Dutch infusion beginning to pay dividends for Toronto FC.A boisterous crowd filled BMO Field on a frigid afternoon for Toronto FC’s 2011 home opener. The bundled up fans left happy as Javier Martina scored a brace in his second MLS appearance, while Stefan Frei earned his 14th career clean sheet.
With the temperature hovering just below zero degrees Celsius, both teams started the game cautiously. Toronto was looking to build out of the back, but as in Vancouver, defenders passes became increasingly errant as Portland started pressuring deep into Toronto’s half.
Toronto caught Portland on a quick counter attack in the 14th minute that started from a perfectly weighted Maicon Santos through-ball to Dwayne De Rosario. After being forced towards the touchline, De Rosario turned and found an on rushing Javier Martina. The Dutchman slotted it past Adin Brown.
Portland continued with the high pressure, which limited Toronto’s ability to move the ball out of their half. Portland had the majority of the ball but was unable to take advantage of their possession.
Kenny Cooper was the only Timber who looked to be a threat to Frei’s shutout. He created space and draw a few fouls in the final third, but Portland failed to significantly test Frei from the set pieces.
Aron Winter brought in the newly signed Alen Stevanovic at half time for Nathan Sturgis. Stevanovic was an immediate impact to the flow of Toronto’s possession, as they began moving the ball out of their half with ease. This possession almost brought immediate rewards as a wonderful flick by Alan Gordon put Santos alone on net, but his weak attempt was easily saved by Portland’s half time substitute goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
In the 50th minute, Portland had their best chance to bring the game level. Cooper found Jeremy Hall down the right wing coming in at an angle to Frei. Just inside the 18 yard box he hit a screamer. Frei had cut the angle off and his positioning allowed him to push the shot wide of the net for a corner.
As Stevanovic began moving up the field, Toronto was able to keep possession of the ball into the middle of the field and in the final third. Despite the possession, Toronto’s insurance goal came from a Frei clearance that nearly went the full length of the field. Martina saw Gleeson’s hesitation in coming for the ball and made him pay for it by lobbing the ball over him into the net.
Toronto finished the game with 10 men as Yourassowsky was given a second yellow for failing to leave the field in timely manner. Toronto secured a clean sheet and claim their first win in the 2011 MLS season, while the expansion Portland Timbers have yet to win an MLS game.
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