TORONTO – Toronto FC fell to their fifth straight loss to start the 2012 season after dropping a 1-0 result to Chivas USA on a blustery Saturday afternoon at BMO Field.
For Chivas USA, it marked their third straight away win to start the season with the decisive goal coming off a 31st minute corner kick delivered by Miller Bolanos and headed home by Oswaldo Minda for his first MLS tally.
Seeking to prevent a worst-ever start to a season in club history, TFC manager Aron Winter fielded an offensive starting XI featuring five attacking players. It looked like the move had the potential to pay immediate dividends after eight minutes when Joao Plata collected a Danny Koevermans lay-off and sent a dangerous shot wide right of goal.
The Reds’ attackers showed off their ability again in the 17th minute with a series of quick, one-touch combination passes that put Luis Silva in on goal. But Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy read the play well and came off his line to snuff out the danger.
Chivas USA’s 4-1-4-1 formation slowly gained control of the midfield in the first half and the visitors threatened in the 20th minute on a deflected, long-distance shot from winger Ryan Smith which was parried away by TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
The Goats were eventually rewarded through their Ecuadorean connection in the 31st minute. Minda beat both Ryan Johnson and TFC captain Richard Eckersley to Bolanos's corner kick, sending a downward header that was too strong for Kocic to keep out of goal.
Although Toronto struck the top corner of the goal on a penetrating run by Plata with three minutes remaining in the half, the 1-0 Chivas USA advantage never looked in doubt.
However, with the wind to their backs, Toronto FC started the second half strong. A Johnson header from a corner kick was cleared off the line by Bolanos just two minutes after the break.
But TFC would struggle to break down a Chivas USA side that sustained prolonged attacks, taking advantage of the space allowed by Toronto’s attack-minded formation.
TFC’s frustrations in attack came to a head in the 70 minute when Koevermans backheeled a delightful cross from Plata, only to watch Kennedy come off his line and block the attempt on goal with his midsection.
Johnson had a chance to bring Toronto level on two separate occasions. First in the 80th minute, he fired a left-footed shot from inside the area only to watch it cleared off the line by a late recovering run from Chivas central defender Heath Pearce.
Five minutes later the Jamaican forward also failed to convert on a free header at the edge of the six-yard box which finished wide right.
The best chance of the match for Toronto came with one minute left as Koevermans saw his wide-open, point-blank shot saved by Kennedy.
One positive for TFC was the return of central defender Adrian Cann, who played the full 90 in his first appearance since May 22 of last year after recovering from knee surgery.
Toronto (0-5-0, 0pts), who have been oustcored 10-2 in their five league matches this year, will look to reverse their fortunes with the anticipated return of Torsten Frings to the lineup against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, April 21 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network). On the same day Chivas USA (3-3-0, 9pts) will look for their first point at home in a battle against the Philadelphia Union (10:30 p.m. ET, MLS LIVE).
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Oswaldo Minda||Chivas USA's early-season MVP with another strong game at holding midfield and a set-piece goal to boot.|
|2||Dan Kennedy||Key saves throughout the match, including a miraculous stop on Danny Koevermans in the final minute. His form from a breakout 2011 has clearly carried over.|
|3||Heath Pearce||Calming influence for a Chivas USA side under siege in 2nd half. Critical clearance off the line was the highlight of a strong defensive performance.|