Steele's stunning stoppage strike steals show, seals steely success

Steele's stunning stoppage strike steals show, seals steely success

On occasion, a win is just a win. You don't get the emotional thrill of the three points, of victory, of success. Thankfully, last night was a bit of a different case. Against a side desperate for points and for anything resembling success, we fought until the very end, and once again, it paid off.

While there can be some complaints about certain refereeing decisions — a goal called back for a tetchy offsides call, a goal called back for, well, a non-existent foul, a yellow card to Javier Morales for "diving" (er, getting out of the way because he knows what it's like to have his leg brutalized) — we didn't make things easy on ourselves.

Perhaps we could take some heart from the fact that Toronto was looking very good, despite their now seven losses. They were quite good on the counter: Olave conceded a penalty on a late foul in the box after a break — this, after I defend him for not making as many late fouls (sigh) — and Toronto's 35-year-old Germany legend Torsten Frings slots the resulting ball quite wide. We conceded a goal on a counter, when Eric Avila broke down the center and sent Olave in the wrong direction one-on-one. It was a bit unfortunate, I think, but our defense wasn't entirely clicking last night.

Perhaps in the run-up, we'd underestimated Toronto a bit. We certainly didn't underestimate them in the way many fans did — this team is better than your typical winless team, that much is certain. Maybe they're a bit unpredictable, given their desperation. Maybe, even, we were a bit jaded after a three-game road stretch where we earned but a point. Whatever the case, there were times when we looked just slightly too flat, and it nearly hurt us.

But what can you say about Jonny Steele that hasn't already been said? He came on the pitch — to some dissent from the crowd, to which I had to ask: "Did you forget his goal already?" The inimitable Mr. Steele didn't have the best first touch, nor did he have the best time passing — though certainly not as bad as some would have you believe — but that was all put to rest when, in the 93rd minute of play, he  exhibited the calm we wish all players had.

It was something out of a dream: Javier Morales, edge of the box, ball at his feet, defender in front of him. What's that? A rainbow flick. You know, nothing special. Kyle Beckerman in space, moving toward goal and drawing defenders back. A pass into him, a lunging layoff, a step, a shot. That's all it took. One shot, and we had those three points back. It wasn't the footwork this time, it was the awareness and speed of mind that made the play. Jonny Steeel was in the perfect position, and the Toronto FC back line was rocking and reeling. It had an air of inevitability to it.

Our two other goals were nothing to sniff at, either: Kyle Beckerman got on the end of a rebounding corner, grabbing his third goal of the week (something tells me this one will not be in the goal of the week running, though!), and Saborio forced a Richard Eckersley own goal on a brilliant cross in from Espindola.

Let's go over some statistics, but I'll address these more fully tomorrow, so do check back.

  • Kyle Beckerman was king, once again: 71/78 passing; two key passes; one assist; over 90 touches, giving him an 87% touch-to-pass rate; four interceptions. He truly was the anchor to our midfield.
  • Javier Morales was a bit loose in the pass, but as always, he made it count: 45/56 passing, five key passes, 28/33 passes (58% of total) in the final third.
  • Nick Rimando delivered beautifully from the back: 27/32 in passing — 9/10 in goal kicks — two saves, 3/3 in high claims, and all told, nothing he could particularly do about the two goals scored.
  • Ned Grabavoy went 46/51 in the pass, but made just one tackle. His play was good if not spectacular as he returns from injury.

Right, more tomorrow. See you then!