A goaltending clinic by Stefan Frei allowed to Toronto FC to remain undefeated at home with a 2-0 defeat of a road-weary Seattle Sounders squad. Receiving second half markers from Dwayne De Rosario and O’Brian White, TFC enjoyed its first clean sheet of the season, while the Sounders slumped to a second consecutive disappointing away result.
In an instance of pathetic parallelism, the dour Toronto weather perfectly reflected the play on the pitch, as both sides struggled with a wet ball to produce what wasn’t exactly a glorious first 45 minutes. With good chances few and far between, most of the action in the half featured some rough and tumble play that saw 3 names going into the book.
An incensed Freddie Ljungberg had words with official Jorge Gonzalez after Martin Saric clipped the former Gunner hard, following through on a tackle in the 7th. Despite the solid follow through, Saric did make full contact with the ball and the referee did not award a foul, much to Ljungberg’s incredulity.
Shortly thereafter, TFC, in its away white kit, had its best chance of the half, when Chad Barrett forced Tyson Wahl into a turnover just yards from the corner flag and quickly fed a nearby O’Brian White. The defender’s blushes were spared, though, as White’s hard strike was saved nicely by a quick-to-react Kasey Keller, who forced it over the bar.
Later in the half, it was the Sounders’ turn to come close. Ljungberg, streaking down the left, found an oncoming Brad Evans with an inviting cross. Evans did well to get behind marker Nana Attakora, but the 2008 MLS Cup-winner’s header went well over the crossbar.
Though deadlocked, Preki would be happy with his side’s performance as it was worlds better than one week ago in Colorado.
Some superb passing from the Seattle midfielders almost opened the scoring in the second half’s first minutes. A quick pass from Peter Vagenas found Ljungberg, who, with a simply deft piece of skill, threaded the ball between two TFC defenders, sending Nathan Sturgis in alone on Stefan Frei. The lanky Swiss keeper came out and cut the angle beautifully to stop Sturgis from point-blank range.
TFC would reward its ‘keeper’s effort only minutes later. After a bizarre play that saw a Chad Barrett cross deflected out of the box by referee Gonzalez, Dwayne De Rosario collected from outside of the boxed, cut inside, and hammered a strike past a diving Keller to give the Reds a 1-0 lead in the 58th. Not only did DeRo’s 5th tally of the season break the deadlock, in the process, it woke up an uncharacteristically demure BMO Field.
The Reds had little time to savor their lead, as the Sounders came right back at their hosts. Evans latched on to a nicely timed James Riley through ball, but Frei stood tall, coming out once again to cut the angle and denying the equalizer.
For the second time in the match, a big stop from Frei would embolden TFC, as they doubled their lead in the 76th. This time, De Rosario would play provider, cutting into the Seattle box and drawing away a defender, before passing to White, who left-footed the ball past Keller. This marked the first time in the season that a TFC player not named Dwayne De Rosario found the scoresheet.
Frei would complete his second-half hat trick of stunning saves in the 82nd. As the Sounders pressed forward with a renewed attack, Fredy Montero moved forward deep into the box unmarked. The substitute found himself able to unleash from close range, but the young Colombian was thwarted brilliantly by Frei, whose sensational save ensured the shutout and capped off what was undoubtedly TFC’s best half of football this season.
The Sounders will now return to the friendly confines of Qwest Field to take on Robbie Rogers and the Columbus Crew on Saturday night.
TFC remains at home to host the Montreal Impact in the opening match of the Nutrilite Canada Cup on Wednesday, before heading to Utah to face Kyle Beckerman and the defending MLS Cup Champions, Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.
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