TORONTO – The Colorado Rapids returned to the scene of their MLS Cup 2010 triumph but they still haven’t figured out a way to beat Toronto FC at BMO Field, losing 2-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Toronto kept their slim playoff hopes alive behind a brace from Danny Koevermans inside the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Dutch Designated Player now has six goals in seven league matches since making his debut on July 20.
Sanna Nyassi reduced the deficit for Colorado but TFC used a pair of goal-line clearances to hang on for their second straight league win against a playoff contender.
The Rapids, who beat FC Dallas 2-1 in extra time in the MLS Cup final held at BMO Field last November, have now lost all five regular-season matches played against Toronto FC by a combined score of 11-5.
Toronto FC move up to 30 points and with only four matches remaining, they stand just six points away from the final wild card playoff berth occupied by the Portland Timbers. Colorado, who have lost all five matches played in Toronto, are still safe in wild card territory on 41 points.
After a quiet first half from both sides, Koevermans showed a goal scorer’s instincts on both his second-half tallies. First, he netted an Ashtone Morgan cross in the 52nd minute and then headed home a Nick Soolsma cross on the hour mark.
It was a long pass from Eric Avila, which found Morgan on the left flank and the youngster’s low cross found Koevermans streaking at the edge of the six-yard box. The forward beat Rapids defender Miguel Comminges, who was making his first start at left back for Colorado, and knocked it home with his right foot.
The cross came from the other flank in the 60th minute with right winger Nick Soolsma finding his Dutch compatriot all alone in the box as Rapids defender Drew Moor left him unmarked. Koevermans sent his header into the lower left corner for a 2-0 TFC lead.
Colorado’s response came 10 minutes later as Nyassi took advantage of a wild sequence in TFC’s box to score his fifth goal of the season. It was Nyassi’s cross that originally found teammate Omar Cummings in the center of the area but the Jamaican striker saw both of his shots deflected. The second one trickled to Nyassi all alone at the top of the six-yard box and the Gambian obliged and drove the ball into the roof of the net to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
Toronto's Morgan, who blocked the first shot by Cummings in the sequence, also cleared a ball off the goal line on a shot by Rapids midfielder Jeff Larentowicz in the 73rd minute.
But the biggest TFC clearance came in the final minute of regulation. With the Rapids attacking with four forwards in search of an equalizer, it was Richard Eckersley who made the goal line stand in the 90th minute and repelled a shot on goal by Moor to preserve the victory.
TFC manager Aron Winter opted to make a tactical change on Saturday, moving midfielder Torsten Frings into the center of a three-man back line. The same shift helped Toronto to a victory against Real Salt Lake earlier this season. Toronto played withouth winger Joao Plata, who sat out due to a hamstring injury which is expected to keep him out a further two weeks.
Both clubs, who were coming off heavy CONCACAF Champions League losses in midweek, will return to action in the continental competition this week. Toronto host Tauro on Sept. 20 while Colorado host Real España the following day in two matches which will be critical for both teams' hopes of advancing.
TOR -- Danny Koevermans 5 (Ashtone Morgan 2) 52
TOR -- Danny Koevermans 6 (Nick Soolsma 4, Richard Eckersley 1) 60
COL -- Sanna Nyassi 5 (unassisted) 70
TOR -- Julian de Guzman (caution; Reckless Foul) 38
COL -- Sanna Nyassi (caution; Reckless Foul) 67
Colorado Rapids -- Matt Pickens, Kosuke Kimura (Macoumba Kandji 84), Marvell Wynne, Miguel Comminges (Tyrone Marshall 70), Drew Moor, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz, Pablo Mastroeni, Wells Thompson (Caleb Folan 59), Sanna Nyassi, Omar Cummings.
Substitutes Not Used: Joseph Nane, Ross LaBauex, Scott Palguta, Steward Ceus.
Toronto FC -- Milos Kocic, Richard Eckersley, Ty Harden, Andy Iro, Ashtone Morgan, Eric Avila (Mikael Yourassowsky 88), Julian de Guzman, Torsten Frings, Ryan Johnson, Danny Koevermans (Matt Stinson 74), Nick Soolsma (Terry Dunfield 80).
Substitutes Not Used: Danleigh Borman, Doneil Henry, Peri Marosevic, Stefan Frei.
Referee: Mark Kadlecik
Referee's Assistants: Claudio Badea, Brian Poeschel
4th Official: Mark Geiger
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Partly cloudy and 59 degrees