TORONTO – Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps split a pair of goals – as well as a point each – in an entertaining 1-1 draw at BMO Field that saw both Darren Mattocks and Jermain Defoe find the back of the net.
The Whitecaps took the lead early in the second half courtesy of Mattocks, who slotted home a tap-in in the box off a pinpoint Russell Teibert cross. Twenty minutes later, Toronto FC responded with a penalty goal scored by Defoe, his 11th goal of the year.
The result kept Toronto (7-5-4), who have a game in hand on all other teams in the Eastern Confrence, in third place in the standings. Vancouver (6-4-8) hold onto the final playoff spot in the Western Conference for now, but could be surpassed by the LA Galaxy later Wednesday.
The first half was an evenly-contested affair, with both teams exchanging spells of attacking position as they felt each other out; Toronto created the bulk of the offensive chances, the first of which came off a Doneil Henry header from a free kick at the left edge of the box; the ball was smothered graciously by goalkeeper David Ousted.
But, the best chance of the half came in the 40th minute, when Toronto FC won a corner off a Jackson shot. Collen Warner swung the ball into the box and once again found Henry with the header, who hit the post with his effort. The ball rebounded and eventually landed at the feet of Luke Moore, who cracked a shot at goal. Ousted mishandled the shot and Defoe pounced on the loose ball but was adjudged to be in an offside position.
The second half kicked off with a bang, with Michael Bradley forcing a big save out of Ousted from a curling free kick two minutes after the restart. That little scare was quickly shaken off, though, as Teibert collected a slick pass from Pedro Morales, beat Mark Bloom on the right and placed a low cross into the box and through a bundle of legs, connecting with Mattocks for the simple finish.
Toronto quickly began looking for an equalizer, and spent the next 15 minutes bombarding the Whitecaps from both flanks. It was Jackson whose efforts were rewarded just after the hour mark, after he cut in and ran into the box only to be clattered into by Nigel Reo-Coker.
Defoe coolly slotted home the penalty awarded by referee Allen Chapman for his 11th goal of the season, giving Toronto an equalizer with approximately a half hour to play.
The next 25 minutes were stop-start, however, with free kicks, fouls, corners and substitutions slowing the passage of play.
But the half dwindled down, and while the tempo was fast-paced and the passing movement yielded a few close chances, neither side could find the back of the net. Substitute Gilberto came closest with a late header, while the Whitecaps won a free kick with seconds to go in the match, but both chances passed without much drama.
Toronto FC next travel to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo on Saturday evening. The Vancouver Whitecaps head to Rio Tinto Stadium on the same day, where Western Conference opposition Real Salt Lake awaits.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Doneil Henry||Focused and strong at the back for 90 minutes, Henry beat away any threat that came his way, and could do little on Vancouver's goal|
|2||Pedro Morales||Kept in check the first half but had a huge influence on the second. His quick feed to Teibert was instrumental in setting up his team's goal|
|3||Jackson||The Brazilian is known for his unbridled energy, and tonight he focused it in a positive way, posing a constant threat on the left and earning the PK for TFC's equalizer|