TFC jump into playoff race after DC win

Toronto FC Update 2009   By Aldwyn McGill
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Rapid fall for Toronto FC in Colorado  By Pat Rooney / Staff

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Toronto FC knew it had a golden opportunity to boost its playoff position before the kickoff of Saturday’s match at Colorado. Yet, for the third consecutive match, the club’s scoring touch was completely absent.
The Reds suffered a 1-0 loss on the road against the host Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, denying Toronto’s bid to leap New England and D.C. United in the Eastern Conference standings.

Toronto has now gone without a goal in its past four games and has posted only two wins in its past nine league matches, going 2-4-3 during that span. The club has been held scoreless four times over that stretch after suffering only three shutouts in its first 15 contests.

Toronto (8-9-7) has not scored since getting a tally from O’Brian White in the 65th minute of a 2-0 win against D.C. United on Aug. 15. Since then, Toronto FC has suffered a 2-0 loss at Chivas USA and posted a scoreless draw against Seattle before Saturday’s loss in Colorado.

Rapids forward Conor Casey made amends for a missed penalty kick in the first half by scoring the winning goal in the 52nd minute, heading a shot past Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei off a crossing pass from Jacob Peterson. It was Casey’s league-leading 12th goal of the season.

The Rapids dominated possession for much of the first half, outshooting Toronto FC 7-2 during the period, but tight marking by Toronto’s back line against Casey and fellow forward Omar Cummings held Colorado in check.

Toronto’s only decent scoring chance during the first half occurred in the 10th minute when Pablo Vitti found open space near the top of the box, but Rapids ‘keeper Matt Pickens was able to smother Vitti’s low shot.

Toronto FC escaped falling into an early hole when Casey misfired on a penalty kick in the 25th minute. Toronto was whistled for a hand ball in the box during the possession battle following a Mehdi Ballouchy corner kick, but Casey’s attempt deflected off the crossbar, keeping the match scoreless at halftime.

Toronto’s fleeting chance at a comeback essentially was dashed in the 76th minute when midfielder Amadou Sanyang was issued a red card after receiving his second yellow card of the match, forcing Toronto to play a man down during the waning minutes. Defender Adrian Serioux also was issued a red card ejection in the 85th minute after a hard takedown of Cummings just outside the penalty box.

Toronto FC played without second-leading goalscorer Amado Guevara, also the club’s leader in assists, who was called up to the Honduran national team.

The teams complete their home-and-home set next week in Toronto
 TFC Coach Cummins paint Reds playoffs picture

With eight games remaining in Toronto FC regular season and only eight of the 15 teams making the MLS playoffs, TFC coach Chris Cummins has set a target of 12 more points or an equivalent of four wins for the Reds to make the MLS playoffs.


However, there is a serious twist to what seems like a reasonable objective by Cummins since five of the Reds remaining eight games are away from BMO Field where the Reds have had more than their share of troubles.


The Reds is in third place in the Eastern division with 30 points and while trailing Columbus (39) and Chicago (38) they are tied on points with fourth place New England Revolutions which has two games in hand on Toronto, and one point ahead of DC United who has 29 points.


With the top two teams in each conference qualifying as the top seeds, Coach Cumming and the Reds will have to focus on the wild card spots by finishing as one of the best remaining four teams base on total points, regardless of conference.


Cummins is confident that his target of 42 points will put the Reds into post season play for the first time in the club’s history, and if he is correct, it would be very interesting to watch how he  utilize his players to gain consistency.


In lieu of Cummins optimism, the Reds lost to Chivas USA 2-0 last Saturday after defeating DC United by the same margin of victory the week before. Player suspension is adding to Cummins woes but I feel that the Reds can make the playoff if he uses the available players effectively.


Much is being made about the Reds missing Jim Brennan play against Chivas USA, but Carl Robinson and Adrian Serioux will be missing against Seattle on Saturday due suspension for an accumulation of 5 yellow cards and the team still has to gain a result.


From my vantage point coach Cummins is sending mix signals in his explanation of the team inconsistent play.


“We know we have to improve on the road and need to take points away from home if we are going to get in the playoffs,” said Cummins. “We know we need four wins between now and the end of the season. If we get three points out of the next two road games then we are back on track.”


That statement was all good but Cummins confused the issue when he said “It was evident last weekend when Jimmy was out that we missed having a natural left footer”. Who is responsible for the selection and player substitution?


Cummins continued, “With Carl and Adrian missing it will give other lads the opportunity to come in and play and try and show what they can do. All of the lads are aware when they are close to a suspension, but you can’t tell them to go out and play not to get booked.”


Cummins answers seemed to be laced with political correctness and this is the time that he has to step out of the box and manage the team. The Reds will have to show some character since their next two games are against teams that could eliminate them from playoff contention.


More than anything Coach Cummins have to insist on better positional play from his team especially in the defensive zone which has been the Reds Achilles heel. It is a given that in road games players have to hang tough and forward Pablo Vitti, will have to step up in this regard.


From my vantage point the Reds next three games against Seattle and a home and away against Colorado Rapids could be a defining moment in the 2009 season. The Reds will have to defeat Colorado and contain Seattle to have a realistic chance to the playoffs.


Although there is a log jam in the Eastern Division, Seattle, Colorado, LA Galaxy, Chivas USA and Real Sault Lake from the Western Division seems to have a lock on the four wild card spots.


In the West, Houston Dynamo is all but assured of a playoff spot with 40 points while Chivas USA 33 points with three games in hand on the other teams is in the best position for the next top seeded spot in the Division.


LA Galaxy with 35 points from 23 games, Seattle Sounders with 33 points from 22 games, Colorado with 30 points from 21 games and Real Sault Lake with 29 points are all obstacles to Toronto FC’s projected 42-point path to the last 4 wildcard playoff spots.


The Reds-Seattle Sounders match on Saturday will be on CBC with a 4:00 p.m. ET kickoff time.

Reds end five-game winless skid behind youthful spark

By Mark Polishuk /  08/15/2009 9:23 PM

TORONTO — With a starting XI that included six players at or under age 23 (three of whom were making their MLS starts), it was a young Toronto FC side that delivered one of the team’s biggest wins of the season on Saturday at BMO Field. TFC’s 2-0 result against division rivals D.C. United was a crucial victory that ended a five-game winless skid for the Reds and gave them much-needed momentum going into a three-game road trip.
“We said all week, we’ve got 10 games left and today we wanted to win to set us up and get us ready for the final push to the playoffs,” said team captain Jim Brennan. “It was very hot out on the pitch and it got a bit scrappy at times, but the guys dug deep, had a couple of chances, finished them and we walked away with three points.”

Brennan was one of the few veterans on the pitch for Toronto, as TFC interim head coach Chris Cummins went with the younger lineup due to some regular starters scratched or on the bench due to injury or suspension. Cummins said earlier in the week that he was hoping that the infusion of young blood would spark the Reds, and judging by Saturday’s result, the tactic worked.

“I said I was going to mix it up,” Cummins said. “I saw enough in the young players to put them in and that’s been my background [as a youth coach at Watford], seeing that talent, that enthusiasm, those legs and being patient with them. … I thought they were outstanding.”

Emmanuel Gomez, Amadou Sanyang and O’Brian White had a combined 33 minutes of MLS experience between them headed into the United game, but the rookie trio nevertheless started at center back, center midfield and striker, respectively. Though Sanyang wasn’t able to play for TFC until he turned 18 on August 1 and White hadn’t recovered from an ACL injury until late July, Cummins said that the main reason the youngsters hadn’t seen much action was due to a lack of exposure to an actual game environment.

All three saw playing time against River Plate and Real Madrid in two recent friendlies, and thus Cummins finally saw enough to be comfortable throwing the rookies into the deep end of the battle for the MLS Cup Playoffs.

“In those two friendlies the young kids showed they can play,” Cummins said. “They’re going to get their opportunities now and as long as they keep going well they’ll stay on the team.”

Gomez and Sanyang, the two young Gambian stars, played a big part in allowing Toronto to claim its fourth clean sheet of the season. Gomez, veteran Adrian Serioux and 20-year-old Nana Attakora (returning from a hamstring injury) held steady on the back line with Brennan providing both support on the left side and moving forward to spark some plays. When holding midfielder Carl Robinson left the game at halftime, Sanyang became a greater presence behind the ball as well.

It was White, though, who provided the biggest impact in the match. With TFC holding a 1-0 lead after 65 minutes, White gave his team some breathing room with his first career goal. The forward took a short pass from Attakora, made a slight move on his defender to give himself some room and then fired a shot into the right corner.

White’s goal was his first on any level since last autumn as a member of the University of Connecticut. The young striker tore his left ACL in a match against Marquette last October and went through a long rehabilitation process before finally taking the field during the River Plate friendly on July 22.

Pegged as a possible first overall pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, White’s injury allowed him to fall to his hometown Reds at the fourth pick of the first round. Playing at home meant that White had more than 30 members of his extended family in attendance at BMO Field on Saturday to see his first goal.

White was mobbed by teammates after his strike, and he said he was just as happy to add to his club’s lead as he was to finally get his first professional goal.

“One goal we know they could score that at any time, so to score the second goal, it gave us a little bit of leverage,” White said. “They [the other TFC players] saw what I went through with my therapy. I’m thankful for their support, it means a lot.

“I got my first goal, it really felt good. I have to give thanks to the training staff who put in a lot of work with me. I’m very grateful for it.”

Toronto’s other two first-round picks from the 2009 draft (No. 2 overall Sam Cronin and No. 13 overall Stefan Frei) also acquitted themselves well on Saturday, with Cronin picking up an assist on the opening goal from Dwayne De Rosario, and Frei making a fairly easy four saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

Cronin and Frei have become such fixtures in the TFC lineup this season that it’s hard to think of them still as rookies, but they were also part of the under-23 sextet that carried the Reds to victory. Cummins also gave credit to his veterans for providing invaluable instruction at various points throughout the match.

“Of course it’s a risk putting in six under-23s, but they’ve got legs, they’ve got energy and to play in MLS you need that energy,” Cummins said. “You’ve that experience in the right places as well, Adrian talking to Nana and Gomez, Robbo talking to Amadou and Sammy Cronin playing out of position again, doing a good job.”

The win was just TFC’s fourth all-time victory in the months of July and August (4-11-8), a traditional summer swoon that has been in part caused by a lack of depth to combat injuries and the inevitable fatigue that comes from playing in warmer weather. With the young players providing both fresh legs and quality minutes, however, it gives the Reds confidence that this will be the season the team breaks through to the postseason.

Cummins couldn’t help but aim his praise at the bigger picture when talking about how his young stars played against United on Saturday.

“There’s a good group of young players and the young players are the future of the club,” Cummins said. “If they go on and perform like that, then this club is really going to kick on.”

Toronto FC acquires Garcia from San Jose and the rights for Ali Gerba

Toronto FC Media  06/09/2009 2:30

 Toronto FC announced Tuesday that they have acquired defender Nick Garcia from the San Jose Earthquakes, along with the discovery rights to Canadian forward Ali Gerba. In exchange, San Jose receives Toronto’s 3rd round selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. As per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. To make room on the roster for Garcia, Toronto FC goalkeeper Greg Sutton has been released.

“First and foremost we want to thank Greg for everything he has done for this club,” said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston. “Greg has always been the consummate professional, he was the first goalkeeper signed by this club, and this was a difficult decision to make. We wish him all the best.”


Garcia, 30, is currently playing in his 10th season in Major League Soccer. As one of the league’s most experienced defenders, he joined San Jose in their expansion season making his debut with the team on April 3, 2008 and helped the team post the fourth-best goals against average in the league. Starting in all 24 games he appeared in last season, he logged 2,151 minutes and added two assists.


“We are very happy to bring in a defender with Nick’s experience,” said Johnston. “We tried to bring him in before and finally we were able to get a deal done. He plays 90 minutes every game, he’s quick, and he knows this league inside and out. On Ali Gerba, he’s another one that’s been on our radar, and we look forward to sitting down with him and getting a contract signed as soon as we can.”


Prior to joining the Earthquakes, Garcia began his MLS career in 2000 with the Kansas City Wizards. It was a stand-out season for the rookie after he played every minute of the Wizards seven postseason matches to help them on to victory in the MLS Cup final over the Chicago Fire. That year the team was captained by current Toronto FC manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston.

In 2003, Garcia made his 100th career MLS start, becoming the 100th player in MLS history to reach that mark and also the youngest to start in 100 games.


Internationally, the defender has six caps with the U.S. National Team making his last appearance for the Americans on January 18, 2004 against Denmark. He was a member of both the 1997 U.S. U-17 World Championship team, and the U-20 World Cup team where he finished with 20 career caps and 46 appearances.

Garcia will arrive in Toronto this week and be available for comment after Toronto FC training on Thursday. Media should arrive no later than 11:15 a.m. Manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston will also be available for comment on these moves during training on Thursday.

Nick Garcia #6
Position: Defender
Height: 5-10
Weight: 175 lbs.
Born: April 9, 1979 in Plano, Texas
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Last Club: Kansas City Wizards (MLS)
College: Indiana
Citizenship: USA


 TFC appoint Chris Cummins as Interim coach 

TFC Media department: Toronto FC announced that Chris Cummins has been named interim head coach after the resignation of John Carver. As a result of the promotion of Cummins, Nick Dasovic takes over as firstassistant coach. The remainder of the staff will remain unchanged.

“We are pleased to announce that Chris has accepted the role of interim head coach,” said manager, director of soccer Mo Johnston. “After speaking with the coaching staff, we felt this was the best decision for the team moving forward. I want to thank all our coaches as it’s been a tough few days for all of us, however we’ve got a great group here and we’ll continue towards our goal of making the playoffs.”  FC announced that Chris Cummins has been named interim head coach after the resignation of John Carver. As a result of the promotion of Cummins, Nick Dasovic takes over as first assistant coach.