As an international-class striker himself in his playing days, Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner understood how Danny Koevermans felt on Saturday.
The Dutch striker, who wowed the league with his clinical finishing in 2011, hit his nadir in 2012 against Sporting KC when he couldn’t put home a couple of big chances in what eventually was a 2-0 loss.
But strikers have short memories, and Koevermans came through on Wednesday with two first-half goals as Toronto built a surprising 3-1 lead before finishing at 3-3 against the Houston Dynamo for their first road point of the season.
“I felt sorry for him on Saturday because he had his chances,” Mariner told MLSsoccer.com in a telephone interview after the game. “He was bitterly disappointed that he didn’t take any of his chances.
“But it’s like that. Being an old striker myself sometimes it goes like that for you. You just have a bit of an off day or the defense does particularly well. But he was terrific tonight. I thought Ryan Johnson and himself were terrific as were all the players.”
Koevermans now has five of the 11 league goals scored by TFC who are now 1-10-1. His first goal came in the 22nd minute, two minutes after Houston had tied the game.
Johnson did a lot of the work, carrying the ball nearly half the length of the pitch before knocking a pass forward to Eric Avila, who was just running into the box. From the right side, Avila put to ball over to the onrushing Koevermans.
The big man had the simplest of tap-ins, and he made no mistake.
“It was a beautiful goal,” Mariner said. “The movement of the front three was sensational.”
Koevermans headed home a pass from Julian de Guzman in the 45th minute to give Toronto an unexpected 3-1 lead.
“Julian puts in the cross and I beat my man near post and I hit it in,” Koevermans told reporters. “For me, personally, I would rather not have scored and have gotten the three points because I am still disappointed.”
But most Toronto supporters would have taken the draw had it been offered before the game against a tough opponent. Especially if it means their big striker is ready to flash that 2011 form once again.
Mariner, for one, thinks it’s coming.
“I absolutely do,” he said. “I hope it’s going to happen to Danny and Eric and Ryan.”