By: Mike Newell
In front of an announced crowd of 16,892 at BMO Field Toronto FC put forth it’s most dominating performance of the 2010 season, defeating 5 time CONCACAF Champions League winners Cruz Azul of Mexico 2-1. First half goals from Martin Saric and newest DP signing Mista sealed the three points for the MLS side.
Although the scoreline was impressive, what was more impressive was how TFC dominated play through out the 90 minutes. The reds played with an urgency that has been rarely seen from the club this year, and key players such as Dewayne De Rosario and Julian De Guzman played their best football of the season.
De Rosario’s excellent movement in the first half opened up holes for Misa to cause havoc for the Mexican defenders, as his free header that was saved by the keeper set up the Saric goal within the first three minutes of the match. Mista found himself with another chance in the dying minutes of the first half in which he slotted the ball home just beyond the full reach of Yosgart Gutiérrez. After the match TFC head coach Preki commented regarding Mista that “We always knew he was a quality player, “It was just a matter of getting him fit and healthy and ready for all the games coming up now pretty fast. He gave us 60-plus minutes, good minutes.” Mista has been a bit of an odd fellow for the club even since they signed him. Preki has used him in several different area of the pitch including an attacking midfield role, up front or as a potential winger. It became clear what kind of talent he can provide up front for the club especially with O’Brian White seeming to have lost a bit of confidence in front of goal.[picappgallerysingle id=”9563207”]
It must be stated that the Crul Azul players underestimated their opponents Tuesday night. At the half time the Cruz Azul players looked shocked to be 2 down by halftime. Varying reports claim the team’s scouting report was not up to date, cautioning the players against exerting to much energy on BMO’s plastic pitch in case of injury. Evidently the club had not been told that the field had been replaced with the real stuff at the beginning of the year.
Whatever the case may be, Crul Azul did not take to the games as quickly as their hosts, even though they had a clear class advantage. The second half was played at a higher tempo for the visitors but they could not penetrate the Toronto backline lead by Canadian International center backs Nana Attakora and Adrian Cann. Who played arguably their best game as a defensive pairing. Cristian Gimenez’s curling free kick in the 90th minute to beat TFC number two Jon Conway was the lone bright spot for Cruz Azul.
Credit must also be given to Toronto Head coach Preki who got his tactics all right as he started off playing a flexible 4-4-2 which at times floated into a (4-3-1-2) with De Rosario tucked behind Mista and White. This seemed to give the Mexican club problems as they could not handle De Rosario’s movement or Mista’s clever flicks and runs. In the second half as some players started to run out of gas, he reverted to a more defensive 4-5-1 set up to deal with the increased pace the visitors put on the pitch for the second half.
For Toronto, who when to great lengths to down play their chances of winning put together their most complete performance of the season. However there will be little time for back slapping as their most important league match of the season comes up on Saturday, as New York comes to BMO on the back end of a home and home series. With New York 5 points clear of TFC for that all important second place spot in the East, Preki will have to prepare his squad for the vastly improved Red Bulls, Who will be coming into the game with some confidence having beaten TFC 1-0 last week at home. Saturday will be Toronto’s true measuring stick to see where they stand with the top clubs in MLS.
For now though Toronto FC can enjoy a short if not sweet club milestone.