WASHINGTON, D.C. — Interim coach Nick Dasovic told hisToronto FC players to remember New York.
Those on last year’s squad know all toowell what happened in last season’s finale. On a rainy night in Giants Stadium,TFC suffered a 5-0 loss to the league worst New York Red Bulls. The loss deniedthe Reds their first ever playoff berth.
While Toronto were eliminated from MLSCup Playoffs contention weeks ago, this season finale would end differently.Again facing the league bottom-feeders in D.C. United, TFC posted a win in thelast match of the season for the first time ever. The 3-2 victory over Unitedwas a positive end to a mostly negative season and provided a glimmer of hopefor the 2011 season.
“Everybody worked hard again,” saidDasovic. “I told them before the game that New York was a disappointmentand I wanted this year for them to see how they can end up strong.”
Nicholas Lindsay, who wasn’t a part oflast year’s debacle, took the words to heart and is proving each game to be abright light in the club’s future.
A product of the TFC Academy, Lindsayhad his third-straight stellar game in the middle following-up strongperformances against Árabe Unido and the Columbus Crew on Tuesday and lastSaturday, respectively.
He ran, he attacked and he helped ondefense.
It was all highlighted on Toronto’sgame-winning goal when he took the ball, surged up the middle and dished off toJacob Peterson who ultimately fed Dwayne De Rosario for his second goal of thegame and his 15th of the season.
Earl Cochrane, TFC’s interim directorof soccer, said Monday in the third of seven fan Town Hall’ meetings the clubneeded a speedy winger. The Reds may have found that player in Lindsay, and hisHome Grown status and minimal salary make him even more attractive.
But teammates Nick LaBrocca and JacobPeterson have also been playing well. The midfield partners combined forthree assists against United in one of the best performances from the center ofthe park this season.
LaBrocca and Peterson have beeninconsistent this season, but the two could thrive in a more open system undera new coach. That is if they stay. A new director of soccer may clean house,leaving LaBrocca and Peterson without a team.
One player almost certain to stay,however, is captain Dwayne De Rosario.
The four-time MLS Cup champion cappedoff his best ever season with a brace, finishing with 15 MLS goals and 17 inall competitions. Missing the playoffs twice with his hometown team andcriticized roundly for his check signing goal celebration, De Rosario will bemore determined and resolved to get TFC into the playoffs. A full seasonwith fellow striker Maicon Santos will certainly help the cause.
That a number of players heededDasovic’s pre-game call to step up is a positive. But Lindsay and the strugglingmidfield stepping up to the occasion is even more promising.
As is the team’s ability to overcome anearly strike by Santino Quaranta, whose second minute goal exposed a defensethat has struggled since Preki took his defensive system with him.
“Finish off the season on winning noteis great,” De Rosario said. “We fought back and it shows courage…This teamnever gave up…We fought as a unit and we took the chances when they came.”
On an evening when Jaime Moreno washonored for playing his last game in United colors, it was the visitors’performance that took centre stage and gave the suffering flare-lighting TFCfans that trekked down to RFK Stadium a ray of hope in a darkseason.