VANCOUVER – While the buildup for both the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC prior to opening day centered around some new arrivals, it was a familiar face who proved the difference on Saturday at BC Place, as Gershon Koffie’s 60th-minute strike proved decisive.
The play started with a knockdown header from Darren Mattocks. Lee Young-Pyo collected the ball and played a one-two with Kenny Miller, then slotted the ball into Daigo Kobayashi. The Japanese midfielder, who joined the Caps this offseason, then claimed the first assist of his MLS career with a cool lay-off that teed up Koffie for the shot. The Ghanaian hammered what would prove to be the winner past TFC goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Toronto, under debutant coach Ryan Nelsen, actually showed better than their 2012 last-place finish would've expected. During the scoreless first half, the visitors had the better of possession (55.2 percent). And they created the first opportunity from a Kyle Bekker free kick just four minutes in.
The opportunity arose after Vancovuer's Jay DeMerit took down newly signed TFC striker Robert Earnshaw. Bekker’s ball forced Joe Cannon into an awkward clearance, before the ball came out again. Once again, Cannon flapped unconvincingly, but his defense cleared it before anyone could get a foot on it.
Four minutes later, DeMerit was again the focus of attention for the home fans. The former US international went down after landing awkwardly, and limped off, replaced by Brad Rusin, who made his Whitecaps debut.
Despite Toronto's possession advantage, Vancouver saw plenty of flashes from their much-hyped speedsters Mattocks and rookie Kekuta Manneh. They continued to find space down the flanks, and looked to combine with each other and Kenny Miller. However, the Scotsman struggled with his final ball more than once, until his involvement in the move that saw the Caps' attack breakthrough via Koffie.
The home side nearly doubled their lead late, as halftime substitute Nigel Reo-Coker slipped Mattocks through on goal on a counterattack, but the Jamaican’s shot was well blocked by a sliding Richard Eckersley.
The Whitecaps are next in action on Saturday as they host the Columbus Crew at BC Place. Toronto FC are also at home on Saturday, when they welcome face Sporting Kansas City to BMO Field.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Daigo Kobayashi (VAN)||The Japanese showed his skill and flair, set up a goal, and bowed to the fans upon subbing off in the 2nd half.|
|2||Lee Young-Pyo (VAN)||Steady as ever, the right back managed the Caps' backline after DeMerit's injury and got involved in the goal.|
|3||Kyle Bekker (TOR)||A fine debut for the rookie, showed his composure and efficiency.|