[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Good times seem to have finally arrived to Toronto's BMO Field. How good only time will tell but Toronto FC has accomplished something it never did in its first seven seasons, and that's open the season with two wins. Just as important, it's won back its fans who braved a windy afternoon to watch Toronto edge D.C. United, 1-0.
The game played before a sellout crowd of 22,591 marked the home debut of its three offseason signings, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Gilberto. The three Designated Players did not disappoint as they combined to create the game's lone goal on the hour mark. Bradley fed the Brazilian Gilberto, whose shot was blocked by D.C. United keeper Bill Hamid, but the rebound came to Defoe, who scored his third goal in two MLS games.
In his MLS debut a week earlier, Defoe put away his first two chances in the first half, but he could not find the mark in the first half against D.C. United. His best chance came in the 24th minute when he hit the post.
The game marked the MLS debut for Gilberto, who had missed much of the preseason with a hip flexor. His work with Defoe drew praise from Bradley.
"I thought they were both really sharp," said the U.S. international who needed 13 stitches in the back of his head to close a cut caused by a collision with United's Davy Arnaud. "Their movement was really good. I thought as far as playing off of each other they did a really good job. You only have to look at the goal to see. Gilberto makes a great little run and is in on goal and Jermain is right there with him and when the keeper makes the save and Jermain's right there. I think those two are going continue to get better and better."
Even better for Bradley was the support from the Toronto FC fans, whose faith had waned in recent years as the club struggled through season after season of dismissal finishes.
"We all expected it to be good," he said, "but I don’t think anybody really knew that it was going to be this good. When you’re standing on the field before the game and the entire stadium was singing the Canadian national anthem that was special."
VIDEO: Bradley runs over referee
The downside to the game was poor condition of the field after the long Toronto winter.
"The field was not conducive to playing any sort of football.," said Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen. "You saw most of the attacks from turnovers."
D.C. United coach Ben Olsen concurred though he would not blame the conditions for the loss, which extended its league winless streak to 14 games dating back to last season.
"It was pretty poor," he said. "It was as bad as I’ve ever seen in MLS. But both teams had to deal with it and I thought that we actually dealt with it very well."