Home MLS Toronto FC TFC wins the match, but loses Koevermans

TFC wins the match, but loses Koevermans

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Toronto FC coach Paul Mariner returned to Foxborough, Mass. where he spent five fond seasons with the New England Revolution, but probably could not wait to leave as the clock ticked down on another nerve-racking match.

It was a tale of two halves for the Reds, with Luis Silva scoring in the eighth minute to give his team the early lead. TFC clung to that slim 1-0 lead through 90 minutes and a total of 12 minutes of stoppage time – five in the first half and seven minutes after the final 45 – to hold on to a 1-0 road victory.

The teams met for the second time in three weeks after 2-2 draw on June 23 at BMO Field. After TFC scored two first-half goals, the Reds blew their lead with the tying goal coming in the fourth minute of stoppage time. There was no disappointment this time around — barely. With each mounting attack from the Revs in the second half it seemed to be a matter of time before TFC’s backs were broken yet again. But Milos Kocic was fantastic in goal for Toronto and made several big game-saving stops to earn his third clean sheet of the season.

Despite picking up three points the Reds did suffer a big loss with Danny Koevermans injuring his left knee late in the first half and had to be stretchered off the field. The injury looked serious and it would be a huge blow to the Reds if the Dutch striker is out for any extended length of time. Koevermans has had a deadly strike rate in MLS having scored 17 goals in just 25 matches since joining Toronto midway through last season.

Mariner did not sound optimistic after the match.

“Someone’s going to have to step up and become a goal scorer for us,” he said. “You know Luis (Silva) has two in two, you can see what a good player he is. I fear the worst for Danny (Koevermans) and I’ve got my fingers crossed, but I spoke to the doctor from New England, who I have the highest regard for, and it doesn’t sound too good.”

Mariner’s club is thin up front with Joao Plata on loan to LDU Quito and Nick Soolsma’s contract being terminated by mutual consent earlier this week. The injury meant that the coach had to thrust new acquisition Andrew Wiedeman into the line-up earlier than planned. The forward came over from FC Dallas on Friday in the trade that sent designated player Julian de Guzman the other way.

The victory continues TFC’s climb back up to respectability after languishing well behind every team in the league for most of the season. Now up to 16 points, the team remained four back of Philadelphia in the East and three other teams are within six points.

Since taking over from Aron Winter, Mariner has righted the sinking ship and has led the team to a 3-4-2 record over nine matches of a tightly packed schedule in just under a month. The transformation has been evident as certain players have responded better with the former Revs assistant at the helm. One of those players has been Silva, who has been through a tough time personally in the last three weeks.

Silva’s father passed away less than a month ago and just a day before his arrest in Houston in an incident that also included Miguel Aceval and Soolsma. The rookie scored his first MLS goal on Wednesday and dedicated that effort to his dad. He said after the match that it has been a rough three weeks for him. Mariner has given the young player a vote of confidence since taking over and rewarded him with consecutive starts and he once again found the back of the net.

Hanging On
The Reds continued to ride high from its 3-2 last second victory against Vancouver on Wednesday. Midfielder Reggie Lambe missed that match because he had to return to his native Bermuda for personal reasons. But he was back in the line-up on Saturday night and was the catalyst on the game’s only goal.

Lambe eluded three challenges before finding Silva who made a quick give and go pass with Koevermans. Then the rookie took two touches forward before slotting a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and inside the far post.

Koevermans was big threat early on and nearly scored minutes later when he slipped in behind the defence on a well-timed run. He stayed onside and then gathered a nice pass from Ashtone Morgan but with the ball bouncing he sent a right-footed shot wide of the right post.

In the 38th minute he pulled the same trick again by getting behind the vulnerable Revs defence and picked up a pass wide right. Although he was alone for a few seconds he did not have a good angle for a shot on goal and, as he looked to pass, defender A.J. Soares knocked the ball away. Koevermans looked to get his foot caught in the turf and jammed his leg before falling down hard to the pitch, clutching his left knee.

With its heralded striker down, Toronto continued to pace its attack with Ryan Johnson up front with Wiedeman. Toronto defended and closed down on the ball well in the first half giving up only one quality chance. But that all changed after the break as New England made adjustments and pressured Toronto from very beginning of the re-start. The Revs wore down the Reds who began to look very tired with still a half hour remaining, to drastically swing the momentum in their favour.

Kocic’s first big save came in the 65th minute when he dropped and dived at the near post to stop Kevin Alston’s right-footed shot at a sharp angle. But the keeper’s next two saves were brilliant and prevented another result slipping away from the Reds — both on substitute striker Jerry Bengtson. In the 82nd minute Kocic made a desperate diving save to his left on a ball that was destined for the back of the net and inside the far post.

Then from a corner kick, Bengtson got up high and headed a line drive towards goal, but Kocic used his quick reflexes to keep the ball out. The ball went to his right and was played back in and Shalrie Joseph knocked the ball in with his hand. Kocic and his defenders immediately gestured to the referee, who disallowed the goal. Captain Torsten Frings began pushing and shoving the six-foot-three defensive midfielder to show his displeasure with the poor sportsmanship but Joseph was given a yellow card for his handball.

Silva nearly iced the game in the 86th minute but his sliding right-footed shot from the centre of the box was saved by Shuttleworth. If the Reds weren’t tired enough the fourth official signalled for seven minutes of added time to prolong the tension for the Reds, but in the end, there was no stoppage time goals given up on this night as Toronto barely held on for result.

Toronto will not get an extended rest just yet and will return home to host the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night with a 7 p.m. kickoff at BMO Field.

 

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