[MLS] Toronto FC put aside its problems long enough to defeat expansion Philadelphia, 2-1, in its home opener and first match on grass at BMO Field Thursday night. Goals on a free kick and a penalty kick by Dwayne De Rosario subdued the Union, which played with 10 men following a straight red card to Danny Califf in the 34th minute after he forearmed Julian de Guzman as the TFC midfielder chased a languid back pass by Califf to goalie Chris Seitz. Left back Jordan Harvey tucked away a great diagonal cross from Roger Torres to get Philly on the board just before halftime. Of the many talking points of this match here are three of the most compelling from Toronto's first win of the season:
CHRIS-TASTROPHE. For the second straight game, Union keeper Chris Seitz erred badly. After Califf’s ejection, De Rosario drove a low free kick from about 25 yards that Seitz had covered yet somehow the ball squeezed through his right glove and trickled over the goal line. He gave away a penalty kick in the 81st minute by tripping TFC’s O’Brian White; though he just managed to get a touch on the ball he also wiped out the forward with the ball still in play.
As an expansion team, the Union has more leeway with its young goalkeeper. But consistent flubs that leak goals will undermine the confidence of his teammates, and no team can afford to tolerate that for very long. The Union, despite going down to 10 men, played well enough to escape with a point.
CANN CAN DO. Defender Adrian Cann started in place of Nick Garcia and though he did get stretched a couple of times by the Union’s gifted young midfielder Roger Torres, he won a lot of balls in the air and kept up a steady stream of instructions and commands. A very disjointed TFC midfield coughed up the ball time and time again in the first half yet Cann’s solid play in the middle blunted numerous Union attempts to take advantage.
TFC heads west to play Colorado Sunday in altitude and on just two days’ rest. How well Cann and Co. can withstand the Rapids formidable attacking duo of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings will say a lot more about their prospects than a shaky win against an expansion team.
GO WITH DE GUZMAN. Sputtering midfield play gave Julian de Guzman little opportunity to direct the attack; when he dropped deeper in the second half, with De Rosario in support of substitute forwards O’Brian White and Chad Barrett, the TFC attack livened up. He and Torres brought some class and poise to a typically robust MLS match.
De Guzman usually played a holding role during his time in Europe, perhaps because he wasn’t one of his team’s most skillful players. With TFC, he is, and hit several excellent passes to the flanks that sparked promising sequences. He also got close enough to goal to strike a dipping left-footed shot on frame that a diving Seitz swatted aside for a corner. If de Guzman works the middle in tandem with a player like Nick LaBrocca or Sam Cronin, and has De Rosario and a forward or two to play with, his touch and vision can produce chances, no matter what position he's played in the past.