneventful, as both teams struggled to connect or collect on long passes. The only excitement in the early part of the match occurred in the 15th minute when Dichio took advantage of a falling Chivas defender and carried the ball into the penalty area, but a TFC corner kick that resulted from Dichio's rush proved to be fruitless.

Though TFC were unable to generate a shot, they slowly began to generate the more threatening attack as the first half progressed. Following a run up midfield from Marvell Wynne, midfielder Sam Cronin sent a pass that found Vitti with some space on the left side of the net. With just one defender and the 'keeper in front of him, Vitti couldn't control the ball and his footing at the same time as Chivas picked up the turnover.

The first shot of the match didn't occur until the 25th minute -- a harmless volley into the side of the Toronto net from Chivas striker Eduardo Lillingston. That was the only half-chance for the Red-and-White in the first half-hour of the match, as the Toronto defense did a good job of containing the Chivas side that entered the match tied for second in the league in goals scored with eight.

The Reds didn't achieve their first shot until the 36th minute, a high effort from Cronin, but their second shot a few moments later was a major one. From roughly 35 yards out, Dichio flicked the ball ahead to Guevara, who was struggling to find space while heading up the middle of the field towards the Red-and-White net.

The Honduran international showed his quality by keeping control of the ball while being challenged by two Chivas defenders, and fired it past 'keeper Zach Thornton to put Toronto on the scoresheet.

It was Guevara's team-leading third goal of the year and his first since scoring a brace against Kansas City in the season opener on March 21. The goal might have felt especially sweet for Guevara given the opposition, as Guevara had a brief and tumultuous four-game stint as a member of Chivas USA in 2007.

Toronto came close to extending their lead before the halftime break on a scoring chance that resembled an elongated version of Guevara's chance. This time it was striker Chad Barrett who took a long pass from past midfield and rushed up the field while fighting off two defenders. Barrett's shot, however, was blocked wide of the Red-and-White net.

Chivas coach Preki inserted Chukwudi Chijindu into the game for Lillington at the break in order to try and spur the Red-and-White attack, but it was Toronto who kept up the pressure early in the second half. TFC handily led the time of possession tally in the 10 minutes after halftime, but in spite of a number of promising crosses and three successive corner kicks from Guevara, the Reds couldn't turn any of this ball control into a quality scoring chance.

The Reds did manage to put together a shot in the 61st minute that nearly increased their lead. Guevara threaded a nicely aimed direct free kick that found Dichio on the left side of the net. The big forward headed the ball at the net, but Thornton stood his ground as the shot bounced off the 'keeper's chest.

As the second half progressed, the state of play reverted back to the quality of the early minutes, as both Toronto and Chivas had trouble connecting on passes and getting into a rhythm on attack. In TFC's case, this was partially intentional, as the team seemed to take more of a defensive posture in order to protect the lead.

The tactic was a successful one, as the Reds held Chivas to just one shot in the second half. Chivas was awarded one corner kick in stoppage time, but nothing came of the opportunity. It was Toronto's first shutout of the season and also the first career clean sheet for rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

TFC will play its third match in eight days when the Kansas City Wizards come to BMO Field on Sunday. Toronto defeated K.C. by a 3-2 margin in the season opener on March 21. Chivas USA also plays on the weekend, returning home to take on FC Dallas, a team they defeated 2-0 earlier this season.

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