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Thursday, May 19, 2011

AFTER 90: "V" is for (sort of) "Victory"

Take that Stan Smyl

On a night where majority of Vancouverdelphians (it's what they're called - read it in a book) were watching the Canucks, preparing to overturn cars in celebration/despair and/or colour coordinating their Lululemon pants, the Nutrilite Canadian Championship took to the pitch. Toronto FC revisited the scene of its 2011 opening match disaster with an eye on taking a 1st Leg advantage in the Final against Whitecaps.
With the announcement from CONCACAF earlier today that the winner would get a generous draw against the Nicaraguan Champion in the preliminary, as well as the chance to be in a fairly weak Group C, the NutCan suddenly became that bit more attractive. Would Vancouver remember they had a football team? Would Dan Gargan get beaten down the wing before kick-off? Do these yoga shorts make me look British Columbian? To Empire Field!
1' - Pre-game highlight package reminds us that Dwayne De Rosario once played for Toronto. How odd. Kick-off...
2' - The power of Stan Smyl as Empire Field's usual full house has been Canucked
3' - Whitecaps controlling early as Terry Dunfield shoots just wide of Stefan Frei
5' - Dan Gargan makes a good tackle AND stays on his feet. Maybe Sunday is the apocalypse after all.
8' - VWFC's Shea Salinas eating Gargan alive on the wing. Apocalypse cancelled - out of your bunker
12' - Disappointing that Whitecaps aren't wearing giant "V" kits a la disco-era Canucks
15' - Is a dominatrix the groundskeeper at Empire Field? So much black rubber in the field turf
20' - Nick Soolsma delivering many decent crosses but no finisher to speak of... again
23' - Empire Field security removing supporters for throwing granola and Birkenstocks during Toronto FC corner
29' - Stefan Frei the only thing keeping TFC in a match as Camilo tears The Reds' defence open but is stopped by The Goalblerone
32' - SUB: Jacob Peterson picks up an injury and has to come off for Matt Gold. Bob de Klerk - what do you say? "I love... Gooooold!"
36' - Maicon Santos and Joao Plata invisible so far. Who knew Vancouver had such good Latin nightclubs?
41' - Empire Field's plastic carpet eating hamstrings like the proverbial fat kid on cake
43' - Frei plays chicken with Whitecaps' resident bully Eric Hassli and luckily gets the call his way
44' - Nick Soolsma with a sharp volley at VWFC keeper Jay Nolly - the Dutchman has been the only offensive spark in the 1st Half
45' - Referee ends the half with Vancouver in the ascendancy
45' - SUB: Tony Tchani out for Oscar Cordon as 2nd Half starts
46' - Adrian Cann gets away with what many refs would have called a penalty kick after a rash tackle
47' - Eric Hassli blasts one against the post. Toronto FC has come out in their regular 2nd Half "Nap Time" formation.
50' - TFC's policy of downing warm milk at halftime needs to be questioned
51' - YELLOW CARD on TFC's Dicoy Williams after a crashing tackle
52' - Camilo nails a strike that hit's Frei's crossbar. Pathetic play from a lazy Toronto FC
59' - Davide Chiumiento gets the ball from a terrible Adrian Cann clearance attempt and puts it just over the TFC goal. It should be 3-0 Vancouver by now
60' - There must be some ruined pairs of Lululemons in the crowd
64' - GOAL: Eric Hassli curls a beautiful strike past the outstretched hands of Frei
67' - Frustrating that young Oscar Cordon is the only player on TFC showing any effort in the 2nd Half. Veterans are MIA
71' - Cann with a half-chance to grab a sneaky goal after a TFC corner ends up in a messy goalmouth scramble
72' - GOAL: The true meaning of "against the run of play" as Maicon Santos appears for the first time tonight to deflect a Soolsma cross past Jay Nolly and giving TFC a valuable away goal. Shocking!
76' - SUB: Joao Plata out in a "defensive" substitution as Ty Harden lumbers into the match
77' - Whitecaps owner Steve Nash would have loved this if he hadn't have gone to the Canucks game instead
79' - The Reds opting for a very un-Dutch 7-3-1 formation
82'- Hipsters drinking smoothies angrily
85' - Gargan gets away with a ref's gift as he arguably back-passes to Stefan Frei
87' - Sections of crowd almost too upset to smoke their weed. Almost.
88' - Stefan Frei doing what he has to do every game. Making giant saves in the final minutes to preserve results
90' - Dan Gargan doing what Dan Gargans are meant to do. Waste lots of time.
90'+ - Alain Rochat comes within inches of giving Whitecaps a very late win off of his head. The ref blows the whistle to end the match and give Toronto a very gratuitous escape
So many times have we seen Toronto FC deserve a bit better but still leave with nothing from a match. Tonight, The Reds truly stole a "victory" from the jaws of a potential disaster. After scrapping through a 1st Half which was fairly even, TFC came out in the 2nd looking as if they had all taken Nyquil in the dressing room. Vancouver pounced on TFC as any team would do but were only able to score a single goal. While most, including yours truly, expected further folding from Aron Winter's squad they managed to find a little on-field presence and steal the precious away goal. Some defensive steel held off a superior Whitecaps for the rest of the match but in the end it's TFC looking like the victors and returning home for the 2nd Leg only needing a 0-0 draw or better to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.
Stefan Frei 7 / Richard Eckersley 6.5 / Adrian Cann 6 / Dicoy Williams 6 / Dan Gargan 5.5 / Jacob Peterson INJ / Tony Tchani 6 / Julian de Guzman 6 / Nick Soolsma 7 / Maicon Santos 6 / Joao Plata 5.5 / SUBS: Matt Gold 6 / Oscar Cordon 6.5 / Ty Harden -
TFC MAN OF THE MATCH: Stefan Frei - Honourable mention to Nick Soolsma in his best TFC match
TFC GOAT OF THE MATCH: Dan Gargan - sorry if I'm mean
You don't always have to be good to be lucky. Discuss

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