[MLS] A match that was more of a training exercise, with reserves on the BMO Field surface and liberal substitution rules in effect, produced a 4-3 shootout win for Argentine team River Plate against Toronto FC Wednesday in a friendly in front of 20,005 fans.
The exhibition, dubbed the Carlsberg Cup as an annual event, fell at a busy time for TFC, with an important MLS match against defending champion Columbus set for Saturday and both legs of its Concacaf Champions' League series to be played within the next two weeks. Coach Chris Cummins didn't start many of his regulars, yet used virtually free substitution to give at least some time to a lot of players.
Brian Edwards and Gabe Gala played with the first team for the first time in a competitive match this season, Marco Velez and Emmanuel Gomez earned rare starts, and recent signing Ali Gerba made his first start for the club after playing for Canada in the Gold Cup. O'Brian White, taken with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2009 SuperDraft, also made his first appearance following a long recovery from a torn ACL he suffered in college.
TFC didn't muster up a shot until the 41st minute as River Plate controlled most of the play without seriously testing goalkeeper Edwards. Pablo Vitti, handed the captain's armband for this match against his countrymen, centered a ball that Carl Robinson headed on goal. Keeper Leandro Cichizola saved, and defender Maximiliano Coronel blocked Gala's attempt to stuff in the rebound. Chichizola also denied Gerba, who netted twice for Canada at the Gold Cup, from close range.
White came on as a halftime sub, and several players - including Vitti and Jim Brennan - departed and re-appeared as both coaches swapped players freely. Matias Abelairas nearly won the match for River in the 78th minute but Edwards swatted his shot over the crossbar.
The liberal rules persisted until regulation ended with three minutes of stoppage time. River finished with a 15-6 edge in shots. Each team converted three of its first five penalty kicks; in sudden-death, substitute Gustavo Fernandez converted, and Velez's nerves faltered.
July 22 in Toronto
Toronto FC 0, River Plate 0. (River won 4-3 on penalties).
Penalty kicks: Gerba (goal), Dichio (saved), Vitti (high), Barrett (goal), Garcia (goal), Velez (high); Abelairas (goal), Lamela (goal), Fernandez (crossbar), Villalba (high), Domingo (goal), G. Fernandez (goal).
Toronto FC -- Edwards, Velez, Brennan, Wynne, Gala, Gomez, Robinson, Guevara, DeRosario, Vitti, Gerba . Subs: Barrett, Dichio, White, Garcia, Attakora-Gyan.
River Plate - Chichizola, Musacchio, Archubi, Coronel, Domingo, Orban, Abelairas, Afranchino, Gil, Diaz, Bou. Subs: G. Fernanez, Villalba, A. Fernandez, Lamela, Pezella.
Referee: Silvio Petrescu.