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Toronto's Mariner vows to continue to lean on Dunfield

TORONTO – Two of the most memorable moments of Toronto FC's 2012 season feature a wild celebration by Terry Dunfield.

The Canadian international midfielder headed in the winning goal in the last minute of stoppage time against his hometown Vancouver Whitecaps in a 3-2 victory at BMO Field on July 11.

And the 30-year-old scored a late equalizing goal against the Dynamo in Houston on Aug. 25, again on a header, to earn a 1-1 draw for the Reds.

“The one against Vancouver was extra special because it was my hometown club and being in the 94th minute, it was fantastic,” Dunfield said Thursday after training as TFC prepared for Saturday’s game against Sporting Kansas City. “I think the goal against Houston showed the spirit of the club and the never-say-die attitude we have in the changing room.”

WATCH: Dunfield speaks to media

At BBVA Compass Stadium Darren O’Dea found a wide-open Dunfield with a long pass after a throw-in.

“It was like stealth,” Dunfield said, explaining how he became so open.

The goals are one thing, but Dunfield’s passion and all-out effort have earned him a regular place in the starting lineup since Paul Mariner was named head coach on June 7.

“I think since Paul has taken over my role both on and off the field [has changed], he’s asked for a little bit more, to show a little bit more leadership in the changing room and also on the field and hope others follow,” Dunfield said.

“We’re a real young team, sort of the way I play is to give everything and lead by example. I think we’ve got a got a very good team here, we’re not far away.”

He used Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League match against Mexico’s Santos Laguna as an example. The teams were tied at 1-1 until Santos scored in the 90th and 92nd minutes to win 3-1. It was a game TFC knew they needed to win to advance from the group stage.

“We played Santos [even] for 89 minutes, one of the best teams in North America,” Dunfield said. “It was so disappointing. If we finished 1-1, it’s not the end of the world. It wasn’t a 3-1 game.”

Said Mariner: “He’s all over the field, he’s scored vital goals for us. The one in Houston and that was a classic one against Vancouver with his head which he is not renowned for.

“It’s what he brings to the table in the dressing room, to the training field and on game day. He covers almost every blade of grass. It’s infectious what he brings to us so I see no reason to take him out.”