Toronto FC dropped two precious points yesterday as they failed to capitalise on several opportunities to add to a Dwayne De Rosario header in the 17th minute. A win would have taken the Reds to within a point of the top of the Eastern Standings.
Looking to bounce back from last week's demoralising loss to Seattle, the team gave the home fans something to cheer about early on.
Adrian Serioux, playing against his former team, sent one of his heat-seeking missile throw-ins directly into the penalty area. De Rosario towered above the Dallas defence to score his first goal for the Reds, heading home past goalkeeper Ray Burse.
Toronto’s goal was just reward for having a more confident attacking approach to the game, in sharp contrast to the home opener against the Sounders. As early as the first minute, Fuad Ibrahim, a surprise selection on the left wing, sent in a promising right footed cross from the edge of the penalty area.
De Rosario made contact with the ball, but it was bundled off the line by Dallas defender George John just as Chad Barrett swooped in for the kill.
John Carver had decided before the game to keep Barrett in the starting lineup, and the striker had a chance to repay his coaches' faith in the seventh minute. However, after an Amado Guevara free kick had fallen to him, the American could only hit a rather tame shot straight at Burse.
Toronto continued to attack in numbers and broke forward in the 21st minute after Dallas had given the ball away. Guevara connected with his central midfield partner Carl Robinson, who in turn set Ibrahim through on goal.
With a chance to score a dream goal against his former team, the 17-year-old shot wide of the left post.
Barrett had an excellent chance to add to Toronto’s lead 10 minutes before the break. Guevara hit a powerful shot from 25 yards out, which thundered onto the upright. The ball bounced back out to Barrett, but with only the Dallas goalkeeper to beat, he headed the ball over the crossbar.
Despite FC Dallas dominating the shot count, Toronto did a good job of limiting them to long-range efforts in the first half. Stefan Frei, playing in his home debut at BMO Field, looked comfortable in goal, dealing with everything that came his way.
However, just before halftime, the team from Texas gave a warning of what was to transpire in the second half.
Dave van den Bergh made a run down the left wing and crossed the ball into the Toronto penalty area. Dax McCarty was on hand to head the ball onto the underside of the crossbar with Frei beaten.
The ball bounced down and there were calls for a goal, but the linesman waved the appeals off. Replays proved that the header had never actually crossed the goal line.
As the second half started, De Rosario, playing just behind the front man, continued to exert his influence on the game. In the 57th minute, he played an unbelievable pass from inside his own half, beating the Dallas offside trap.
Sam Cronin latched onto the ball with an open sight on goal. Unfortunately, his initial touch let him down and Burse got to the ball first.
Dallas was starting to sense that they could get something from the game, and Van Den Bergh had a chance in the 67th minute. However, the Dutchman’s firm shot was hit straight at Frei, who held onto the ball.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes, Toronto could sense the finishing line was in sight, but anxiety was beginning to creep in as they backed off and started to play less aggressively.
Finally, FC Dallas took advantage of this as they made a breakthrough seven minutes from the full-time whistle.
A McCarty corner was sent in from the left, but missed everyone as it went across the face of the goal. Unfortunately for Toronto, the ball fell to substitute Eric Avila, who crossed in for Pablo Ricchetti to flick a back heel past Frei leaving the score tied at 1-1.
The late goal was a dagger in the heart for Toronto, and they couldn’t pick themselves up to push forward for a late winner. Toronto FC had lost the chance to win, and they knew it.
On the positive side, the performance was a big improvement from the previous weekend. It will be up to Carver to use this as a rallying point as Toronto heads down to Dallas for the rematch at Pizza Hut Park.