TORONTO – Toronto FC surged past rivals Columbus Crew with a furious late comeback to claim the 2014 Trillium Cup on Saturday, courtesy of a pair of goals from Jermain Defoe and a late, late Doneil Henry header.
Despite Columbus going ahead twice, TFC battled back and eventually claimed the winner off an injury-time free kick won by Dwayne De Rosario. With the match tied 2-2, Dan Lovitz swung the ball into the box and Henry – who was culpable on the Crew's second strike – headed past goalkeeper Steve Clark, giving Toronto a 3-2 win and all three points at BMO Field.
Meram wouldn’t miss his next chance, though. In the 18th minute, Meram picked up a pass at the edge of the box on a quick Crew counterattack and curled a shot past Bendik into the top corner for a 1-0 lead. Meanwhile, Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen was forced to make a substitution, Lovitz coming in for Bradley Orr, who'd pulled up lame just before Meram's goal.
Toronto FC quickly turned on the pressure, and it paid off two minutes later when Jackson found Defoe in the box. Defoe controlled the ball but was pulled down by Tyson Wahl, and referee Sorin Stoica awarded a penalty kick.
Defoe stepped up to the spot and struck his finish into the bottom left corner past Clark, who got a touch on the ball but couldn’t make the save.
A pair of free kicks won by TFC and a yellow card issued to Michael Parkhurst would be the only other moments of action in the first half as the two teams went into the locker rooms deadlocked at 1-1, Toronto holding a 3-1 advantage on aggregate for the Trillium Cup.
The second half started out slower than the end of the first, with Toronto pushing forward and Columbus content to sit back. On the hour mark, the match picked up as Stoica doled out a yellow card to Agustin Viana, the first of six second-half cautions. In the 65th minute, Columbus won a corner kick which was swung in and met by Viana, who outjumped Henry and headed home.
Columbus, leading 2-1, then found themselves battling off heavy pressure from Toronto FC. The home side continued to create chances and it finally paid off in the 81st minute, when substitute Gilberto slipped a through ball in for Defoe. He let the ball bounce twice after Gilberto’s pass and hit it first time with his left foot, beating Clark in the top corner.
After that, it was all Toronto FC in the dying minutes, until Henry's late heroics secured a gutsy victory for the home side.
Toronto travel to Montreal on Wednesday for the final leg of the Amway Canadian Championship, tied at 1-1 with the Montreal Impact. Meanwhile, the Columbus Crew head to FedEx Field to take on D.C. United on Saturday, the second half of a doubleheader with a Spain vs. El Salvador “Road to Brazil” match.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Jermain Defoe||He doesn't need many chances to score, and that means TFC can hardly ever be counted out. His budding partnership with countryman Luke Moore also looks promising.|
|2||Justin Meram||His team's late collapse should not completely obscure the Michigan native's good movement up top, and his exquisite finish on the opener.|
|3||Kyle Bekker||Aside from a few wobbles, the youngster continues to impress as he attempts the tall task of replacing Michael Bradley in the TFC engine room.|