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Reds Hang On For Victory
April 26, 2009, 10:37 PM
Filed under: Kansas City Wizards, Toronto FC

A second-half goal from Danny Dichio put Toronto FC atop the Eastern Conference after a 1-0 win against the Kansas City Wizards on Sunday evening at BMO Field.

Dichio’s conversion after a nice pair of passes from Marvell Wynne and Sam Cronin was the only score for Toronto on an impressive attacking performance for the side. It was the second consecutive victory for TFC and their first since the surprise resignation of head coach John Carver on Saturday. Assistant coaches Chris Cummins (who also led the team last Wednesday with Carver watching from a private box) and Nick Dasovic were in charge of the team on Sunday.

The win puts TFC in first place in the East with 11 points, displacing Kansas City from the top of the division table. It was Toronto’s second win against K.C. this season, after beating the Wizards 3-2 in the season opener on March 21.

The Reds used the same starting XI as they did against Chivas on Wednesday. Kansas City made two changes from the side that defeated New York 1-0 on Thursday night, with Michael Harrington and Roger Espinoza replacing Herculez Gomez and Jack Jewsbury (who suffered a concussion on Thursday) in the midfield.

TFC controlled the ball for most of the opening 10 minutes, and while no shots were taken, they did excite the crowd on two occasions. In the eighth minute, Carl Robinson sent a well-aimed pass that almost sprung Pablo Vitti in front of the goal area, but K.C. ‘keeper Kevin Hartman raced out to grab the ball. A minute later, Wynne raced down the right side and passed to Chad Barrett, whose cross just missed Dichio in front of the net and sailed through the area.

The next segment of the match, however, was almost as equally dominated by Kansas City. The Wizards won a pair each of corners and free kicks to keep the ball in the Toronto end, but aside from giving the BMO Field fans an opening to shower the Wizards with streamers, nothing came of the chances. Other than a fairly harmless shot from Davy Arnaud, the Reds were able to keep their opponents from turning this time of possession into a real scoring opportunity.

The best chance of the half for either side came in the 34th minute. With the ball in the K.C. end, the Wizards back line seemed to momentarily pause in expectation of a foul being called. No call was forthcoming from the referee, however, and Toronto took advantage of the momentary pause to work the ball to Amado Guevara. The attacking midfielder, who scored twice against K.C. on March 21, launched a hard shot from just beyond the penalty area, but Hartman made a jumping save to keep the game scoreless.

Just before the break, TFC goalkeeper Stefan Frei was called upon to make his first save of the match. A curving cross found Arnaud on the left side of the Toronto net, and though the Wizards’ leading scorer was being marked by defender Marco Velez, Arnaud still managed to fire off a shot that required Frei to make a nice point-blank save. It was Frei’s second save in his last 142 minutes of action, as the ‘keeper only had to make one stop in picking up his first career clean sheet against Chivas last Wednesday.

Frei was called upon again less than a minute into the second half, as he stopped a Josh Wolff strike off of an innocuous-looking cross that simply seemed to slip by three Toronto defenders.

In the 54th minute, it was Toronto who opened the scoring. Barrett was finding success on the left side all day long, and his latest attempt from the flank was deflected beyond the far post. Wynne caught up the ball to stop it from going out of bounds and passed it to Sam Cronin, who found Dichio in front of the net. The big forward just got enough of the ball on the turn to curl it inside the left post, the first goal of the season for Dichio, Toronto’s all-time leading scorer.

While Dichio was scoring and Barrett was creating plays, the third member of TFC’s strike force, Vitti, had himself an unusual five-minute stretch in the second half. The young Argentinean was called offside while putting the ball in the back of the Kansas City net, but Vitti didn’t notice the call he had his jersey off and was halfway through his goal celebration. The result was a yellow card for the embarrassed young striker.

Vitti made up for it a few minutes later when he showed his quality on a fantastic near-miss. The forward showed some amazing footwork to evade three Kansas City defenders and nearly scored what would’ve been a Goal Of The Year candidate, unfortunately rolling his shot just to the outside of the right post.

The pace of the match quickened considerably in the second half, as the Wizards looked for the equalizer and TFC kept playing to add to their lead. Midfielder Santiago Hirsig had a pair of shots, one of which required a goalmouth block from Jim Brennan, while the Reds countered with a good chance from Barrett that sailed into the right side of the net.

Vitti’s magic continued in the 79th minute, as he showed some more evasive maneuvers that created some space for a high shot. A minute later, the Argentinean had yet another impressive run that resulted in a big save from Hartman, and Vitti grabbed the rebound and crossed to Barrett for another close attempt.

Barrett came up with a minor leg injury on the play and was substituted for Rohan Ricketts. Kevin Harmse had come into a game a few minutes earlier for Guevara, as the Reds began to focus more on defending in order to hold their one-goal lead.

K.C. pushed hard for the tying goal in the final minutes. The BMO Field fans were scared by a central run by Gomez in the 87th minute, but Frei stood his ground to block the shot. Frei stopped Gomez again on arguably an even more difficult attempt less than a minute later.

The Reds are back in action on Saturday when they play host to the Columbus Crew. The clubs met on March 28 in Columbus and halved a 1-1 draw. As for the Wizards, they now have a 10-day break before taking on D.C. United at CommunityAmerica Ballpark on May 6.

Source: Click Here

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