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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AFTER 90: Reds put the squeeze on FC Edmonton's NutCan dream

I know... rubbing oil in the wounds

On the same night that saw Real Salt Lake trying to become the 2010/2011 CONCACAF Champions League Winners; the quest for a berth in the 2011/2012 version began for Toronto FC in Edmonton. Yes, The Nutrilite Canadian Championship aka "The NutCan" is back - now with 50% more knockout action! TFC, as reigning champions, drew the lowest seed - NASL newcomers FC Edmonton - and took to the field in the aging orange monolith known as Commonwealth Stadium. Would Aron Winter take the NutCan seriously? Would Toronto's Dutch style match Edmonton's Dutch style? Would someone tell us why FC Edmonton adopted the nickname "The Monties"? Let's go to the artificial pitch where ankles rarely return...
1' - Literally dozens of Albertans huddle in the bowels of Commonwealth as cold rain blows sideways over the snow banks (!!!) on the sidelines. Kick-off...
2' - If you squint it looks like Liverpool vs. Cardiff City. But you have to squint hard.
5' - Both team feeling each other out. Neither looking very Dutch.
8' - Mikael "Watch" Yourassowsky making some probing runs on the left side
12' - FCE midfielder Chris Lemire curls a free kick that beat Stefan Frei easily but hit the side netting. TFC got very lucky
20' - Richard Eckersley drives into the box and crosses a beautiful ball in front of the FCE keeper but Oscar Cordon scuffs his opportunity
22' - RED CARD: FC Edmonton MF Shaun Saiko gets straight red on a tough challenge. Wouldn't have been a red in many matches. Arguably a 50/50
27' - Alan Gordon really is "Yankee Dichio"
28' - Maicon Santos is his un-Brazilian alter-ego "Mike Sanders" as he scuffs a golden opportunity in the FCE box
33' - FC Edmonton somehow look far more offensively threatening since going down to 10 men. A better side would have punished TFC
34' - GOAL: Mike Sanders turns back into Maicon Santos and slots home a goal from a nice Joao Plata pass against the run of play.
42' - Nathan Sturgis AND Nick Soolsma shown on the bench - they're still alive!
45' - TFC defenders reading Edmonton's long range attempts well. In other news - Dan Gargan isn't playing
46' - Just to make me look stupid: SUB: Dan Gargan in for Richard "By" Eckersley who had a good first half. Recent TFC trialist Eddy Sidra on for FCE
48' - GOAL: Another great little Plata pass to Alan Gordon sees the ball pinball to Oscar Cordon only to return to Alan "Yankee Dichio" Gordon to sweep home the loose ball
52' - Joao Plata has been an absolute menace to the FCE defensive line. El Mosquito
58' - SUB: Alan Gordon out - Jacob "Amish Beckham" Peterson in
61' - GOAL: Terrible clearance by FCE goalkeeper Rein Baart lands at Maicon Santos' unmarked feet who slots it home with ease
65' - SUB: Joao Plata's best game in red ends with the return of the long lost Nick Soolsma
67' - Edmonton's D Paul Hamilton is a very pretty lady
70' - The FC Edmonton shirt sponsor "Sears Financing" makes me want to buy a La-Z-Boy recliner on layaway
74' - FCE Alex Surprenant puts one just over Stefan Frei's crossbar from a free kick
80' - Just heard that they couldn't fit tonight's crowd into FCE's actual home ground Foote Field. Is it a stadium for ants?
82' - TFC taking it into "ole" time
86' - Keith Gretzky can't be happy about this
89' - Can hear individual conversations at Commonwealth Stadium
90+ - Final whistle echoes through the stands putting FC Edmonton out of it's misery
Aron Winter couldn't have written a better introduction to The NutCan. The manager was able to rotate much of the squad while grabbing three valuable away goals. FC Edmonton showed some very workmanlike qualities early on and TFC indeed had some trouble breaking them down, but the difference in divisional class did show as the game wore on. The controversial red card changed the face of the match but TFC always looked like leaving Commonwealth with a win. The big three goal tally means Winter can put a very rotational squad out for the home leg next week as The Monties will be hard-pressed to score four at BMO Field. In the end, a win that TFC supporters wanted and a welcome addition of some lethal form to finish off a wounded opponent.
PLAYER RATINGS: Stefan Frei 6.5 / Richard Eckersley 7 / Ty Harden 6 / Dicoy Williams 6.5 / Danleigh Borman 6 / Tony Tchani 6 / Maicon Santos 7 / Oscar Cordon 6 / Mikael Yourassowsky 6.5 / Alan Gordon 7 / Joao Plata 7 / SUBS: Dan Gargan 6 / Jacob Peterson 5.5 / Nick Soolsma 6
TFC GOAT OF THE MATCH: Eddy Sidra? He was briefly a Red!
MATCH IN FIVE WORDS: Canadian. Sparsely populated. Fair result.

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