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TFC Back to the CCC
December 17, 2009, 11:19 PM
Filed under: Carolina Challenge Cup, DC United, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC

The 2009 Major League Soccer champions, Real Salt Lake return to Charleston in March to compete in the 2010 edition of the Charleston Battery’s pre-season tournament, the Carolina Challenge Cup. RSL won the Carolina Challenge Cup in 2009 and went on to win their first MLS Cup defeating the Los Angeles Galaxy in a penalty-shootout.

Major League Soccer’s DC United and Toronto FC also make return visits to the tournament. It will be DC’s fifth appearance in the Carolina Challenge Cup and Toronto’s fourth. This is the seventh consecutive year that the Charleston Battery has hosted its pre-season tournament featuring Major League Soccer.

All three MLS teams will spend the week in Charleston, SC, training between the games as they prepare for the start of the Major League Soccer season.

The competition format will remain unchanged in 2010 with three match day’s each featuring a double-header. The games will be played on Saturday (March 13), Wednesday (March 17) and Saturday (March 20), with each team playing the other in a round-robin tournament.

Tickets for the 2010 Carolina Challenge Cup are on sale now with prices frozen at 2009 levels ($15 – $25, (843) 971-GOAL (4625) / www. Charleston Battery Season Ticket holders receive complimentary tickets to all three Carolina Challenge Cup doubleheaders.

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March 15, 2009, 12:21 AM
Filed under: Carolina Challenge Cup, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC

Toronto FC were beaten 2-1 by Real Salt Lake in the deciding match of the Carolina Challenge Cup at Blackbaud Stadium in South Carolina on Saturday. Dwayne De Rosario pulled TFC back into the game with a goal shortly before half time after RSL had taken a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.

The Reds fell behind in just the 6th minute when Javier Morales ball over the top of the TFC defenders found Yura Movsisyan in alone on Stefan Frei. He shot just inside right post to open the scoring.

Toronto’s first chance came in the 12 minute with Pablo Vitti feeding Chad Barrett, but the striker’s shot was easily saved by Nick Rimando in the Salt Lake goal.

RSL dominated the early stages, and doubled the lead in the 20th minute. Robbie Findley raced past Marvell Wynne and cut the ball back to Clint Mathis who scored from 10 yards out to put RSL up 2-0.

Toronto’s hopes of getting back into the game were dealt a big blow two minutes later when Kevin Harmse was sent off after recieving a second yellow card. Shortly after the sending off, Adrian Serioux was forced to leave the match with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Marco Velez, leaving TFC without both of their starting central defenders.

Stefan Frei tipped over a Kyle Beckerman shot to deny RSL a third goal but as the half went on, TFC started to come into the game. In the 38th minute Dwayne De Rosario pulled the Reds back into the match with his third goal of the tournament. RSL defender Jamison Olave fouled Barrett 25 yards out. Amado Guevara’s free kick was headed off the line by Chris Wingert but as the ball was played back into the box, De Rosario pounced to score from close range.

Chances were at a premium after the break. Clint Mathis was denied by Stefan Frei with a header from 12 yards and Kyle Beckerman fired a shot just over the bar.

Chad Barrett headed wide from a De Rosario cross in the 69th minute for Toronto, and with time running out, the Reds thought they had tied the game. In the 85th minute, Amado Guevara’s free kick was disallowed for offside with the officials ruling that Fuad Ibrahim had interfered with play.

Toronto finished the tournament with two wins and a defeat, a big improvement on 12 months ago. The Reds now return home to prepare for the MLS season opener at Kansas City next Saturday, March 21st (8:30 p.m. live on Gol TV).

TFC line-up: Frei, Wynne, Harmse (sent off 22), Serioux (Velez 26), Brennan, De Rosario (Sanyang 89), Robinson, Guevara, Ricketts (Cronin 54), Barrett (Ibrahim 82), Vitti (Dichio 71)

RSL line-up: Rimando, Beltran (Cox 82), Olave, Horst, Wingert, Mathis (Grabavoy 65), Beckerman, Morales (Williams 70), Johnston, Movsisyan, Findley

Scoring summary:
6′ TFC 0 RSL 1 – Movsisyan
20′ TFC 0 RSL 2 – Mathis
38′ TFC 1 RSL 2 – De Rosario

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TFC need win to lift trophy
March 13, 2009, 3:39 PM
Filed under: Carolina Challenge Cup, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC

It may still be preseason, but a win against Real Salt Lake on Saturday (kick off 5:00 p.m.) will give Toronto FC the first trophy of the club’s history. Both teams go into the decider at the Carolina Challenge Cup with six points from the first two matches, although Real Salt Lake lead the standings with a superior goal difference.

Toronto opened the tournament with a 2-1 win over the hosts Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League on Saturday with goals from Dwayne De Rosario and Rohan Ricketts. De Rosario scored again on Wednesday in a 2-1 win against D.C. United. He also supplied the cross for Chad Barrett to head in the opening goal.

Pablo Vitti was rested for the opening game after picking up a slight knock but returned to the side for the win against D.C. The Argentine striker has trained the rest of the week. Midfielder Carl Robinson is also back training after being rested on Wednesday. Nana Attakora-Gyan has joined up with the squad in South Carolina after finishing international duty with the Canada U-20s.

With a week to go until Toronto open the MLS season at Kansas City Wizards (March 21 at 8:30 p.m. live on Gol TV), coach John Carver is looking for further improvement from his side in the final preseason match. “I wish we could get a complete performance,” Carver said. “We showed some fantastic stuff in the first half against D.C. United and we could have put the game out of sight by halftime. The good thing is that we’re creating those chances. It has been a good week for us and it is a great position to be in having won both games. The players have set the standard and now they’ve got to keep to it. If they drop below the standard they have set then I’ll be sure to let them know about it.”

Real Salt Lake opened the tournament with a 3-0 win against D.C. United, and set up Saturday’s winner-takes-all finale with a 2-1 victory over Charleston, secured with a late strike by Kyle Beckerman.

Toronto FC’s game against Real Salt Lake will be broadcast live online on Toronto FC TV. You can also follow the game and comment on the action in a live match blog. After the TFC game, the Carolina Challenge Cup will close with the final match of the tournament between the Battery and D.C. United.

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TFC, RSL play for Carolina Cup winner
March 12, 2009, 7:26 AM
Filed under: Carolina Challenge Cup, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC

Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake each won their second game in the Carolina Challenge Cup on Wednesday evening at Blackbaud Stadium, setting up a winner-take-all showdown for the tournament title this weekend.

Chad Barrett and Dwayne De Rosario each scored in the first half to lead Toronto FC past D.C. United, 2-1, in the first game of the night, then Real Salt Lake got goals from Clint Mathis in the first half and Kyle Beckerman with 13 minutes left in regulation to beat the host Charleston Battery in the second game.

Toronto FC grabbed a 1-0 on Barrett’s header in the 21st minute. Forward Pablo Vitti won the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and fed De Rosario on the left flank. De Rosario crossed the ball into the six-yard box to Barrett, who headed the ball past D.C. United keeper Milos Kocic for the score.

Toronto FC pushed their advantage to 2-0 on De Rosario’s penalty kick in the 33rd minute. Toronto FC midfielder Rohan Ricketts, who scored the winning goal in TFC’s 2-1 win against Charleston Battery to open the tournament, played a ball into the 18-yard box to midfielder Amado Guevara.

D.C. United defender Dejan Jakovic, who received a red card in United’s tournament-opening 3-0 loss Real Salt Lake on Saturday night, tripped Guevara from behind as Toronto was awarded the penalty kick. De Rosario easily beat Kocic with a hard shot to the lower left post.

Toronto FC nearly made it a three-goal advantage in the 40th minute when Ricketts got behind the D.C. United defense on a breakaway after a beautiful through ball from Vitti. Ricketts easily beat Kocic, who came charging out of his net, but the ball just sailed past the right post to end the threat.

D.C. United wasted little time getting right back into the match in the second half and closed to within 2-1 on Chris Pontius’ goal in the 48th minute. Luciano Emilio got the ball and fed it to Thabiso Khumalo sprinting down the right flank. Khumalo then crossed the ball to Pontius, who chipped it past Toronto FC ‘keeper Greg Sutton for the score.

D.C. United nearly tied the game on Francis Doe’s nifty attempt in the 90th minute. Doe got the ball just outside the 18-yard box, eluded one Toronto FC defender, sidestepped another and then blasted a shot on net. However, the ball ricocheted off the post and Khumalo’s rebound effort sailed over the bar.

Real Salt Lake set up the tournament finale with goals in each half to hand the USL First Division their second defeat of the tournament.

Real Salt Lake had an excellent scoring chance in the first 10 minutes when striker Joe Zewe made a strong run down the left flank. Zewe burst past Charleston defender Frankie Sanfilippo inside the 18-yard box and had a clear shot on net, but his attempt snapped off the crossbar.

Mathis gave RSL a 1-0 lead on his direct kick in the 22nd minute from 22 yards out. Charleston defender Nelson Akwari, who played for RSL from 2005-07, took down Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley just outside the 18-yard box.

Mathis, a former University of South Carolina all-American, twisted a shot past Charleston ‘keeper Keith Wiggans for the score.

Charleston appeared to tie the game in 30th minute when Reynier Alcantara knocked in a shot during a scramble after a corner kick. However, the Battery were called offside on the play and the goal was nullified.

The Battery tied the game up in the 49th minute off of Ian Fuller’s direct kick. Charleston forward Darren Spicer was taken down just outside the 18-yard box by RSL defender Tony Beltran.

With the ball set just to the left of the net, Fuller curled the ball around RSL wall and into the near post past keeper Chris Seitz for the score.

Spicer nearly gave the Battery the lead in the 68th minute after a strong run the left flank. Spicer stepped past RSL defender David Horst and had a clear path to the net from about 12 yards out. Seitz came out for the challenge and got just enough of the ball for the save.

RSL took the lead for good on Beckerman’s blast from 30 yards out in the 77th minute. Beckerman won a ball about 35 yards out, took one dribble, and then hitting a dipping volley past Wiggans for the score.

“We feel like even though he’s a guy that plays a little bit more of a defensive position, he can strike from distance,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said of Beckerman. “Over the course of the season we’re going to be wanting him to score a few more goals.”

In Saturday’s tournament finale, Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake will meet at 5 p.m. ET, followed by D.C. United and the host Battery at 7:15 p.m. in a rematch of the 2008 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final.

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Rival coaches looking forward to test
March 12, 2009, 7:24 AM
Filed under: Carolina Challenge Cup, John Carver, Real Salt Lake, Toronto FC

Toronto FC coach John Carver wasn’t joking when he said he wanted to win this year’s Carolina Challenge Cup.

Toronto FC, which went winless in the event a year ago, posted another strong performance Wednesday night in their 2-1 victory over D.C. United at Blackbaud Stadium.

Toronto FC will face unbeaten Real Salt Lake, a 2-1 winner over the USL First Division’s Charleston Battery, for the tournament crown Saturday night. D.C. United will take on Charleston in a rematch of last year’s U.S. Open Cup Final, in the second game of the doubleheader.

“I was still competitive on the sideline even up until the last minute,” Carver said. “I said I was quite embarrassed this time last year and I wanted to come down here and prove that we’re not a bad club. We were fantastic during stretches in the first half. We played some of the best stuff I’ve seen in a long time.

“All in all, it’s six points in the tournament and another 90 minutes for the guys and we’re exactly where we need to be before the Kansas game (March 21).”

Meanwhile, after getting thumped by RSL 3-0 in last Saturday night’s tournament opener, D.C. United coach Tom Soehn is still searching for answers.

“I thought (Toronto) just outworked and out-competed us in the first half and it showed all over the field,” Soehn said. “I think we had about 10 good minutes when we came out and then it was all them after that.

“In the second half we moved some things around and came out with a little bit of life. I think you use a game like this, a couple of weeks away from the opener, as a learning experience. In the first half you learn what you did wrong and build on what you right in the second half.”

Despite the two victories already this week, Carver could see plenty of room for improvement.

“I wish we could get a complete performance,” Carver said. “We showed some fantastic stuff in the first half and we could have put the game out of sight by halftime. The good thing is that we’re creating those chances.

“I can keep my enthusiasm down by watching the second half. The only thing I can take out of the last 45 minutes is that we dug in our heels and the guys showed some character. They’ve set the standard, not me, and now they’ve got to keep to that standard. If they drop below that standard, then I’ll be sure to let them know about it.”

Carver was especially pleased with the play of forward Pablo Vitti, who proved to be a dangerous weapon on the attack throughout the match.

“A lot of people have seen Pablo Vitti play and have already made opinions of him,” Carver said. “I’ve seen him play against us and I like what I saw from him. We tried to get him here earlier. He hasn’t had a great deal of football here lately. He had 60 minutes today and that’s progress. He had patches of good play.”

While RSL’s win over Charleston won’t make many highlight reels, it was a victory and head coach Jason Kreis will take it.

“The result was good,” Kreis said. “We’re at the point in the preseason when we’re talking about mentality and establishing a winning one, so I think the result was important.

“I don’t think the game itself was top-notch quality. I think that we have a little more to offer in that department, but at the end of the day we were happy with the result.”

Victories by Toronto FC and Real Salt Lake will make for a competitive match on Saturday night, even by preseason tournament standards.

“I think that Toronto is a very, very improved team from last year,” Kreis said. “I’m very impressed watching both of their games during the week. I think it will be a stern test for us and one I’m looking forward to.

“I think when you come into a situation like this it’s more about the lessons that need to be learned. The focus is more on the tactical aspects of the game. But now we’ve put a couple of wins under your belt and we go into this third game, switching gears with attitude that we’re going to win.”

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