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Gordon scores again as TFC draws with Quakes

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Sam Cronin's mistake led to Alan Gordon's goal.
Last week, Toronto FC and Chivas USA played to a 1-1 draw at BMO Field. On Saturday night, the Reds drew 1-1 with the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Same scorelines, two radically different feelings. Saturday’s draw represented a decent result for a TFC team still learning the intricacies of the 4-3-3 system, securing its first road point of the season. Last week, a home draw against a poor Chivas side was a missed opportunity, considering that the Reds slept through the first 20 minutes and were lucky to be down only 1-0.

Alan Gordon, who week after week looks like he is trying harder and harder to win a Robert Pires lookalike contest, capitalized on a mistake by former Red Sam Cronin to open the scoring in Santa Clara, Calif. It marked the second game in a row that the former Chivas forward has capitalized in front of the opposition goal. But Simon Dawkins, on loan from Tottenham, levelled matters eight minutes before halftime after a wonderful give-and-go with striker Chris Wondolowski that left three Toronto FC defenders flat-footed.

But, until injury forced him to the sidelines in the 62nd minute, TFC got a massive boost from the play of forward Alen Stevanovic, on loan from Torino. Stevanovic made nifty runs down the left side, and he was the catalyst for Gordon’s goal. His touch was excellent, his passing and decision-making were crystal clear. TFC fans can only hope that he is ready to play Wednesday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Stevanovic worked the ball down the left side, got to the touch line and hit the ball low into San Jose’s penalty area. Defender Danleigh Borman, joining the play, got a touch to it, popping the ball into the air near the Earthquakes’ goal. Cronin moved to head it out of danger; but, rather than nodding it off to the side of the goal, he pushed the ball right in front of goal, where Gordon was able to get to it and then slam the ball home.

Cronin was involved in the other major incident in the first half. After the whistle had gone, TFC midfielder Tony Tchani followed through on a very late two-footed challenge. There are refs in MLS who would have reached for red on the play. Tchani and Cronin squared up, earning each a yellow.

Referee Ramon Hernandez would produce a key yellow late in the game, not buying a pratfall from Wondolowski — the reigning scoring champ in MLS — after he was challenged by sub Julian de Guzman in the TFC penalty area. Instead of pointing to the spot, Hernandez have Wondo the yellow for the dive.

Wondolowski did have two golden chances to score the winner earlier in the second half. A San Jose counterattack caught TFC flat at the back. Khari Stephenson slid the ball to Wondolowski, who had a clear shot on goal. TFC keeper Stefan Frei blocked the shot, but the rebound came right back to Wondo. His second effort was stopped by the face of TFC defender Ty Harden.

Jamaican forward Ryan Johnson also had a great chance to score the winner. He was able to split the TFC central defensive pairing of Harden and Adrian Cann — centre back Nana Attakora went off at halftime — and was in the process of rounding Frei when he fell over the ball.
If TFC coach Aron Winter would have worries from this game, it was how many times that Earthquakes midfielder Bobby Convey was able to make something out of nothing. He skipped past defenders, was able to turn the young Tchani inside out a few times. Yes, Convey is one of the best MLS has to offer; but he matched Stevanovic step for step when it came to running at defenders with menace.

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