Despite its MLS status, Toronto FC came out third best amongst the three Canadian professional teams last year, but got its 2009 international program off to a
good start by beating Vancouver, 1-0, in the opening game of the Nutrilite Championships, which determine Canada's entrant into the Concacaf Champions League.
Wednesday at BMO Field,
headed home a great cross from Dwayne De Rosario
in the third minute to give TFC a 1-0 lead it held the rest of the way. Chad Barrett
squandered three good scoring opportunities as Toronto, sparked by a lively and inventive De Rosario, took the play to Vancouver, the 2008 USL-1 champion, and finished with a 12-7 edge in shots.
Though the Whitecaps rarely threatened they nearly stole a tie in the 86 th minute when Marlon James
dribbled down the right flank and fired a skidding shot along the turf
that required an acrobatic save by keeper Stefan Frei
. In stoppage time Frei bobbled a high ball in a crowded goalmouth, but a teammate came to the rescue and belted the ball out of
the danger zone.
By failing to win either of its two home games in last year's competition, TFC finished second in the three-team group to Montreal, which advanced all the way to the
quarterfinals of the Concacaf Champions Cup as the lone Canadian representative. Toronto also lost at home to Vancouver, 1-0, on a Martin Nash penalty kick, and needing to beat Montreal at home in the
final game to finish on top, instead tied, 1-1.
TFC plays at home again Wednesday against Montreal in its next Nutrilite match. The double-round robin competition concludes June 18.