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Unbeaten Sounders FC Deals Reds First Loss
April 4, 2009, 8:12 PM
Filed under: Seattle Sounders FC, Toronto FC

Toronto FC saw their season-opening unbeaten streak snapped on Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC at BMO Field.

Expectations were high for the Reds after picking up four road points over the first two games of the season, but first-half goals from Seattle’s Freddie Ljungberg and Steve Zakuani doomed TFC to just their third home loss in league play since the beginning of the 2008 season. The defeat drops Toronto’s all-time record in home openers to 1-2.

Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson returned to the TFC lineup after missing last weekend’s game for international duty, and Greg Sutton made his first start of the season at goalkeeper.

Neither team developed much of an attack in the early minutes, as both sides had to adjust their passing attack in the face of strong winds at BMO Field. The wind chill dropped the temperature below freezing, thus creating a very English atmosphere weather-wise in Toronto but not at all dampening the spirits of the 20,658 supporters on hand.

Seattle, however, quickly turned up the heat on the Reds. In the 15th minute, Ljungberg carried the ball up the center of the field towards the TFC net before passing to Nate Jaqua just outside the penalty area. Jaqua passed it straight back to Ljungberg in a perfect one-two and the Swedish striker made no mistake in burying the ball past Sutton to give Sounders FC the early lead.

It was the first Major League Soccer goal for the former Arsenal star, in what was also Ljungberg’s first MLS start. He started the game at forward in place of MLS scoring leader Fredy Montero, who didn’t make the trip to Toronto due to illness.

The goal seemed to put the Reds back on their heels a bit, as Sounders FC kept the ball in the TFC end for much of the next 10 minutes. The Toronto backline held steady in the face of the increased attack from Seattle and limited the opposition to just one wide shot over the period.

It looked as if TFC might generate some offense of their own in the 27th minute when forward Chad Barrett made a fancy between-the-legs move to evade a defender and then found enough space for a pass to Guevara on the left side. The play, however, was broken up and left the Reds still searching for their first genuine scoring chance of the match.

The most aesthetically pleasing attempt for Toronto came in the 40th minute when fullback Marvell Wynne battled his way down the right side and was just able to fire off a cross before being forced out of bounds. The ball found its way to the foot of Dwyane De Rosario, but the midfielder’s shot was partially blocked and sent wide.

The situation got even worse for the Reds when Sounders FC was able to increase the lead just before halftime. Ljungberg sent the ball in from the right side to Brad Evans, who managed a pass to Jaqua. Two Toronto defenders were in front of Jaqua’s shot, but the ball deflected off the crossed-up pair and bounced to an undefended Zakuani on the left side of the net. The No. 1 pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft buried the shot for his first professional goal.

With his team in a deep hole after 45 minutes, Toronto coach John Carver substituted rookie midfielder Sam Cronin in place of Rohan Ricketts at the half, and then Danny Dichio for Barrett in the 55th minute in an attempt to shake up the TFC attack.

The Reds’ offensive struggles also made them an unwilling part of MLS history. Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller set a new record for most scoreless minutes to start an MLS career, surpassing the old mark of 228 minutes set by Dallas’ Mark Dodd in 1996.

Keller’s streak was nearly broken in the 69th minute on a tantalizingly close chance from Guevara. Fullback Jim Brennan made a nifty move to evade a defender on the left side, and then sent a perfect cross into the box for Guevara. The Honduran star made contact with a header, but the ball bounced off the crossbar and over the net.

TFC came close again eight minutes later on a cross in from De Rosario that found Pablo Vitti on the right side of the Seattle net. The striker collected the pass and shot, but was denied by a diving stop from Keller. The only other major scoring chance of the game came in the 88th minute when a Guevara direct free kick sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

The Reds will be back at BMO Field next Saturday for the first in a two-weekend, home-and-home set with FC Dallas. Toronto is 1-2-1 all-time against Dallas, with the lone victory being the largest in team history — a 4-0 rout on June 17, 2007.

Source: Click Here

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