Home MLS Toronto FC Winter starts TFC regulars; Angel leads Chivas to victory

Winter starts TFC regulars; Angel leads Chivas to victory

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Aron Winter gambled, and rolled snake eyes.

With a massive, must-win CONCACAF Champions League against Pumas UNAM coming up on Tuesday, and with Toronto FC all but eliminated from the MLS playoff race, the Reds’ technical director and coach decided to start his best available XI Saturday against Chivas.

Joao Plata, the Ecuadorean sparkplug, was unavailable due to injury.

But, not only did Winter run the risk of having to sit down regulars against Pumas in three days time; his side also got a spanking from the Goats in Los Angeles.

Juan Pablo Angel, the veteran who has scored more goals against Toronto FC than any other player in MLS, targeted his favourite opponents once again, scoring with his head in the first and with a laser beam of a shot in the second. The goals bookended a Justin Braun marker, as the Goats won 3-0.

TFC is a point behind Pumas and FC Dallas in CCL group-stage action, with games against each of the teams the Reds are chasing left on the schedule.

Meanwhile, going into the match against Chivas, the Reds knew they would have needed to win all four of their remaining games, and hope for 10th place New York, 11th place Portland and 12th place D.C. United — all with games in hand on the Reds, to stagger down the stretch.

New York and D.C. United — behind a Dwayne De Rosario hat trick — made things even worse for the Reds by winning their games. The Red Bulls, in the final playoff slot, are now nine points up on TFC. The Reds have three games left. Well, you do the math. We know this — with just a tie in its remaining games, the Red Bulls will eliminate TFC from playoff contention with a month to go in the season. In fact, TFC was basically eliminated on Saturday; it lost its first game against New York by five goals, so the tiebreaker between the teams is pretty well decided. The Red Bulls and TFC play each other next Saturday.

So, while the loss stings tonight — the hurt will be increased exponentially on Tuesday if Pumas is able to control a TFC team that is a) fatigued or b) filled with reserve players.

Justin Braun: Scored in 3-0 rout of TFC

The Goats controlled the match right from the outset, as the Toronto FC backline was continually exposed.

Ante Jazic, part of the Canadian squad for its first two World Cup qualifiers, came running down the left wing, catching Toronto FC right back Richard Eckersley out of position. Jazic delivered a ball into the area that Angel met with his head. The Colombian hit the ball with such power, that it had enough to go over the line even though keeper Stefan Frei got a hand to it.

And, after his heroic goal-line clearance last weekend saved a win against the Colorado Rapids, Eckersley once again showed his troubling tendency to get caught upfield and out of position, allowing too much space down his side. Granted, Eckersley is a good recovery player, which allows him to get upfield more than other fullbacks would — there are similarities in his game between him and Marvell Wynne, who held down the right back spot with the team before being sent to Colorado in 2010. But, as the season has progressed, more teams are showing their willingness to attack Eckersley’s position.

But, Eckersley didn’t have as rough as evening as the person playing left back. In the second half, after reigning player of the week Danny Koevermans was denied his chance to equalize by Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy, Morgan misplayed his attempt to head the ball out of the TFC penalty area. Angel pounced on it and Frei did well to save it.

Morgan, though, was in the thick of the action when Chivas doubled the lead. After the TFC defenders couldn’t clear a cross that came in from the left — it skipped through the box and went to the other side —Michael Umana crossed the ball from the right. Striker Justin Braun simply overpowered Morgan and headed the ball past Frei.

Angel got the insurance marker late, as he turned TFC defender Andy Iro inside out before slamming a shot into the top right-hand corner.

How tough was the night for TFC? The Reds didn’t get a corner until the 64th minute. When TFC finally got one. the Goats had already taken seven.

Winter was able to get Julian de Guzman some rest, taking out the Designated Player at half.

But, now the Reds need to come home, physically and mentally recover from a demoralizing loss, and play the biggest game of their season in 72 hours time.

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