May 6, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs Vancouver Whitecaps (from

TFC open Canadian Championship with win
Kevin Harmse scores game winner
05/07/2009 02:06 AMBy Mark Polishuk / Staff

TORONTO -- Canadian Kevin Harmse appropriately scored the winner for Toronto FC in a 1-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps in the opening match of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. Harmse, a native of Vancouver, connected with a header off of a Dwayne De Rosario cross just three minutes into the game. It was the only goal of a match dominated by an aggressive attack from the Reds that could have easily netted them two or three more goals.

The win gives Toronto the early edge in the three-team tournament that also includes the USL First Division's Montreal Impact, with the winner going on to the CONCACAF Champions League. TFC avenged a winless set of games against Whitecaps in last year's tournament that included a draw in British Columbia and a home defeat on Canada Day.

Perhaps with both an eye towards keeping regulars fresh and in adding some Canadian content to this national championship, TFC interim head coach Chris Cummins changed the Reds' starting XI after keeping a stable lineup through the previous three games. Canadians De Rosario, Harmse and Nana Attakora-Gyan started the game in place of Danny Dichio, Sam Cronin and Adrian Serioux (also Canadian), respectively.

It took just three minutes for the new lineup to pay dividends. After an Amado Guevara pass sprung De Rosario down the left side, De Rosario made a little shimmy move to give himself some space from a Whitecaps defender and send a cross towards the right side of the net. Harmse was on the spot to head the ball past goalkeeper Jay Nolly and give the Reds the early lead.

It was Harmse's first goal in any competition in more than two years, since he scored as a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 3-1 win over Chivas USA on April 28, 2007. It was also Harmse's first game starting in his natural midfield position since March 28 against Columbus, as the Canadian had been mainly used as a central defender on the Toronto back line.

The lead was nearly doubled a few minutes later when Chad Barrett was sprung after a long pass, but the striker's shot was stopped by Nolly. To make matters worse for the already under-pressure Whitecaps back line, defender Marco Reda had to leave the game after a hard collision with TFC center back Nana Attakora-Gyan on the left side of the Toronto penalty area. Reda, a member of the original TFC roster in 2007, was down for several minutes before leaving the field under his own power, and was replaced by Wes Knight.

Toronto kept pouring on the attack and recorded four shots on goal within the first 17 minutes. Two came in rapid succession -- after Nolly dove to block a bending Jim Brennan attempt, Attakora-Gyan pounced on the big rebound and delivered a shot that required another good save from the Whitecaps 'keeper.

Scarborough native De Rosario, playing in his first Canadian Championship game, was the key figure for Toronto in the first half. De Rosario wreaked all manner of havoc on the left side, both making passes and looking for shots of his own.

In the 26th minute, De Rosario was on the spot in the penalty area when a Whitecaps defender fell down while trying to take a back pass, leaving De Rosario alone just a few feet in front of the Vancouver net. The TFC striker was so close to the goal, however, that he didn't have a good angle from which to shoot, and his attempt was easily stopped.

As the second half began, Toronto nearly struck again with another early goal. Marvell Wynne sent a long pass through to Barrett that the forward was able to collect while staying onside. Barrett found just a bit of space for a partial breakaway, but Nolly was in place to stop the shot.

Barrett again figured into a scoring chance in the 55th minute, as he fought for possession down the right side under solid pressure from Whitecaps' Hason Trafford and Vincente Arze. Barrett managed to evade both men and fire a cross right to a charging De Rosario, who headed the ball just barely to the right of the net. The goal would not have counted, however, since De Rosario ended up being booked on the play for a handball during his attempt at the ball.

Though Whitecaps showed some signs of life in the first few minutes of the second half, most notably on a passing play in the 50th minute that was broken up near the net by Attakora-Gyan, TFC still held the clear attacking edge in spite of not being able to add to their lead. In the 64th minute, Jim Brennan had a promising cross down the left side broken up before it could reach two Reds in front of the net.

On the ensuing corner kick, Guevara sent a wobbly effort well out of the penalty area, but De Rosario was able to collect the ball, evade a defender and manage a hard shot that went high of the net.

Continuing their strong play in the second half, De Rosario and Barrett connected again, this time on an attempt that wasn't marred by a booking. De Rosario weaved his way through two Whitecaps defenders and sent a pass through to Barrett on the left side. The striker fought off his marker and managed a shot that required a falling save from Nolly.

Both sides began to use substitutions late in the second half, TFC in an attempt to create the right formation for that insurance goal, and Vancouver just looking to create any sort of momentum in an overall one-sided half of soccer. Toronto had Barrett and Pablo Vitti come out for strikers Danny Dichio and Fuad Ibrahim, respectively, while Whitecaps shook up their midfield by inserting Takashi Hirano and Ethan Gage for Justin Moose and Ansu Toure.

After a mostly dormant half, Whitecaps almost stole a point from the match with a great chance from Marlon James in the 85th minute. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines international broke free of two markers and charged into the right side of the TFC penalty area. James' quick shot knocked down Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei, but the rookie 'keeper held his ground and made the big save to preserve the victory for his side and pick up his third clean sheet in his last four games.

TFC travels to Washington for a league game with D.C. United on Saturday night, and then host Montreal in the next Nutrilite Canadian Championship match next Wednesday at BMO Field. Vancouver next plays in the Canadian Championship when they travel to Saputo Stadium in Montreal for a date with the Impact on May 20.

Vancouver Whitecaps (0-1-0) vs. Toronto FC (1-0-0) 
May 06, 2009 -- BMO Field 

Scoring Summary: 
TOR -- Kevin Harmse 1 (Dwayne De Rosario 1, Amado Guevara 1) 3

Vancouver Whitecaps -- Jay Nolly, Hason Trafford, Jeff Parke, Marco Reda (Wes Knight 14), Wesley Charles, 
Martin Nash, Vincente Arze, Ansu Toure (Ethan Gage 76), Justin Moose (Takashi Hirano 66), Marlon James, 
Charles Gbeke.

Substitutes Not Used: Gordon Chin, Marcus Haber, Diego Oliveira, Justin Thompson

Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Marvell Wynne, Nana Attakora-Gyan, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, Amado Guevara, 
Carl Robinson, Kevin Harmse, Pablo Vitti (Fuad Ibrahim 78), Chad Barrett (Danny Dichio 73), Dwayne De Rosario.

Substitutes Not Used: Sam Cronin, Emmanuel Gomez, Rohan Ricketts, Johann Smith, Greg Sutton

 	Toronto FC 			Vancouver Whitecaps 
total shots: 12 (3 tied with 3)  	7 (Vincente Arze 3)  
shots on goal: 9 (Chad Barrett 3)  	2 (Justin Moose 1,  Marlon James 1)  
fouls: 11 (Kevin Harmse 3)  		15 (Charles Gbeke 3,  Marlon James 3)  
offsides: 5 (Danny Dichio 2)  		4 (Marlon James 3)  
corner kicks: 6 (Amado Guevara 6)  	2 (Martin Nash 2)  
saves: 2 (Stefan Frei 2)  		8 (Jay Nolly 8)  

Misconduct Summary: 
VAN -- Charles Gbeke (caution; Reckless Foul) 25
VAN -- Justin Moose (caution; Reckless Tackle) 49
TOR -- Dwayne De Rosario (caution; Handball) 56
VAN -- Wesley Charles (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 63
TOR -- Kevin Harmse (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 63
TOR -- Danny Dichio (caution; Reckless Foul) 93+

referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Hector Vergara; Daniel Belleau
4th official: Dave Gantar
time of game: 1:53
attendance: 16,011
weather: Cloudy -and- 59 degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial 

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