Toronto FC record first franchise victory
Published Saturday, May 12, 2007 6:52PM EDT
TORONTO - The goal drought is over, as is the wait for the first win. Five games into its inaugural season, Toronto FC is officially on the board thanks to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon.
After an eventful opening 45 minutes ended at 1-1, the expansion MLS side came out blazing in the second half and put Chicago away with a pair of goals before a raucous crowd at BMO Field.
Fullback Kevin Goldthwaite gave Toronto a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute with a low left-footed shot. Rookie midfielder Maurice Edu made it 3-1 in the 75th with a glorious left-footed shot, showing nice technique in controlling the ball after substitute Andrea Lombardo found him all alone in the box.
Toronto improved to 1-4-0 while Chicago fell to 3-2-1 after its second straight loss.
Striker Danny Dichio got the ball rolling in the opening 45 minutes by notching a couple of firsts for Toronto, scoring the first goal and then earning the first red card in franchise history.
First the good news.
It took Toronto 384 minutes to score and the goal sent BMO Field into a frenzy. Commemorative white seat cushions, provided for free as part of what was dubbed the stadium's official opening weekend, doubled as Frisbees as fans tossed them out of the stands like rice at a wedding.
The white discs on the green artificial turf made BMO Field look like the site of a giant game of Twister.
The historic goal came in the 24th minute as Edson Buddle drove into the penalty box, raking a low cross across to Dichio. Parked in front of goal, the big English striker stuck out a leg and managed to tap the ball in despite falling backwards.
But the joy was short-lived as Chicago equalized off a corner in the 36th minute. The ball came out to Chris Rolfe at the edge of the box and the striker scored his fourth of the season on a hard rising shot through traffic from the edge of the box.
There was trouble in the 43rd minute as Chicago goalie Matt Pickens objected to the way Dichio challenged for the ball in front of goal. An enraged Pickens picked himself off the ground and headed straight to Dichio. Shoves were exchanged, drawing a flood of players into the fracas in the Chicago goal.
When the dust settled, Dichio and feisty Fire midfielder Diego Gutierrez were ejected, with Dichio leaving to a standing ovation. Replays showed that Pickens may have had a legitimate beef with the six-foot-three striker, who was using his arms and legs to make a nuisance of himself with the goalie.
There were 25 fouls in the first half alone.
Toronto came out firing on all guns in the second, with Edu and Ronnie O'Brien forcing Pickens to stop accurate long-range efforts before Goldthwaite scored.
The game was the second straight at home for Toronto, which started with three losses on the road. Toronto hosts defending champion Houston on Wednesday and then D.C. United on Saturday to end its current four-game homestand.
Notes: Saturday's game marked the debut of star Toronto winger Ronnie O'Brien, who missed the first four games with a knee injury ... Taking a page from Liverpool's Anfield, the Toronto FC Supporters Club unfurled a huge Toronto FC banner in the south stand before the game. ... Toronto's first outing at BMO Field was actually April 28 but this weekend was dubbed the official opening of the stadium because it coincided with Friday's Canada-Argentina under-20 friendly and the CONCACAF congress meeting. ... A busy weekend for striker Andrea Lombardo, who started for Canada on Friday and then came on in the 70th minute Saturday for Toronto FC.