Toronto FC had the best of both worlds in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Philadelphia.
They had a positive result against a playoff-bound team, and were able to rest some of their key players ahead of Tuesday’s vital CONCACAF Champions League match at FC Dallas.
“It’s always important, the feeling about the last game and the feeling is now good,” head coach Aron Winter said, looking forward to the club’s CCL Group C match in Frisco, Tex.
Goalkeeper Milos Kocic made sure the day ended in a positive way with two big second-half saves to keep the score at 1-1.
In the 58th minute, just after Ryan Johnson’s equalizer, a shot by Sheanon Williams inside the penalty area was deflected by defender Ty Harden. Kocic reacted well and knocked the ball down with both hands.
As he fell forward, he swiped the ball out of the way with his right hand as another Union player went for the rebound.
“I was all ready to dive, so I had to stay up again,” Kocic said. “It caught me a little bit off-balance but I recovered well, I think.”
He was in the right spot, just to the edge of the six-yard box 10 minutes later, when Veljko Paunovic latched on to a long pass in the penalty area and pounded a shot. Kocic made a superb reaction save and pushed the ball over the goal.
“I think that was the save of the game, it was in the right moment,” Kocic said. “It’s a good feeling. I was standing higher and then I was dropping back because you don’t know what’s going to happen. [Paunovic] had a great first touch and then a surprising shot. I think my position was decent, and that’s why I was able to make the save.”
While Kocic made sure the day ended right, Winter was able to coach the game with an eye on Tuesday.
Striker Danny Koevermans stayed on the bench Saturday and midfielder Torsten Frings – who was sweeper in the 3-4-3 used against the Union – was lifted after 54 minutes. Joao Plata, playing for the first time since Sept. 10 because of a hamstring injury, was replaced after an hour. Forward Peri Marosevic did not play.
Midfielders Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield who played major minutes in both of Canada’s two World Cup qualifying matches in the past week did not make the trip and will join the team in Texas.
“It’s always good to end up on a good note before such an important game as Tuesday’s game,” Kocic said.