TORONTO – With pressure mounting from a winless streak at BMO Field stretching past a year and heavy rain starting to wash out yet another home loss, Toronto FC desperately needed someone to rise to the occasion on Saturday against the Columbus Crew.
The man who stepped forward was perhaps the last one frustrated TFC fans were expecting.
Seldom-used forward and second-half substitute Andrew Wiedeman showed fantastic composure to redirect a ball from winger Bobby Convey past Columbus keeper Andy Gruenebaum in the 94th minute for the game-winning goal, giving TFC their first win this season at BMO Field.
The last time TFC won a game at BMO was on July 18, 2012, when they rallied to defeat the Colorado Rapids, 2-1.
The man behind the game-winner on that day? Andrew Wiedeman.
“I did not know that,” he said. “Hopefully they won’t be so few and far between in the future.”
Wiedeman found his way onto the field Saturday in large part due to injuries and fitness issues for TFC. Robert Earnshaw (hamstring) and Danny Koevermans (fitness) both missed the game Saturday, and head coach Ryan Nelsen opted to start Jeremy Brockie with Justin Braun up top in a time of need against Columbus.
But Braun was subbed out at halftime for the ever-eager Wiedeman, who had not played since a 2-1 loss to New York on April 27. The 23-year-old California native made good on Nelsen’s gamble when he latched onto Convey’s cross for his third career MLS goal.
“Pretty much one of the few skill sets I offer is finishing,” Wiedeman told MLSsoccer.com. “It is something I have always worked on, so when I am actually in that situation I can execute.
“Obviously minutes have been hard to come by and it has been kind of a rollercoaster of a season,” he added. “But Bobby got open down the line and put in a hell of a ball with his right foot … and I was able to get on the end of it and put it in.”
According to TFC captain Steven Caldwell, Wiedeman’s game winner was a just reward for a young player who has kept his head down and worked hard while awaiting his chance to play.
“Andrew is a fantastic professional,” Caldwell said. “He works hard every day and is very positive. He is just the kind of guy you need on a team. Andrew took his opportunity when it came. He was superb today and I was so pleased for him to get that goal.”
Said Nelsen: “That is Wiedeman’s major strength, his finishing. To be fair, a lot of players would have tried to blast that. It was a really composed finish and it felt like it was forever before it rolled into the back of the net.”