A clinical finish and a skillful assist by Dwayne De Rosario goal gave defending champion Toronto FC a 2-0 win in a rough-and-tumble opening match of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship at BMO Field on Wednesday night.
TFC captain De Rosario opened the scoring in the 11th minute when he pounced on a rebound from a Sam Cronin corner kick at the top of the Montreal six-yard box.
Last week’s MLS Player of the Week and four-time MLS All-star swung around and converted the bouncing ball during a goalmouth scramble with a low hard shot to give Toronto a 1-0 lead for his fifth goal of the 2010 season.
During the fight for the ball in front of goal, Montreal ’keeper Matt Jordan was issued a yellow card as he made an ill-timed two-footed slide tackle on Toronto defender Ty Harden while attempting to break up the play.
Jordan missed the ball and instead made hard studs-up contact with Harden, who was stretchered off the field with a laceration to his knee and was replaced by defender Raivis Hscanovics.
De Rosario then set up Toronto’s second goal in 62nd minute with a clever left side-footed pass to Chad Barrett.
Barrett quickly controlled the pass, and then stepped around Montreal defenders Cedric Joqueviel and Adam Braz before calmly stroking a shot past Jordan to give Toronto a 2-0 lead.
Montreal were forced to play the final 54 minutes of the match a man down after losing veteran striker Roberto Brown to a red card in the 36th minute. Brown delivered a not-too-subtle punch to the face of Toronto defender Nick Garcia during an off-the-ball incident in the Reds' penalty area, and the referee wasted no time in reaching to his pocket and delivering the Panamanian international striker his marching orders.
After spending several minutes on the ground being attended to by training staff, Garcia left the game and was replaced by forward O’Brien White.
The referee handed out a total of six yellow cards and was kept busy by calling a total of 24 fouls.
Montreal, who won the inaugural 2007 club tournament, were not without their chances as Toronto goalkeeper Stefan Frei was called on to make a spectacular diving save during first half injury time on a scorching 30 yard free kick from midfielder Leonardo Di Lorenzo.
The Impact have yet to beat Toronto in three years of competition, with Toronto winning four meetings and tying once while outscoring Montreal 11-2.
The Nutrilite Canadian Championship is a three-team home-and-home round-robin tournament that serves as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. The winner of the tournament earns a berth in the preliminary round of the annual continental competition with the winner advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup.
Toronto FC (2-3-0 in MLS action) play their next regular-season match on Saturday when they visit Real Salt Lake at Real Tinto Stadium. Their next match in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship is at Montreal’s Saputo Stadium on May 12.