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TFC suddenly grabs top spot
April 27, 2009, 8:16 AM
Filed under: Kansas City Wizards, Toronto FC

It’s a new era and a new position – first place.

Toronto FC players, stunned by Saturday’s resignation of head coach John Carver, put the off-field distractions aside last night to defeat the Kansas City Wizards 1-0 at BMO Field, vaulting to the top of Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference standing.

“We’ve had a hard couple of days, as you’ve all seen, and we just wanted to get that win,” said Danny Dichio, who scored on a low, right-footed shot from about 10 yards that snuck just inside the left post past a diving Kevin Hartman in the 54th minute.

“We wanted to show as a team that we’ve got a great team spirit here,” Dichio continued, “and no matter what happens with the staff … it’s the team that wins games here and the team that loses games here.

“We had to go out and show the fans today that we’re strong as a unit.”

The departure of Carver, who abruptly announced his resignation for “personal reasons” only four days after he was fined $750 (U.S.) by MLS for publicly criticizing the officiating in last Sunday’s 3-2 loss at FC Dallas, left the players “disappointed and saddened,” Carl Robinson said. He called the ex-coach “a great guy, the boys loved him.”

“We said today what we’ve got to do now is win the game for him and go and get the end product, which is get in the playoffs and win a championship for him,” Robinson explained.

Chris Cummins, who handled sideline duties in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA, was again there last night.

General manager Mo Johnston said he’ll meet with Cummins and assistant coach Nick Dasovic today and then likely announce they’ll be interim coaches.

“We need to put the era of John Carver behind us now and we have to move forward,” Johnston told reporters at a post-game news conference, stressing that there was no rift between him and Carver, that the former coach wasn’t angry about a lack of support from TFC management over the MLS discipline or fleeing for a job back in his native England.

Cummins, who said, “I’d be silly to sit here and say, `No, I don’t'” want the head coach’s job, employed a three-striker formation for the second straight game and TFC created a host of chances before 20,056 fans.

Dichio, a 6-foot-3, 208-pounder, constantly created space for Chad Barrett and rookie Pablo Vitti, who was brilliant with the ball.

“The chances that we created were first class,” Cummins said. “I start worrying when we don’t create chances.”

“The finishing isn’t what I wanted,” Vitti said through an interpreter of a game in which he got four shots, was always a threat and was named man of the match.

Vitti thought he had opened the scoring in the 52nd minute and tore off his shirt in celebration. But the play was called offside and he was given a yellow card for the move.

“I feel very well playing with those guys,” Vitti said of lining up alongside Dichio and Barrett, as he did for the first time in Wednesday’s victory.

“We fit each other. I think we can go forward in the next games and keep the team up.”

Lack of finishing touch by TFC kept the game in doubt and made for some tense final moments as Kansas City, 3-3-1, had a couple of good chances to tie it.

In the 88th minute, Herculez Gomez broke through and shot from 18 yards, forcing a good save by rookie Stefan Frei, who picked up his second shutout in a row.

In stoppage time, Frei just got his hand on a high drive by Claudio Lopez to preserve the win.

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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.

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Watch TFC vs KC: LIVE!
April 26, 2009, 1:43 PM
Filed under: Kansas City Wizards, Toronto FC

CLICK HERE to watch TFC vs KC Wizards @ 5PM ET

TFC vs KC – Game in 6 minutes
March 22, 2009, 2:47 PM
Filed under: Kansas City Wizards, Toronto FC

Guevara scores twice to power Toronto to 3-2 victory
March 21, 2009, 11:08 PM
Filed under: Amado Guevara, Kansas City Wizards, Toronto FC

Toronto FC began their 2009 MLS campaign Saturday evening by grabbing a 3-2 win over the Kansas City Wizards at a sold-out CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Team captain Jim Brennan put Toronto in the lead late in the first half and two goals from Amado Guevara in the second half sealed the historic win.

Davy Arnaud scored two remarkable goals for the home side, but they weren’t enough as the triumph was the Reds’ first season-opening away win in their short three-year history.

Pointing to TFC’s only four wins away from BMO Field in their first two seasons, head coach John Carver said away form was critical to Toronto FC’s goal of making the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history. The offseason additions of MLS veterans Dwayne De Rosario and back Adrian Serioux upped the depth and quality of the side, one fit for more success on the road. Yet Carver chose to give rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei the start between the posts ahead of incumbent Greg Sutton.

With Serioux sweeping away wayward Wizards balls in the back and a possession-oriented attack, TFC created three chances within the first 12 minutes. All fell to forward Chad Barrett, and two saw the 23-year-old in alone on Wizards’ goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.

Barrett sent a chip high over the goal after being put through from a long pass from right back Marvell Wynne, sent a poor clearance screaming just above the crossbar from the 18, and then caught the turf on the third attempt as he came in from the left after De Rosario’s feed split the K.C. defense.

It wasn’t until the 24th minute that Kansas City posed a serious threat. Given space on the left, forward Herculez Gomez struck for the near post, forcing first-round SuperDraft choice Frei to dive down to the right for his first save since ending his collegiate career with the University of California.

But while the Wizards began to hold more possession, Toronto FC had found the time to strike. With the Wizards pressing the attack, Brennan stripped Kansas City rookie Graham Zusi near midfield on the left, clipped the ball into De Rosario, and hit the space behind the defense. Nine yards out on the left, Brennan got the ball back and beat Hartman high inside the near post for the lead in the 33rd minute.

The goal marked the first time the Reds had ever scored and led in a season opener, and the lead held for halftime.

Toronto would have to continue working to earn the win though as Kansas City increased the offensive pressure from the second-half whistle, bringing on second-year midfielder Roger Espinoza and removing center back Aaron Hohlbein.

Despite K.C. again holding the better of the possession, the Reds took their opportunities and kept the pressure firmly on the home side. It was the battle-tested Guevara who would double the lead.

Receiving a pass from midfield workhorse Carl Robinson in the 53rd minute, the Honduran international turned 360 on Wizards right back Jonathan Leathers and drilled the ball into the right corner of Hartman’s net. The realization of a sudden two-goal lead sent Guevara’s teammates and the more than 100 Reds supporters perched high behind the TFC bench into near-delirium.

Another Wizards flurry followed as Herculez Gomez whipped a shot that sailed just above the bar two minutes later. Then Kansas City struck blood in awe-inspiring fashion. Settling from a Claudio Lopez pass from his right, Arnaud loaded his left boot from 25 yards and unleashed a bullet into the right upper corner of Frei’s goal to give the home side a chance in the 55th minute. Once again, the Wizards had found inspiration from their tireless sparkplug.

Toronto kept their heads, allowing for a Guevara encore. In the 62nd minute, Robinson picked out De Rosario inside the left of the Wizards box. The Canadian native, in his first match for Toronto, pinged a shot that Hartman parried aside. The alert Guevara ran through the pack and nailed the rebound past the prone goalkeeper to restore the two-goal advantage.

But there was plenty of time left, and Kansas City was not ready to crumble. Recent Argentinean acquisition Santiago Hirsig entered the fray for the Wizards after the goal and paid dividends just 14 minutes later. After taking a pass from Espinoza, Hirsig found Arnaud in a central position 22 yards out. Arnaud would follow Guevara’s act and rip his second score of the night with a blistering shot into the net in the 76th minute.

As the two sides continued their push-and-pull, fate intervened when Wizards fullback Michael Harrington was called for a seemingly inadvertent handball in the 80th minute. De Rosario stepped up to take the kick with the chance to put his side comfortably ahead with 10 minutes to go. But his attempt rose high and the drama would continue.

After the final minutes wound down, Toronto FC had pulled off a dream start with the 3-2 win. Next Saturday the Reds will be in Columbus to try and make it two road wins in a row while Kansas City is at Colorado.

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TFC visit KC on Sat night
March 20, 2009, 7:19 AM
Filed under: Kansas City Wizards, Toronto FC

March 21, 2009 (WEEK 1) / MLS Game #4
7:30 p.m. CT (MetroSports/TWC-5; GolTV Can.)

A pair of teams looking to make some noise in the Eastern Conference meet in First Kick 2009 when the Kansas City Wizards play host to Toronto FC. The Wizards were one of the hottest teams down the stretch last season, and narrowly fell short on eliminating the eventual champion Columbus Crew in the MLS Cup Playoffs. Toronto FC was much improved in its second season in MLS, and has a place in the postseason firmly in its sights to kick off the year.

REFEREE: Jorge Gonzalez. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Chris Penso MLS Career: 26 games; FC/gm: 27.0; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 6; pens: 9

INJURY REPORT: KANSAS CITY WIZARDS – OUT: FW Adam Cristman (fifth metatarsal fracture); GK Eric Kronberg (shoulder surgery); DF Chance Myers (fifth metatarsal fracture) … TORONTO FC – OUT: FW O’Brian White (knee); DF Nana Attakora-Gyan (hip flexor); PROBABLE: DF Adrian Serioux (hip flexor)

ALL-TIME (6 meetings): Wizards 3 wins, 7 goals … Toronto FC 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 2
AT KANSAS CITY: (3 meetings): Wizards 2 wins, 6 goals … Toronto FC 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 1
RETURN MATCH: 4/26: Kansas City Wizards at Toronto FC

4/26: TOR 2, KC 0 (Guevara 56, 77)

6/21: TOR 0, KC 0

9/20: KC 2, TOR 0 (Jewsbury 63; Souter 79)

• Toronto FC won for the first time in four tries against the Wizards in their first meeting last season.

• After winning in their first two meetings ever, the Wizards went three games vs. TFC without claiming a victory, until the 2-0 victory at home in last season’s final meeting.

• There have been shutouts in five of the six meetings all-time, including the scoreless draw last June 21 at BMO Field.

• Coaches record: Curt Onalfo v KC: P6 W3 L1 D2 … John Carver vs. KC: P3 W1 L1 D1


Some late-season moves gave the Kansas City Wizards the spark they needed to move into the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs, and they nearly claimed an opening round upset of the Columbus Crew. From that foundation, third-year coach Curt Onalfo believes the pieces are in place for the club to make a deep run into the postseason, aiming for a third-ever trip to the MLS Cup Final.

• The Wizards rounded out their preseason schedule with a 4-0 victory against the USL First Division Minnesota Thunder on March 14 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Claudio Lopez gave the Wizards a fourth-minute lead, then Jack Jewsbury (50), Lopez (67 pen) and Roger Espinoza (79) hit for goals in the second half.

• Here’s Curt Onalfo’s team: Kevin Hartman; Jonathan Leathers, Jimmy Conrad (Matt Besler 66), Aaron Hohlbein, Michael Harrington; Graham Zusi, Jack Jewsbury (Kurt Morsink 81), Davy Arnaud (Kevin Souter 46), Claudio Lopez (Roger Espinoza 71); Josh Wolff (Michael Kraus 71), Herculez Gomez (Abe Thompson 62)

• Offseason acquisition Adam Cristman, expected to contend for a starting striker spot, will be lost to the team for up to three months after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture of his fifth metatarsal in his foot.

• Another injury question, Herculez Gomez, started against Minnesota and played just more than an hour. He will be available for selection for the season opener.

• The club continues to await the arrival of midfielder Santiago Hirsig into the U.S., after the completion of his visa paperwork. Hirsig was with the club on their week-long trip to Mexico.

• “We have a certain way we want to play, regardless of who is on the field,” Onalfo said. “So, certainly, we’ve been thinking about Toronto for some time now.”

• Perhaps the only starting spot still truly up for grabs could be at center back, where third-year man Aaron Hohlbein is being pressed by rookie Matt Besler, a first-round SuperDraft selection out of Notre Dame.

• Goalkeeper Kevin Hartman is on the verge of another MLS goalkeeping milestone. With seven more saves, he will surpass Tony Meola for the all-time MLS lead. Hartman already owns the league record in shutouts (77), appearances as a goalkeeper (303), goalkeeper wins (138).

• “I think we’re all excited to get the regular season started and start playing games that matter in the standings. We’re looking forward to playing a team, Toronto FC, that we think highly of,” Hartman said. “Some of the additions they have made such as Dwayne De Rosario are great additions to their team. We have to be aware of their speed and their class and try to neutralize their attack.


From Year One to Year Two, Toronto FC made a 10-point improvement. The Reds are hoping that a number of high-profile additions will at least match that increase in 2009, moving the team into the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time. John Carver is in his second year in charge of the club, taking over before the start of last season.

• Toronto FC completed their preseason schedule at the week-long Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. After victories against D.C. United and the host Charleston Battery, TFC fell 2-1 to Real Salt Lake in the championship decider on March 14.

• Yura Movsisyan and Clint Mathis put RSL ahead by two goals just 20 minutes into the game, but Dwayne De Rosario equalized for the Reds on 38 minutes. TFC were a man down at the time, Kevin Harmse having been sent off for a second bookable offense in the 22nd minute.

• Here’s John Carver’s team: Stefan Frei; Marvell Wynne, Kevin Harmse, Adrian Serioux (Marco Velez 26), Jim Brennan; Rohan Ricketts (Sam Cronin 54), Carl Robinson, Amado Guevara, Dwayne De Rosario (Amadou Sanyang 89); Pablo Vitti (Danny Dichio 71), Chad Barrett (Fuad Ibrahim 82)

• While Carver was disappointed with the loss, he said there could be a positive side to it. “Everybody was getting a bit carried away, players and fans, because we were going to win everything in sight,” Carver said. “But it brought everybody back down to earth a little bit … it takes away that complacency. It isn’t a bad thing. It may have happened just at the right time.”

• Serioux was forced off with an injury midway through the first half of the RSL match, and Carver said it could keep him out of the season opener. Carver and TFC also got a look at what Serioux can bring, after he was sent off in the CCC-opening 2-1 win against Charleston.

• “[Serioux] was injured when he came to us, he had that hernia operation .. .so he was behind the rest of the group,” Carver said. “He’s been working very hard since he’s come through the door but you have to be careful. You don’t want to overcook him. I’ve got to make the decision whether he’s going to be right to play on Saturday. … If he’s fit, he’ll play, it’s as simple as that. If he’s not, I won’t take a risk with him.”

• Young defender Nana Attakora-Gyan is also expected to be unavailable for the opener. “With hip flexors you’re talking three, four, five weeks,” Carver said. “It just depends on the severity of it.”

• Carver said – unlike his first season in charge – he has a very good idea of his first XI. “I have played around with things in preseason and again this morning, but now I know what my team is going to be,” he said. “This time last year I didn’t have a clue who would be starting, so it shows how much progress we have made.”

• TFC’s offseason maneuvering also has the team thinking positively about the upcoming campaign, which all began with the trade for Dwayne De Rosario from the Houston Dynamo.

• “You add Dwayne, who was a big important piece in moving forward. When we got him, then other things started to fall,” said TFC director of soccer Mo Johnston. “We bring in Pablo Vitti, then we get Adrian [Serioux], that’s three big signings for us. On top of that the three [first-round] draft picks and then we added the pair of Gambians [Emmanuel Gomez and Amadou Sanyang].”

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