March 26, 2011 MLS--Martina Magic Steals The Show (from

Martina Magic Steals The Show
Asif Hossain
BMO Field Toronto, ON
March 26, 2011

Defining Moment
The second of Dutch forward Javier Martina's two goals will stand out as one of the best in Toronto FC's young history and as an added bonus, it helped the Reds secure a 2-0 victory over Portland in its 2011 home opener at BMO Field.

Martina had already put Toronto ahead 1-0 at the 14th minute with a tidy finish for his first career Major League Soccer goal. At the 70th he all but sealed the first three points of the season for TFC when he attacked a Stefan Frei dropkick on a single bounce and buried a sublime volley past an outstretched Jake Gleeson. That strike made it 2-0 Toronto and warmed the hearts of 20,086 supporters who braved the -3°C temperature for a chance to welcome the Reds back for another season.

Pitch Battles
Local, visiting and MLS media had speculated about the prowess of Portland forward Kenny Cooper all week long. In his FC Dallas days the American striker tormented TFC with six goals in four games. Toronto head coach Aron Winter said his team would be prepared for any threat - be it Cooper or another player - and the clean sheet proved the Dutch boss was on the mark.

This match also witnessed Adrian Cann returning to the centre of the backline to replace an injured Nana Attakora. After playing out of position last week in the Vancouver loss, Cann admitted to being more comfortable in this preferred role. The Canadian international won all five of his aerial duels and had a game high 22 defensive clearances - far and away more than any other player on the pitch.

Man of the Match
In five seasons of Toronto football in MLS, Martina had arguably the best BMO Field debut of any player to date. He read the development inside the Portland box perfectly for his first strike and his second will easily be a goal of the week candidate. He made both of his shots count in this match and made four crosses from the right side atop the 4-3-3 system favoured by Toronto in the new Winter era. The 24-year old former Ajax player has made a tremendous first impression.

Not to be forgotten are goalkeeper Stefan Frei and attacker Maicon Santos. Frei made four saves while recording his first clean sheet of the season and his assist on the second Martina goal illustrated his ability to distribute the ball effectively when he sees an opportunity. Maicon meanwhile, continued to link up well with Dwayne De Rosario on this day playing behind the strikers. The Brazilian played the through ball to the Toronto captain before De Rosario left it for Martina to register his first goal.

Starting XI

Toronto - Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Adrian Cann, Ty Harden, Mikael Yourassowsky, Maicon Santos (Gianluca Zavarise 69'), 
Nathan Sturgis (Alen Stevanovic 46'), Jacob Peterson, Dwayne De Rosario, Alan Gordon, Javier Martina (Ashtone Morgan 87') 
... Subs Not Used: Milos Kocic, Doneil Henry, Oscar Cordon, Keith Makubuya ... Goals: Martina 14' 70' 
... Caution: Yourassowsky 56' 84' (leading to ejection), Gordon 71' Gargan 79'

Portland - Adin Brown (Jake Gleeson 46'), Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, Kevin Goldthwaite, Rodney Wallace, Ryan Pore (Sal Zizzo 66'), Peter Lowry, 
Jack Jewsbury, Jeremy Hall, Jorge Perlaza (Brian Umony 73'), Kenny Cooper 
... Subs Not Used: Kalif Alhassan, Freddie Braun, David Horst, James Marcelin 
... Goals: None ... Caution: Lowry 77' 

Following Fixture
Chivas USA
TSN & The Fan 590
Saturday April 2
1 p.m. at BMO Field
Chivas dropped their first match of the season at home 3-2 to Sporting Kansas City. The club is scheduled to face an even stiffer test in their second match against MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids. The Goats changed coaches in the offseason, appointing former U.S. international defender Robin Fraser in hope of returning Chivas to MLS Cup playoffs after the club finished last in the Western Conference in 2010.

Post Game
Toronto finished the match with 10 players after left back Mikael Yourassowsky was ejected near the touchline for a second yellow card issued by referee Silviu Petrescu at the 84th minute. The Belgian received the caution for delaying a substitution as he was leaving the field of play.

Toronto didn't dominate possession in this match unlike last week in a losing cause to Vancouver. Portland enjoyed more of the ball at 55% and had 16 shots to Toronto's 11. The visiting Timbers also completed more passes (321-277) as they looked for a way back into the match after falling behind early. TFC goalkeeper Frei shed light on his team's inability to control the ball as planned, referring to the cold, hard natural grass surface in Toronto as extended winter conditions took its toll on the pitch.

In Their Words "Well, we’re all looking, when we are playing soccer, to find a mix of players, strikers, and today we’re finding a lot. We scored only twice, instead of more times, because we had a lot of opportunities in the first and second half, and also the end passes from our strikers or midfield players was not the best. But still, that was better than last week." - Toronto head coach and technical director Aron Winter.

"It’s like a dream, you know, to play a first game for the Toronto fans and score two goals. And win 2-0, you know. But like I say, we did it, the whole team worked hard, and you see at the end with 10 men, everybody worked for each other, and that’s the most important thing." - Toronto forward Javier Martina.

"We did a lot of passing drills, trying to build out of the back. It made it a little more difficult today with the field, out of the back, especially in both 18s. The field was in terrible shape, so it made it very risky at times to play out of the back. More than we would have probably liked to, we ended up playing longer balls. But I think you have to adjust to the situation, to your surroundings, and we did a decent job of that." - Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

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