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Monday 4 July 2011

MLS Weekly Review - Midweek Round 16 – Of the First of Two Battles for Canadian Supremacy

    The single MLS match this midweek saw the two Canadian teams do take to the field in their first of two matches in four days. Toronto was desperate to avenge their opening day loss in Vancouver, while the Whitecaps were looking to record their first ever MLS road victory.

    With the second leg of the Canadian Championship rescheduled for Saturday at noon, this match took on new meaning. Not only was it a chance for two struggling sides to gain some much needed league points, but it was also an opportunity to gain a mental edge going into the weekend’s clash.

    Both sides depleted by injury, Vancouver took the peculiar step of resting several starters.

    A decision that cost them in the end, as though they held the advantage in possession they could not use it to good effect as they did not manage a single shot on goal.

    The match was decided by a penalty kick awarded in the 52nd minute. Nick Soolsma danced along the edge of the area, struggling against Vancouver’s Greg Janicki, who stuck out a leg tripping up the slippery Dutchman. An audible gasp from Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi who was being interviewed on the broadcast accompanied the foul; he quickly exited the booth.

    Soolsma stepped up and sent the keeper, Jay Nolly, diving the wrong way, putting the ball in to the keeper’s left. Encroachment by Joao Plata led to the kick being retaken. Nolly properly read the second attempt, diving to his right, but could not reach the low, hard Soolsma shot.

    Vancouver, now chasing the game, brought on reinforcements in the form of Camilo to join Omar Salgado – who started the match – and Eric Hassli – who subbed on as the second half began – in attack.

    The two sides traded chances, Salgado sent a shot wide, while Plata ran out of space as he attempted a shot, but neither could find purchase.

    Toronto ended a winless streak of nine matches, earning themselves some confidence heading into the weekend’s final, while Vancouver will hope their strategy of resting key players will serve them well come Saturday.

Toronto v Vancouver 1-0.

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