TORONTO – Jermain Defoe was the hero once more for Toronto FC, who defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at BMO Field, giving Toronto their third straight home victory and a valuable three points ahead of the World Cup break.
The only goal of the game came from the penalty spot, Defoe beating the San Jose 'keeper Jon Busch in the first half and Toronto holding onto the lead for the rest of the match.
Before the game even started, Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen was forced to make a change to his starting line up. Gilberto picked up a knock while warming up, so Kyle Bekker got the start in midfield. San Jose, without Chris Wondolowski, started Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart up top in tandem.
With the change made before the match, the two teams kicked off and immediately Toronto took the game to the Earthquakes, winning a pair of corners and a free kick. Doneil Henry picked up a cautionary yellow card for a foul on Steven Lenhart in the 17th minute, and Nick Hagglund showed off his offensive side with a superbly hit karate-like shot that tested Busch.
That pressure continued relentlessly and finally paid off in the 25th minute, when Hagglund was pushed down in the box by Gordon and referee Fotis Bazakos pointed to the spot after taking a second to evaluate the situation. Defoe stepped up to the spot, placed a dagger of a shot into the left hand side and beat Busch, who dove the other way.
At the start of the second half, the San Jose Earthquakes came out hungrier, pushing the home side’s back line. The two teams exchanged spells of possession and in the 65th minute, newcomer Dominic Oduro made his Toronto FC debut, coming in for Jackson.
Not long after, the referee doled out a controversial yellow card after Clarence Goodson handled an overhead ball down to stop Oduro from receiving a cross. Calls for a red card were ignored, but the resulting free kick was nearly put away by Hagglund, whose flick header flew just wide of the post.
TFC 'keeper Joe Bendik nearly conceded a goal with 20 minutes to play after spilling a floating effort but the ball was cleared. San Jose turned the intensity up in the last 10 minutes of the match, coming close on a couple of occasions but couldn’t find the back of the net for the equalizer.
It’s Toronto’s sixth regular season victory, matching the club’s total wins in 2013. The two teams now take a few weeks off for the World Cup break, before returning to action late in June.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Nick Hagglund||The rookie right back was all over the place, stopping everything in the back and a target up top.|
|2||Collen Warner||Quiet but vital clog in the center of the field that contributed to the clean sheet.|
|3||Steven Caldwell||Steady veteran kept the backline organized, denying SJ any clear chances until late.|