March 19, 2011 MLS--Reds Suffer Rough Opener (from

Reds Suffer Rough Opener
Asif Hossain
Vancouver, BC Empire Field - March 19, 2011 Defining Moment

To borrow an infamous phrase from first half at the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, it was "game well and truly over" when Vancouver Whitecaps FC struck the third goal in their 4-2 victory over Toronto FC in the first match of the 2011 Major League Soccer season.

Down 2-1 at half, Toronto had the opportunity to create a stir at the restart. However, conceding one corner after another the Reds were finally made to pay when Ontario-native Russell Teibert delivered a ball that took a deflection before falling straight to Atiba Harris. The forward popped the ball past Frei to make it 3-1. The teams exchanged a pair of goals after that, allowing Vancouver to take the maximum points in their first ever MLS match winning 4-2.

Pitch Battles
Feeding off the collective emotion of over 22,000 fans welcoming Vancouver into MLS in their inagural match, VWFC asked the right questions of the Toronto defence, getting effective results.

Vancouver midfielder Davide Chiumiento punched a few holes in the Toronto backline in the first half which led to great chances. The Swiss winger played a role in the first two goals in Whitecaps' MLS history finished by Eric Hassli and Vancouver-born Terry Dunfield respectively at the 15th and 26th minutes. The pressure applied by Vancouver on Toronto's defenders - as they looked to build from the back - often created turnovers leading to several heart-in-mouth moments for Reds' supporters.

Man of the Match
Stefan Frei stood out for TFC as he needed to be first to the ball during many Vancouver set-piece opportunities. When the Reds were down 3-1, the Swiss keeper charged out and cut down the angle to make a save on Atiba Harris on a breakaway. Although shots were only slightly in the Whitecaps favour (16-13), Frei was bombarded at his end by a more sustained offensive pressure.

Chiumiento was making his case for Vancouver's MOTM until he was substituted at half. The Caps had many heroes on their historic night, though Hassli with his two goals and Teibert in an all-action performance make strong arguments for the men in white.

Starting XI
Vancouver - Jay Nolly, Jonathan Leathers, Michael Boxall, Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat, Gershon Koffie, Davide Chiumiento (Nizar Khalfan 46), 
Terry Dunfield, Russell Teibert (Wes Knight 69), Atiba Harris, Eric Hassli (Camilo 83) 
... Substitutes Not Used: Jeb Brovsky, Greg Janicki, Long Tan, Joe Cannon.
Goals: Hassli 15' 72' Dunfield 26' Harris 63' 
... Yellow Cards: Dunfield 28' Harris 40' Hassli 49'

Toronto - Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Nana Attakora, Ty Harden, Adrian Cann, Nathan Sturgis (Gianluca Zavarise 69), Dwayne De Rosario, Jacob Peterson 
(Mikael Yourassowsky 71), Nick Soolsma (Keith Makubuya 46), Maicon Santos, Javier Martina 
... Substitutes Not Used: Oscar Cordon, Matt Gold, Ashtone Morgan, Milos Kocic.
Goals: De Rosario 20' Maicon 74' 
... Yellow Cards: Sturgis 32' Gargan 44'
Following Fixture 
BMO Field 2 p.m.
Radio: The FAN 590

The new-look 2011 Toronto FC will make its BMO Field debut on Saturday, March 26 at 2 p.m. against the Portland Timbers who lost 3-1 to MLS Cup champion Colorado in their opening match. Toronto always gives its Reds a warm welcome in the opening home fixture, though the loss to Vancouver may cause some restlessness in the stands should TFC struggle against another expansion team.

Post Game Toronto head coach and technical director Aron Winter has stressed the importance of a possession oriented system. He will be pleased with Toronto's ability to hold the ball (63%-37% in the first half), though he was the first to admit that the Reds gifted the opposition their goals. Turnovers often led to Vancouver corners - they had 12 of them in total to just one for Toronto in second half added time. Vancouver committed the bulk of fouls in this match 12-5. Their physical play contrasting the European passing game instructed by Toronto's Dutch coach.

De Rosario made MLS history with his goal, it was the 8000th strike in league history. In another positive note for TFC, Maicon's blast for Toronto in their second goal will likely make the rounds for goal of the week.

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