Well as predicted the weather played a large part in Saturdays RSL match, it started a little chilly and windy but by the second half it was a cold downpour. This kept a lot of fans away but still over 10,000 people showed up.
TFC put out Frei, Attakora, Cann, Usanov, Hscanovics, Saric, Sanyang, LaBrocca, Gargan, Nane, andBarrett with De Guzman, White, De Rosario, Peterson, Cronin, Gala, and Conway on the Bench.
RSLgo with; Rimando, Russell, Olave, Borchers, Beltran, Williams, Beckerman, Warner, Johnson, Saborio and Findley. The bench is Campos, Gonzalez, Alexandre, Wingert, Schuler, McKenzie, and Reynish.
Well it was clear that Toronto came to fight a defensive battle and when you start a match with few offensive players you send a clear message. Preki is clearly looking to find out what will work for TFC, who have had success at home but have really struggled on the road. RSLget the ball forward early and RSL is pushing a very high line early in the match as everyone is either in the midfield or the TFC half of the pitch. RSL is doing a nice job passing the ball around looking for gaps in the TFC defense. I love how the TFC announcers even see the tactic and are mentioning the dominance of RSL at home.
A early foul gives RSL a free kick about 12 yards outside of the area as Warner is taken down from behind. Johnson and Williams are over the ball, Williams to Johnshon to Beckerman who fires a shot and goes wide of the goal as RSL tries a little trickery. On the restart the ball moves up and Barrett fires a shot from distance but it goes right to Rimando who stops it easily and gets the action restarted. RSL really do look deliberate, nice ball to Findley who plays it into the area nicely but he was too fa rin frontof everyone. Corner kick take by Johnson, it goes into the area and Olave goes down as there was some type of contact on the set piece. You can see some contact between him and Cann but not sure what happened, even the replay is unclear, it was revealed in the post game press conference that Jamison was actually out for a few seconds.
Barrett tries to attack but with nobody with him it is broken up and RSLis back on the attack, again a lot of passing to stretch the defense out and look for holes. Tony makes a nice run, but it is broken up and RSL take it back over and start tot structure their attack again. Nice ball to Warner, back to Beckerman, Beltran play it into the box out for a RSL corner. A quick restart by Will Johnson and a great ball into the box as Saborio keeps it alive and Olave who just got back on the pitch puts it into the back of the net and RSL are up 1-0.
Wow a dangerous ball back to Nick as Barrett almost gets there and then Nick's pass is slow and Barrett almost gets to it again, I know the surface is wet but the ball isn't travelling very fast on it. RSLdoing a lot of passing and TFC a lot of watching, they only seem interesting in attacking the ball when it gets into their third of the pitch. Now TFC attacks but broken up by Findley who is tackled by Cann but no whistle from Stott and TFC counters and they get a great ball in by LaBrocca to Nane who puts it on frame but Rimando is there to push it out for a TFC throw in and RSL clear it out to midfield.
Salt Lake start to organize again at midfield, so far I am very impressed with the efforts of midfield as they are doing a great job controlling the ball and the pace of the match as TFC still sit back but are starting to push a bit more forward as they are now down a goal.
More after the jump:
The level of patience is very impressive as RSL look for gaps in the TFC defense, they are stringing together 7-8 passes in a row on many occasions and often more as they simply a nice ball into the box by Russell finds a diving Saborio, but controversy as they are claiming a hand ball. It looks like a clean goal off his shoulder, but even at that it was no yellow card. Then on the restart Cann elbows Saborio and gets his own yellow card, and off the free kick a great shot by Warner is pushed out by Frei and nothing much comes from the corner as Beckerman puts the ball out for a TFC goal kick. RSL get the ball back but turn it over in the midfield but the pressure from RSL is a bit much, Andy is down as it looks like someone stepped on his foot.
TFC get the ball back and try to play a long ball to Barrett but it goes long to Rimando and RSL are back on the attack until a pass goes long to Frei and TFC look to try and build some type of attack but nothing comes of it and RSL commits a foul and TFC get a free kick at midfield. RSL take it back over but their long ball finds the TFC defense andwithin two passes Toronto give the ball right back. I really like the switching of sides with Russell and Beltran, Tony and Robbie both seem more comfortable getting forward and creating chances. For a team that is 1-3-1, the level of confidence that RSLis playing with tonight is impressive, as the ball goes out for another RSL corner kick, Andy will take this one and it is cleared out for a RSL throw in.
I have to say that I have seen few matches where one team controls 25 of the first 30 minutes of a match like RSL has done so far, another foul give RSL a free kick about 5 yards outside of the box off to the side. Williams and Johnson and Will fires a shot but Frei pushes it over the bar and out for a RSL corner, Williams on the corner and the ball goes to the far side of the box and then out for a TFC throw in. Wow no call on a clear foul in the box as Warner gets taken down, RSL still have the ball but how in the world is that not called?
TFC push the ball deep but Barrett can't get there and RSL is back on the attack and a good ball into the area by Findely is out for a RSL corner kick, their 6th of the night already. Johnson to take this one and it is cleared out by Toronto and it bounces around the midfield as TFC really seem unable to come up with anything offensive. RSL back on the attack but Findley runs out of options and TFC break it up but RSL get right back on the attack and a bad cross by Beltran goes out for a goal kick.
RSL look to start the attack again, but a whistle blows and a bad offside call ruins a good chance for Robbie who had gotten behind the TFC backline. Toronto look to try to keep the ball for a few minutes and are passing it around deep in their own end, a nice long ball gets them a throwin and they move some guys forward but it is broken up by RSL but the long ball to Saborio goes a bit long
Even with Toronto playing defensively in the first half, I have to say this has been an impressive 45 minutes for RSL, who should have another goal on the poor handball call against Saborio, and possibly even two if the PK had been called on the takedown of Warner in the area. RSL is just forcing Toronto to try to cover them and a pass to Andy, who fires a shot from the top of the box that beats Frei to the near post and RSL are now up 2-0 in the 42nd minute.
RSL again have the ball back and have pressed high as they are looking to do something, Russell tries to cross the ball and it is cleared to midfield but Kyle keeps it in RSL's possession. I have to say the only bright spot for TFC has been the play of Nick La Brocca, who has been everywhere and is the only TFC player really attacking the 50-50 balls tonight. A nice play by Saborio gets the ball to Will, who plays it into the box but it goes out for a corner and Will takes it and RSL are still looking dangerous as they earn another corner kick as we enter the 3 minutes of stoppage time. Olave tries to head it down but eventually it goes back over to TFC, a long ball to Barrett but Olvae clears it but Warner gets carded for a "dangerous play" about 15 yards outside of the area. RSL forms a 5 man wall but the kick goes right to Rimando and that is the end of the first half.
Simple domination of the first half by RSL has given them a 2-0 lead that could easily have been more if either of the questionable calls of the first half had gone RSL's way. The numbers were 6 shots to 3 in favor of RSL, 4 to 2 on goal, 8 to nothing for corner kicks.
Toronto make all 3 of their changes at the half, with White, De Guzman, and De Rosario coming in and Nane, Sanyang, and Hscanovics going out. Talk about rolling the dice, would anyone expect anything else from Preki? a little frantic for RSL as they look to adjust to the changes made by TFC, still some good passing from RSL and Robbie has to hold his run on a great pass. The rain and cold have come as the conditions have really changed in the last 20 minutes. Toronto are already doing a better job of attacking the ball but so far RSL is still controlling more of the possession early in the second half. A great long ball to Findley as RSL take back over and Kevin Stott goes to issue a old card to Olave and one for TFC on Attakora. Will is set up about 10 yards out and it is cleared out but RSL keep possession and the cross by Andy goes a bit high and out for a goal kick.
I have to say the young defender Attakora has been very impressive for such a young players. Toronto is really doing a much better job of attacking the ball even when it is in the RSL half of the pitch, but RSL still are controlling possession. A great ball in by De Ro finds the head of White, and off the crossbar as Rimando was beat, the corner is cleared out for another on by Olave. That was a bullet dodged, this time the corner goes right to Rimando and RSL start to organize another attack as Toronto really is pressuring much higher than anytime in the first half. O'Brian White is impressive as he seems to have some real pace, Saborio fires a shot but it is deflected wide of goal for another RSL corner kick, Johnson takes it and it is played out and Will wiffs on the ball as he tries to play it back into the area but RSL keep possession until Kyle's pass is too long for Will.
Will battles back to get possession back but eventually TFC get the ball back but they blow it on the throw in and RSL take over yet again, and a save by Frei and then another shot deflects out for another corner, Andy takes this one and it is cleared out by RSL keep possession. A great run by Warner and a cross finds Findelyon the near post but out for another corner. Will plays it on the ground and Andy plays a ball in for Saborio but it goes just a foot wide of the far post and out for a goal kick.
De Guzman gets a yellow card for a foul from behind on Andy, RSL starts it again and are on the attack but Saborio's shot is deflect and just goes over the bar for another RSL corner kick. Will takes this one, and a good ball into the area but a foul is called and it goes over to Toronto. That was the 5th yellow card of the night, as Toronto looks to maintain some possession. TFC corner kick, LaBrocca takes it cleared by Olave and Borchers but Toronto keep possession and a good ball in by De Guzman and a foul by Andy takes down Attakora, that will give Toronto a dangerous free kick from about 15 yards outside of the area.
The ball is played in but cleared by Olave for a TFC throw and they will try a long throw but a great play by Warner clears it out but TFC get it back and De Guzman fires a shot that goes just wide. Toronto has looked more dangerous in the last 10 minutes than in the first hour of the match, the upside is that RSL hasn't really dropped off much either and that means the action moving much quicker, Saborio makes a great steal in the box but can't get off the pass to a wide open Johnson. Another RSL cornerkick and Will is there to take it, but it just misses the head of a RSL player but bounces around and Borchers fires a shot but it goes out for a goal kick.
I really have been impressed with the passing and control that RSL has showed in the match, it isn't perfect by any stretch but solid play like this is what everyone now expects from the cobalt and claret. RSL will make their first change as Wingert comes in for Russell, his first action since the US Open Cup match a couple weeks ago. Toronto does well to get forward but RSL break it up, until it goes out for a TFC throw in but they lose it and RSL get it back. It is funny to hear the Toronto announce team talk about how it looks like RSL is having a lot of fun playing tonight. A yellow card to LaBrocca for a foul and Warner, who again has been very good tonight, a nice ball played in and Robbie tries to back heel it to Andy in the box but it is broken up by Toronto but RSL keep possession.
Preki doesn't look happy on the TFC bench, an offside flag on Findley but that was close, it looks like he might be cramping up just a bit. It looks like someone turned a switch on RSL and they are now looking a lot more defensive than at anytime during the match. A bad clearance by RSL give it right back to TFC, a little sloppy but eventually it is taken back by RSL and Will and Robbie try a little give and go, but it is broken up but RSL keep the ball. A dumb foul by De Guzman could have gotten him another yellow card as he tries to steam roll Beltran, and a bad free kick by Will who has taken a ton tonight. 3rd time they have mentioned the upcoming friendly between Canada and Argentina, which many expect Will Johnson to be called up for.
A nice ball in by DeRo but it goes right to Rimando who has played well tonight, Toronto keep the ball and look to try to organize a bit, something they have really struggled with all night. Nick starts the action again and it goes back over to TFC, who still look very rough.
I have to say I was kinda impressed with how many fans stayed as the weather got worse and worse, but the action on the pitch was good enough to keep your mind off the cold and wet conditions. Great ball by Andy but Will doesn't take the shot (wow he should have) and TFC take over but give it right back to RSL who look to spread TFC thin and see if they can sneak behind them to get a third goal. Nelson Gonzalez is coming in for a very impressive Collen Warner, who gets a great ovation from the crowd, you have to believe as Nelson, Collen, and Alexandre continue to develop that RSL will really have the deepest midfield. A ball played into the area by DeRo hits Kyle in the arm and a PK is given on the hand ball, what a really questionable call. Sorry that was clearly ball to hand and not hand to ball, there was no advantage gained since TFC had nobody in the area. DeRo puts it past Rimando and now we are 2-1 with a couple minutes plus stoppage time.
RSL push the ball into the TFC third of the pitch and will look to keep possession and look for a chance to get their third goal of the night, a dangerous back pass by Borchers and White almost gets there but RSL dodges a bit of a bullet. You can tell that the goal really gave TFC some energy and they look more lively than at anytime in the match. The clock hits 90:00 and we have 4 minutes of stoppage time for RSL to hold off the TFC attack and try to get another goal of their own. Good run by Kyle, solid effort by Saborio but out for a goal kick and TFC will look to try to get the ball forward in a hurry, cleared out to midfield but TFC keep possession. RSL try to counter but TFC are attacking with energy, the final RSL change as Andy Williams goes out and Jean Alexandre comes in.
A foul gives RSL a free kick about 15 yards outside of the area and they will slow down as Nelson looks to take this one, and instead of going to goal he tires to play it Findley but TFC take back over and they are trying to create something in the RSL end and a foul give RSL a free kick just outside of their own area. Nick takes the kick and it goes to Saborio and the whistle blows and RSL get the win 2-1 in a match that was much more lopsided than what the score reflects.
The final numbers are 12 shots to 7, 5 to 4 on goal, 13 to 3 on corners and 2 to 1 on the scoreboard all in RSL's favor. A complete effort, very few lapses by the home team who will look to continue this trend next weekend as expansion side Philly comes to town.
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