Ryan Nelsen’s Toronto FC returned to form on Wednesday night as they defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1, at BMO Field in Toronto, Ont. With the win, the Reds head into the second leg of the 2014 Amway Canadian Championship semifinals with a precarious advantage.
Here are six things we learned, followed by player ratings, from Wednesday night’s match between Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
1. Jermain Defoe opens the scoring
In the 28th minute, Gilberto delivered a through ball to Jermain Defoe, who won a 1-v-1 with Vancouver goalkeeper Marco Carducci. From this author’s perspective, this was a bit of a surprise move by Carl Robinson to start Carducci, an untested goalkeeper that was in a mismatch against two very talented players in Defoe…and this guy.
2. Michael Bradley adds more pain to Vancouver’s misery
In the 89th minute, Defoe’s pass down the right side found a streaking Michael Bradley, who slotted it past Carducci to make it 2-1. At this point, it was clear as to why Carducci has not earned any playing time in MLS.
3. Kekuta Manneh keeps hope alive for Vancouver
In the second minute of extra time, Kekuta Manneh raced to clean up a poor shot from Nicolas Mezquida to make it 2-1. The goal is important for Vancouver because a 1-0 win or better next week can put the Caps in the ascendancy.
4. Completely out of the blue: Vancouver’s reserves in action
Actually, all of the starters for the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday were not regular starters. Carducci, for example, was 17 years old and this performance will go down as a bit of a valuable lesson for him. The average age of the players on the pitch was 22. GIven that, this was actually a decent performance from the reserves. One would imagine that Robinson will elect to throw in the veterans against Toronto next week at BC Place.
5. Aside from duels won, stats are pretty even
The only major statistic that Toronto FC won in this game was duels won. The Reds won the ball more, leading to better chances on goal on Wednesday.
|Toronto FC||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|14||Attempts on Goal||13|
|4||Shots on Target||6|
|6||Shots off Target||4|
|23||Open Play Crosses||13|
|1||First Yellow Cards||3|
|0||Second Yellow Cards||0|
|62%||Duels Won %||37%|
|77%||Passing Accuracy %||78%|
6. A draw or a win will do for Toronto
For Toronto FC, the effort is straightforward: a draw or a win will do for the Reds, who have a precarious one-goal advantage. However, a 1-0 win or worse for the Whitecaps will see Vancouver through, so the second leg sees everything to play for.