"I thought it was a disgrace. I’m not going to make any excuses, I think we lost the game to the better side." These were the words uttered by Toronto coach John Carver in his press conference after the team had lost 2-0 to Seattle.
While it’s harsh to call Toronto’s performance a disgrace, there’s no arguing that Seattle was the better team. The Sounders passed their first road test of the season with flying colours and in the process proved that they’re for real.
Only one expansion team has ever entered the league and won the MLS cup in their first season. It’s still early, but on this evidence, Seattle has a great chance to join the Chicago Fire on this exclusive list.
Designated player Freddie Ljungberg, starting his first game of the season, and man of the match Nate Jaqua formed an almost immediate understanding. Both players linked up well to overcome the absence of star player Fredy Montero.
Hopes had been high that Toronto could build on their best ever start to a season. Greg Sutton got his first start in goal and Pablo Vitti continued his partnership upfront with Chad Barrett in a 4-4-2 formation.
The team was further boosted by the return of central midfield combination, Carl Robinson and Amado Guevara. Unfortunately, jetlag may have played a part, as the duo was unable to influence the game.
TFC looked to give the home fans something to cheer about early on as Rohan Ricketts played Barrett through on goal. Unfortunately, the striker mistimed his run and was clearly offside.
Seattle had their first chance after eight minutes as James Riley crossed the ball from wide right towards goal. Oregon born forward Jaqua got his head to the ball, but it was blocked by Sutton and cleared by defender Adrian Serioux.
The Sounders continued to press and were rewarded with their first goal on the quarter hour mark. In a move reminiscent of his time at Arsenal, Ljungberg collected the ball 40 yards out and ran at the defence.
Playing a quick one-two with Jaqua, the Swede found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, calmly slotting home to the right of Sutton. 1-0 Seattle.
Toronto was struggling to make any openings at the other end, but there was some controversy after half an hour as Ricketts was brought down in the penalty area. It could have gone either way, but the referee gave nothing.
Things got heated in the aftermath, especially between Dwayne De Rosario and Johan Hurtado, resulting in the Columbian being booked.
One of the features of Toronto’s first two matches had been the surging runs’ of Marvell Wynne down the right wing. However, it took 40 minutes’ of this game for the fullback to get forward with any real purpose.
Crossing into the 18-yard area, the ball fell for De Rosario. The Canadian international’s shot was blocked by Sebastien Le Toux and kicked out for a corner. There were calls for a penalty, but the claims were unjustified.
It appeared TFC would go into the break down by one, but right on half time, the visitors landed a killer blow. Ljungberg was involved again as he got the ball on the right near the corner flag. Cutting back on himself, he flat-footed the defence and played into Le Toux, just inside the area, who in turn passed the ball to Jaqua.
Jaqua’s shot was blocked, but after a couple of deflections, the ball fell kindly for Steve Zakuani to score his first goal for Seattle through the legs of Sutton. 2-0 Sounders.
Carver switched to a 4-3-3 formation for the second half in an attempt to get his deflated team back into the game. He replaced Ricketts with Sam Cronin at halftime and ten minutes after the break, Danny Dichio was brought on for Barrett to cause problems in the area.
However, the Seattle defence, led by former Toronto defender Tyrone Marshall, were handling everything that was thrown at them, including the windy conditions, which they dealt with more comfortably than TFC.
Guevara had Toronto’s best chance of the game in the 69th minute. Jim Brennan made an excellent run down the left wing, nut-megging Le Toux in the process. The Captain then whipped a telling cross into the Seattle penalty area. Guevara found space but got too much under the ball as he headed it onto the top of the crossbar.
TFC finally got the ball into the back of the net on 72 minutes. However, it didn’t count as Dichio was called for a foul when it was clear that he’d won the ball fairly before putting Vitti through on goal. This sequence of events summed up Toronto’s day.
Seattle continued to look for the final nail in the coffin and almost got it on 78 minutes.
Ljungberg was put through on goal, but was distracted by Serioux and Sutton collected the ball. More worryingly for the Sounders, their first goal-scorer went down with an injury and had to leave the game.
A minute later, Toronto had their last clear-cut chance to get back into the game. De Rosario played a telling cross from the right and Vitti timed his run perfectly towards the goal. However, his shot hit the right post with only Kasey Keller to beat.
And that was it. Seattle had kept another clean sheet, but more importantly come into one of the toughest arenas’ in the MLS and claimed a convincing victory. They now return home to take on the Kansas City Wizards at Qwest Field.
Meanwhile, Toronto must lick their wounds and look at what exactly went wrong in a game, which before hand, they looked to have a great chance of winning. Next week, they host a Dallas team, which has so far lost every game.
Needless to say, if TFC are serious about making a run at the playoffs, this is the type of game they have to win.