By Brandon Farris
It was the Jermain Defoe show in Seattle as he scored twice in the first half against the Sounders to lead Toronto FC to a 2-1 victory.
Unlike last week the match got off to a quick start. Although the results indicate otherwise, the Sounders dominated possession in the match and often found themselves deep in Toronto territory but unable to capitalize on its chances.
Toronto got things started off early in the 3rd minute after Marco Pappa gave them a free kick opportunity in a dangerous area with a foul on Justin Morrow. On the free kick Stefan Frei was initially unable to keep hold of the ball, similar to last week, but Toronto couldn’t capitalize before he recovered.
The Sounders brought the pressure on in the 7th minute as Obafemi Martins used some nice footwork to get around a Toronto defender and pass to Pappa, who then crossed into the box and just narrowly missed connecting with Clint Dempsey.
Seattle had two more off target attempts by Martins and Pappa in the 7th and 8th minute. Dempsey tried again in the 10th minute as he took a shot from outside the box that went just to the left of the post and out of harm’s way.
The Sounders kept pressing as Dylan Remick, making his second start, had a nice stutter step past a TFC defender and the passed to Lamar Neagle who won a corner after his cross was knocked out by Steven Caldwell.
In the 13th minute Toronto had its next opportunity as Jackson took a shot from outside the box after a pass from Michael Bradley, but it was to no avail for him Frei was there to stop the shot and record the save.
Things got interesting in the 15th minute as Brad Evans made a clean slide for the ball and was stepped on unintentionally by Alvaro Rey. He came come off the field for a few minutes but his absence was noticed as the defense didn’t shift.
That was when Johnathan Osorio was left with room and found Defoe who managed to get perfectly positioned between DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore and was left one-on-one with Frei and the Englishman put it right past him to give Toronto the early 1-nil lead in the 17th minute.
Minutes later Toronto had yet another opportunity after they won a corner, Bradley took the kick and found Doneil Henry in the box who attempted to head it in but narrowly missed as it sailed just high of the crossbar.
In the 24th Seattle was back passing the ball and Pappa was sending it to Traore, but the pass was very weak and gave Defoe another opportunity as he intercepted it, then went on to beat Traore and put it down in the bottom right corner of the goal to put Toronto up 2-Nil.
It was almost 3-Nil when three minutes later when Rey took a shot in the box and had it blocked by Frei who just managed to get a hand on the ball and force it over the net.
Evans, still injured, was finally pulled off the pitch in the 29th minute and replaced by newcomer Gonzalo Pineda. Since Evans was subbed off the Captain’s band was handed to Dempsey for the first time since joining the Sounders.
Dempsey was taken down in the 31st minute about 25 yards outside the box and took the free kick that was defended well by the Toronto wall.
Seattle had two more opportunities before half time; Neagle had a good cross that just narrowly missed connecting with Osvaldo Alonso in the 33rd minute. Then on a free kick in the 37th minute Neagle put it into the box but Dempsey just couldn’t hold it down low enough and it flew aimlessly over the crossbar.
Questions were raised in first half stoppage time when Neagle was called offside; replays showed that he still looked to be in line with the last defender as the ball was played, which would’ve left Neagle and Dempsey with only Julio Cesar to beat. That was the end of the first half as the Defoe show took center stage leaving Toronto up 2-nil.
With the Sounders down at home they came out in the second half fired up to try to come back. Their first chance came in the 51st minute as Dempsey had a look but just couldn’t get his shot off leading to a Toronto clearance.
The next refereeing question came in the 52nd minute as Neagle had a ball perfectly delivered by Alonso at the top of the box. Neagle and Mark Bloom came together and the arms got tangled up, and both went down in the box. The official called a foul on Neagle and awarded a free kick to Toronto. Replays showed that Bloom wrapped his arm around Neagle’s, which should have resulted in a foul and a penalty for Seattle.
But Seattle didn’t let that slow them down as a minute later Martins took a shot in the box that Cesar barely got his foot on to keep it from going into the bottom left corner of the net.
Martins tried again in the 60th minute from the right side of the box but had his shot blocked by Caldwell who put his body in front of the shot to stop it.
The referee finally started pulling cards out in the 63rd minute after Yedlin was taken down by Rey who committed five fouls throughout the match. Toronto took the stoppage as an opportunity to make its first change in the match as they brought on Andrew Wiedman for Dwayne De Rosario.
Seattle made its next change in the 64th minute when Kenny Cooper was brought on for Marco Pappa. Then Toronto made another change in the 65th, replacing Rey with Bradley Orr.
A minute later Alonso committed a dangerous cleats up tackle on Morrow that the referee felt needed to be addressed with a yellow card.
Seattle took its final three shots of the match in the 74th and 76th minutes, all three of which were off target. The Sounders made their final change in the 79th minute when Neagle was pulled off and replaced with last week’s hero Chad Barrett. But unlike last week no last minute magic was in store for the 38,441 in attendance at CenturyLink Field.
Although the Sounders kept the pressure on in the final minutes the Toronto back four stayed strong and didn’t give them much room to try and steal a point back in this match.
This was only the second time that Toronto has defeated the Sounders in franchise history and first time at CenturyLink field.
Next Saturday, Seattle will keep the theme North of the Border as they travel to Montreal to take on the Impact, who beat the Sounders last season in the only matchup between the two. Toronto will head back north have its home opener against DC United.