TORONTO – Fuad Ibrahim is on a roll.
The 18-year-old Toronto FC midfielder had only 70 minutes of playing time entering today's critical clash with the Colorado Rapids. But after his corner kick set up Dan Gargan for the tying goal in Toronto's 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo 10 days ago, on Saturday afternoon he buried a botched clearance attempt in the 61st minute to give the Reds a badly needed 1-0 triumph.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
“There was a defender in front of me, but I just hit it as I was going down,” Ibrahim said. “The goalie was kind of close to me. He didn't really have a good chance to get down right away.”
The goal pleased Toronto coach Preki, who still remains cautious in assessing his young prospect.
“He's doing okay,” Preki said in the postgame press conference. “I put my trust in him and he played 90 minutes today – although he really played 70 because 20 was cramping. I hope he's starting to understand what it takes to get to the next level.”
Preki stresses that hard work in practice will be the most imporant factor in deciding how much playing time Ibrahim will receive.
“He has to be committed every day in training,” the coach said. “He has to be hard every day in training. If he continues to make progress, he'll see more minutes.”
“Any time I get a chance I just have to keep working hard,” he said. “Training is important, and I have to keep working every day. Hopefully, my chances will come.”
Preki was much clearer and more direct about his team's overall performance against the Rapids.
“An important three points,” he said. “We found a way to get a result today in a hard game against a very good team. They have quite a few dangerous guys, and you have to be very, very careful how you attack. At the same time, I thought we made a couple of mistakes, but [Stefan Frei] made some good saves. He kept us in the game.”
It was a good day for TFC midfielder Nick LaBrocca, as well. The clever, creative midfielder clearly enjoyed the victory over his former team.
“I feel like it might be the same players out there, but it's a totally different team,” LaBrocca said. “Everybody's fighting, everybody's getting on the same page. We're working out things, but we're making great strides and great progress.”
Toronto had several chances today to revert to last year's form, when the team gave up 15 late goals, squandering innumerable chances to move up in the MLS playoff race.
Colorado attacked the Toronto net relentlessly in stoppage time at the end of the second half. In one crazy scramble, three different Rapids failed to connect on gold-plated chances to tie the game.
But standing behind all that chaos, Toronto goalie Stefan Frei remained calm, and TFC nailed down the win.
“I'm not surprised this year,” Frei remarked. “I think we've been able to do that quite a number of times this year. It's just commitment, and knowing that we need to work harder than the other team for 90 minutes. That's what we do most of the time this year, and we continue to do that.”