Toronto FC needed that. They needed to feel what it was like to win again.
The Reds' 3-0 victory over CD Águila Tuesday in El Salvador in the teams' CONCACAF Champions League group match was their first win in any competition since Aug. 1, when they also defeated Águila, 5-1 at BMO Field.
“I’m feeling a bit better than I’ve been for the past few weeks,” head coach Paul Mariner told MLSsoccer.com by telephone from El Salvador. “It was very difficult circumstances, the field – it wasn’t the greatest surface in the world – so some passes went awry. But a 3-0 win away from home, a clean sheet, I was very, very pleased, all the staff were pleased.”
And it seemed appropriate that midfielder Terry Dunfield scored two goals to make sure this victory didn’t slip away from the Reds.
The 31-year-old Canadian international has played hard and energetically all season despite the team’s disappointing performance.
“His energy level is unbelievable, he’s defying his years,” Mariner said. “He’s the ultimate box-to-box player at the present moment. I thought his passing was fantastic, I thought his game management was incredible, really.”
Dunfield started and finished the play on Toronto’s second goal in of the game, which came late in the first half. He started the move on an Águila turnover, quickly giving the ball to Quincy Amarikwa, who in turn fed Ryan Johnson on the run.
Always hustling, Dunfield continued his run and was available to tap in Johnson’s pass.
The former Vancouver Whitecaps man also scored in the second half on a cross from Ashtone Morgan. In this case, it was a matter of Dunfield having more determination than the opposition, getting ahead of his markers to poke the ball home.
In addition to his more tangible contributions, Mariner also praised Dunfield’s leadership.
“He brings leadership off the field, on the field, he’s quality,” the TFC coach said, “And he brings it every single day to training, he brings it every single day when he’s playing his matches, he’s just a great team player.”
Dunfield wore the captain’s armband for the game with Darren O’Dea held out of the game as a precaution due to tightness in his hamstrings and groin area.
Mariner hopes that O’Dea will be ready for Saturday’s game against the New York Red Bulls, though. But Tuesday, Mariner forgot about all that and enjoyed the moment.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” he said. “It keeps the Champions League alive for us even though it’s a long shot. I’m just happy for the boys that they got a victory because the really deserved it.”