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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Nutrilite Canadian Championship Final First Leg – Whitecaps v Toronto FC

Written by on May 19, 2011 | 3 Comments »
Posted in Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps

Pre-Game

It is a bit early to talk of this two-legged affair rescuing the season for either of these two sides but nonetheless both have struggled to get results in MLS.

Expansion side Vancouver Whitecaps have only one win in eleven matches (along with 5 draws) and the single victory came in their first games which was against Toronto FC.

The visitors are little better with two wins and five draws also from eleven games. The last time these two met they shared six goals so hopes were high of a repeat.

Vancouver started with – Nolly; Leathers, DeMerit, Janicki, Rochat; Salinas, Dunfield, Koffie, Chiumiento; Camilo, Hassli

For Toronto it was – Frei: Eckersley, Cann,Williams, Gargan; Tchani, DeGuzman, Peterson; Soolsma, Santos, Plata

Both line-ups could be considered first choice so no one was being held in reserve.

The Game

Both sides took a while to get any rhythm and tempo going.  With the exception of an effort from Vancouver’s Terry Dunfield which he screwed wide after being fed in by Chiumiento there was little threat of either team scoring in the early going.

As the game started to settle, it became a series of well-defined one-on-one battles, particularly in the wide positions. Shea Salinas began to get the better of  Dan Gargan with the Toronto left back getting little support from Plata who played further forward and Peterson who tucked in on the left side of midfield.

Toronto’s Soolsma went past Rochat a couple of times but the final ball into the Vancouver penalty box failed to find an attacker. Eckersley was forced to step up to confront Chiumiento on the Whitecaps left which allowed Camilo to run off Williams and into the space behind Eckersley.

It was such a combination from Chiumiento and Camilo just before the half hour mark that led to Vancouver going close. Picking up the ball in the vacated right-back position Camilo cut back inside and then forced Stefan Frei into a very good save low to his left.

Half time 0-0

Within three minutes of the restart Toronto had the referee, the goalpost and a few inches to thank for not going behind. Cann brought down Camilo in what looked to be a clear cut penalty, Hassli then hit the post and finally a Merit header drifted agonizingly across the face of the Toronto goal.

The pressure from Vancouver continued as they looked to take advantage of a depleted Toronto midfield. The goal frame came to Toronto’s rescue again when Camilo thumped a shot off the crossbar.

Chiumiento was the tormentor in chief of Toronto and when the Vancouver goal did come he was the architect. When a Toronto attack broke down Vancouver counter attacked swiftly. The ball was fed quickly to Chiumiento who was able to take advantage of DeGuzman being caught upfield and not having the legs to recover in time.

A pass was fed to Hassli who put his shot wide of Frei – 1-0 Vancouver. But rather than build on the lead Vancouver found the game tied at 1-1 just 10 minutes later.

Just after a Cann shot was scrambled away after Nolly failed to deal with a high corner kick to the back post, Toronto equalized from a wonderfully constructed and executed move.

Soolsma engineered the move rounding a Vancouver defender on the right and delivering a low hard cross to the near post. A charging Maicon Santos deftly touched the ball beyond Nolly and into the far corner.

Vancouver had the best of the final fifteen minutes as Toronto hunkered down looking to preserve a draw. The best opportunity came with seconds left when left back Rochat took advantage of indecision between Williams and Frei and got a header in but it dribbled just wide.

So the game finished 1-1 with Toronto credited with what might be a valuable goal. Vancouver will feel that the draw was something Toronto did not deserve but with the second leg next Wednesday in Toronto that would really be a case of crying over spilled milk.

The winner over two legs will represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League that starts in July.

Player Ratings

Nolly  5; Leathers 6, DeMerit 7, Janicki 6, Rochat 5; Salinas 5, Dunfield 6, Koffie 5, Chiumiento 8; Camilo 6, Hassli 7

For Toronto it was – Frei 5: Eckersley 6, Cann 6,Williams 5, Gargan 4; Tchani 6, DeGuzman 6, Peterson 6; Soolsma 7, Santos 6, Plata 4

Substitutes

First Half – Toronto – Gold 6 for Peterson

Second Half – Toronto – Cordon 5 for Tchani; Harden 5 for Plata. Vancouver – Salgado 6 for Hassli; Khalfan for Camilo off; Teibert for Salinas.  (Khalfan and Teibert insufficient data)

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3 responses to “Nutrilite Canadian Championship Final First Leg – Whitecaps v Toronto FC”

  1. Michael Sebold says:

    I was only able to catch the end of the first half, but your account of the game rather sums up my comparative impressions of the two sides this season: TFC have better results despite being more difficult to watch; WFC are an enjoyable watch, but have come up short. At the end of the day, I believe that WFC would have had a better record if they had been able to forstall the early-season Hassli stupidity. With DeMerrit seemingly fit again, we might just see the side punch through to secure all three a little more often.

  2. Michael Sebold says:

    I’d put it this way:

    A healthy DeMerit should make for a more consistently solid WFC backline, which should pay dividends for a club that usually move the ball forward quite well and without the sense of panic that seems to pervade other teams (or MLS teams with red kit). They have the feel of side that will eventually gel, and build on its strengths – in fact, their style of play looks to me rather like what Winter talks about bringing to Toronto.

    Watching TFC, on the other hand, leaves me feeling more like I’m sitting at a roulette table: there is a chance that the ball will land in a spectacular spot, but the odds favour the house. Or maybe Forrest’s box of chocolates is actually a better analogy . . .

  3. John Bladen says:

    Perhaps a bit generous with JDG’s rating, Bobby? I thought his leisurely jog back while the Whitecaps were building up to their goal was unforgiveable. Maybe he couldn’t have caught them anyway, but you’d expect him track back and try to cut off passes, particularly given the fact that he is paid more than everyone else in red on the pitch Wed. night.

    Vancouver was unlucky not to put a couple of their chances in, and Mr. Petrescu clearly missed a penalty on Cann. Unlucky or not, they now have to travel to Toronto and get at least one away goal next week. Not an ideal position to be in after leg one at home…

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