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.
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.
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
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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