TFC grinds out win in trying conditions

Toronto rode another goal by Jermain Defoe to win an 'awkward' match versus D.C. United at BMO FIeld.

TORONTO -- It wasnt the prettiest of games, but Toronto FC's 1-0 win on Saturday over D.C. United showed that Major League Soccer's new glamour team can grind out results if needed.

Near freezing temperatures, high winds off Lake Ontario, and a field that looked more fit for motocross than high-level soccer combined to make the match more a battle of attrition than a game befitting of TFC's new free-spending ways.

Still, the three points counted the same and the home crowd went away happy, said Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen.

"I thought the performance was very good because obviously it's a wee bit of an awkward game for us," Nelsen told reporters. "We knew expectations were high, we knew the crowd would be out, we knew the field, we knew the conditions. It was gonna be a game [of] 'who made the mistake and who took the chance?' It was always going to be that."

With that knowledge in mind, Nelsen said that both teams altered their gameplans to make the most of a tough situation.

"The field was not really conducive to playing any sort of football. You saw most of the attacks from both teams, the productive attacks, were all from turnovers," he said. "That's not fault of the groundsmen, I blame for God for that for the winter he's given Toronto.

"I don't want all the religious people after me for saying that," Nelsen added with a laugh.

What stayed consistent from last week's victory over Seattle was the form of striker Jermain Defoe, who once again proved his worth by potting the game's only goal in the 60th minute. Defoe could have had a handful of goals in the first half, but he refused to blame the poor conditions for his uncharacteristically poor finishing in the opening 45 minutes.

"It was a difficult game, [D.C.] made it difficult," Defoe said. "The conditions weren't the best but to win the game was so important and we did that."

"It's the same for both teams," the striker said of the conditions at BMO Field. "We got the goal in the second half and then we had to dig deep and hold the lead."

It was that ability to protect a lead, something that had been sorely missing from previous editions of TFC, that impressed American midielder Michael Bradley the most. TFC has done it in both of its games so far this season.

"The story was the same this week -- early in the season, conditions far from ideal, but good teams find a way to win," Bradley said. "It's still early, still only two games, but better two wins than two losses."