WFC recap: Amarikwa scores but TFC, Liverpool finish level
TORONTO – Quincy Amarikwa wasted no time opening his account and Toronto FC’s youngsters more than held their own as the Reds held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw in World Football Challenge action at the Rogers Centre.
With 33,087 fans on hand, Amarikwa – who was acquired Saturday morning from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for a conditional draft pick – gave his new team the lead in the 58th minute. The advantage was shortlived, however, as Adam Morgan equalized for Liverpool in the 69th minute to give manager Brendan Rodgers a draw in his first game in charge of the English giants.
TFC fielded close to a first-choice lineup to start the match, with the only change in the team that defeated the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday coming in goal as trialist Freddy Hall replaced Milos Kocic. Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers played a mixture of first-teamers and youngsters, anchoring the side with veterans Alberto Aquilani, Jose Enrique, Charlie Adam and Jamie Carragher.
Though neither side was particularly threatening during the first 45 minutes, Toronto were first to force a save in the seventh minute. After some neat build-up play, Luis Silva laid the ball off to Ryan Johnson at the top of the 18-yard box, but Brad Jones pushed the Jamaican’s left-footed effort wide of the post.
WATCH: Match report and reactions
On Liverpool’s side, Adam and Daniel Pacheco both had efforts from distance blocked. Each team had a half-hearted penalty shout in the half, but the match remained scoreless heading into the break. In an attempt to provide a boost – as well as conserve energy in preparation for the coming weeks – Rodgers fielded an entirely new team in the second half, while Paul Mariner made 10 changes.
Toronto sent out mostly youngsters, with Dicoy Williams and Ty Harden providing a veteran presence at center back while Amarikwa made his debut for the club after arriving via trade. Meanwhile, Liverpool once again combined established professionals such as Martin Skrtel and Joe Cole alongside academy products and prospects.
Amarikwa wasted no time trying to endear himself to the home fans, attempting an audacious chip in the 50th minute, though ‘keeper Peter Gulacsi wasn't troubled as the shot floated over the bar.
Amarikwa managed to break through eight minutes later, however, giving the home side an unlikely lead. After Sergio Camargo forced Gulacsi into a sprawling save, the former Colorado Rapids striker cleaned up the rebound, slamming the ball into the back of the net then finding himself at the bottom of a TFC dog pile.
Just over ten mnutes later, though, Cole tore through TFC’s midfield with a trademark run before playing it to Raheem Sterling on the left flank. Sterling beat two Toronto defenders and rolled a shot under the onrushing Homegrown product Quillan Roberts that Morgan smashed into an empty net to make it 1-1.
Immediately following the goal, Mariner sent Adrian Cann on for Harden to partner Williams, who saved a goal a few minutes later by sticking out a foot to deny Morgan his second.
Rodgers made his lone substitution of the second half in the 74th minute, bringing on Brazilian Lucas Leiva for his first game action in more than seven months. Mariner countered by bringing Keith Makubuya on for Josh Janniere and Oscar Cordon for Camargo, while Amarikwa was removed in the 84th after getting shaken up in Liverpool’s box.
The home side had one final opportunity to pull ahead, as Andrew Wiedeman came close to slipping a shot under Gulasci, but in the end the teams were force to split the spoils.