Home MLS Toronto FC Missed chances, balls cleared off the line; New England’s wastefulness allows TFC to win again

Missed chances, balls cleared off the line; New England’s wastefulness allows TFC to win again


It might be the ugliest two-game win streak in the history of win streaks, but when a franchise is trying to rebuild out of of the depths of a generation-long malaise, every victory is gorgeous.

Last Saturday, Toronto FC needed two late strikes in a torrential downpour to overcome the Columbus Crew and win its first game at BMO Field in over a year. And, on Sunday, after an early goal by Matias Laba, TFC defenders cleared two chances off the line and survived some truly erratic, ahem, “finishing” by the New England Revolution. In the end, TFC got a 1-0 win in Massachusetts, only its second road triumph of the year.

But a two-game winning streak? Start the parade. And, for the long-suffering supporters of this franchise, they shouldn’t try to analyze things too much. Just enjoy it — they deserve some triumphs, after all. And, for a franchise that has suffered so many suckerpunches late in games, maybe it’s time for a karmic shift, to see the opposition blow so many chances they should have converted.

And Laba deserves credit for turning a small glimpse of daylight into a goal. In the second minute, New England defender Jose Goncalves make the decision to try and carry the ball through the middle of the park than make a pass. He made a heavy touch just as he crossed half; Laba read it, stole the ball clean and then was off to the races. He got to the top of the box, stepped around a lunge from New England defender Stephen McCarthy and rolled a low shot towards goal. The ball pinged off the heel off defender Scott Caldwell and came right back to Laba, who slammed the ball into the goal on his second effort.

But, for Laba, who did so well to run on to Goncalves’s gaffe, getting the bounce was more a case of justice than luck.

Toronto FC spent the next 88 minutes and stoppage time surviving the onslaught from the home side. TFC utilized a high defensive line, and the Revs launched long ball after long ball, trying to spring forwards Saer Sene and Dimitry Imbongo behind the centre backs.

A long ball to Sene came oh so close to paying off just minutes after the Laba goal; Sene won the ball near the end line and squared it to Diego Fagundez. His shot was denied off the line by TFC left back Ashtone Morgan, who read the trouble and rotated into the middle to help the overmatched central duo of Doneil Henry and Steven Caldwell.

Later in the half, right back Richard Eckersley would clear a ball off the line, after New England fullback Andrew Farrell’s audacious overhead cross found Sene, who knocked the ball down for Fagundez. The Revs’ attacker rolled the ball towards goal, but Eckersley got back to clip the ball out of danger before it could cross the line.

Fagundez? Two clear chances — both cleared off the line.

But TFC keeper Joe Bendik deserves credit as well — and maybe a few Player of the Week votes. After a long probing ball found Farrell down the right side, he backheeled it for Sene, who crossed it in to Lee Nguyen, who’s rasping volley forced Bendik into a diving stop.

Bendik would have a lot of work to do in the second half. Early in the half, Sene was played through by Fagundez, but a sprawling Bendik took away the angle.

But Bendik’s best save came in the 60th minute; Fagundez barreled down the attacking left side unopposed, with Eckersley, the right back, nowhere to be seen. But, with a clear sight of goal, Fagundez couldn’t beat a diving Bendik.

Fagundez had three golden chances to score — and should, stress, should, have had a hat trick. We like to wax poetic about balls being cleared off the line or great saves, but the truth is, when an attacker has chances as clear cut as Fagundez had in the TFC game, going zero-for-three is troubling.

And a player as wasteful as Fagundez — and, heck, we could apply that to the Revs’ team as a whole — doesn’t deserve to see his team come out of an MLS match with any points.

So it might have been ugly, but the result was just.

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One Comment

  1. footy

    August 5, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Yes that might be the luckiest win ever, and two-thirds of it can be attributed to Bendik and his guardian angel. But you’re right Steven, it’s not that TFC hasn’t been on the wrong end of that stick before. The last game’s victory wasn’t lucky though That was simply legendary.

    Soccer is a game of momentum. It’s seems that very slowly, Nelsen’s managed to bring some winning spirit into this team. Exactly the mentality Bendik brought to the game yesterday. Of course I’d prefer winning with decent field play, but sometimes such a lucky win can give a team the confidence it needs to play better football.

    Btw I just love the way Laba finished with both feet, but hey I might be biased;-)

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