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Sunday 6 May 2012

Upon First Glance – Toronto FC v DC United

    Another match; another loss.

    Toronto FC set a new record for futility – an eighth straight defeat to open the season.

    An altered DC eleven, with Andy Najar boldly installed at right-back, Daniel Woolard shifted into the centre and Chris Korb at left-back.

    The lack of pressure and acres of space provided the talented young Honduran with room for a running start at the rigid Toronto defense; a vulnerability that helped hand United the attacking impetus for much of the first half.

    Following a lacklustre half, one where Toronto’s primary concern was to hold United off the score-sheet, DC were able to break through ten minutes into the second.

    Chris Pontius scored the first of two goals, a fantastic strike from distance after finding space in front of the deep-lying Toronto backline. Hamdi Salihi added a second twenty minutes later, breaking the offside trap after a half-cleared corner kick that was headed back into the mixer by Brandon McDonald.

    An acrobatic volley that left Milos Kocic helpless and the Toronto defenders raising their arms, calling for an offside flag, in vain.

    The atmosphere turned sour; frustrations on the pitch reverberated around the ground. Muffled chants of “Winter Out” and “Let’s Go Blue Jays” clashed with more earnest methods of support.

    In a peculiar turn of events neither of the former Reds – De Rosario or Maicon Santos – played a role in handing TFC the historic loss, much to the chagrin of the headline composers circling the carcass.

    A solid defensive performance - highlighted by de Guzman nullifying the efforts of his Canadian national teammate Dwayne De Rosario by shadowing him out of the match and Maicon Santos quelled by the physical pressure heaped upon him, limiting his effectiveness at bringing others into play and finding space for his shots from distance - was ruined by two miniscule moments where the focus was lost.

    Sometimes all it takes is a second.

    The 0-2 loss made worse when Torsten Frings was forced off midway through the second half with an apparent shoulder or collarbone injury after colliding with Doneil Henry on one of Toronto’s few set-pieces opportunities. He left the pitch in anger, storming down the tunnel after attempting to play through the pain-barrier.

    Perhaps the lone bright spot was the return to pitch of Jeremy Hall now recovered from hernia surgery. Acquired in the offseason from the Portland Timbers in exchange for a draft pick in next year’s Superdraft, Hall showed well in his twenty minutes.

    Toronto must regroup from yet another disheartening loss and raise their spirits once more for a crucial deciding match on Wednesday night.

The second leg of the Voyageur’s Cup tie with Montreal is delicately poised after the two sides drew 0-0 at Montreal’s Stade Olmpique last week.

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