Toronto FC 3 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes

TOR vs SJ May30

Toronto FC 3 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes

Toronto hosting San Jose Earthquakes for their 3rd Major League Soccer game this season at BMO field.

May 31, 2015

This is actually the first time these two sides meet at the 2015 MLS regular season.  Although the short history between the two teams should bring on a very interesting match – from the total of 12 matches these sides played against each other, Toronto won only 3.  With a new homecoming month at tor Toronto at their BMO grounds, and San Jose being outside of the conference playoff zone for now, there is a lot to prove for both teams.

TOR vs SJ May30_2

Atomic Ant Sebastian Giovinco celebrates first assist

Image Source Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Host Toronto FC is ranked 4th in the MLS Eastern Conference (5-5-1) with 17 goals.  Toronto registered in May 2 wins (1-0 on Philadelphia Union away and 1-0 on Portland Timbers at home), one loss (2-1 to Huston Dynamo at home) and one tie (1-1 vs. New England Revolution away).

 

San Jose is ranked 7th in the MLS Western Conference (5-5-3) with 14 goals.  The Earthquakes did not lose in May, where this month’s games included 2 wins (1-0 over Huston Dynamo away, and 2-0 over Columbus at home), 2 ties (1-1 vs Colorado Rapids away, and 1-1 vs Orlando FC at home).

 

Toronto is opening with its familiar diamond formation, with Forwards Luke Moore and Sebastian Giovinco up front and Midfielder Michael Bradley a step back, connecting between the midfield and attack.  Notably in the defence are ex San Jose player Justin Morrow, and Eric Zavaleta.  Toronto are missing an important attacking link tonight, Forward Jozy Altidore that is out due to a hamstring injury.

 

San Jose are starting with a nominally offensive 4-3-3 formation, with veteran Midfielder Chris Wondolowski (playing is 101 MLS match tonight) in the far right.  San Jose Earthquakes are missing Midfielder Matias Garcia, the number 10 playmaker that usually creates a lot of problems for San Jose opposition when he gets the ball.  Garcia is on the bench and unlikely to play tonight, due to a groin injury.

 

Thunderstorms and bad weather caused a 15-minute delay to kickoff.  The pitch is still wet, and players from both sides are getting used to the conditions in the first few minutes of the game.  The ball seems to be moving faster on the wet surface, which also results in less grip for the players.  Several players seem to be slipping around.

 TOR vs SJ May30_1

With speed and agility, Giovinco constantly challenged San Jose’s Defender Bernardez

Image Source: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The first good matchup appears to be building between rather-big San Jose Defender Victor Bernardez and small Toronto Forward Sebastian Giovinco.  Italian National Giovinco (a.k.a. “the atomic ant”) is one of the most agile players in the MLS, and seems to be enjoying the wet surface that slows down San Jose defenders.  All that Giovinco needs is just small gaps in order to create dangerous situations to Toronto’s opposition, and he does just that, with several shots early in the match.

 

Overall Toronto FC seems to be in better form, with penetration into San Jose’s half and several opportunities created already in the first 15 minutes of the match.  Michael Bradley is getting used to playing with Giovinco up front, delegates the ball to him and concentrates on his intended role of connecting between front and midfield.  In turn, Atomic-Ant Sebastian Giovinco manages to find small gaps, which is all he really needs in order to utilise his immense creativity and speed to create opportunities.  With Garcia out, San Jose Earthquakes desperately need an alternative to his creativity in order to deal with Giovinco.

 

And indeed it is Giovinco that sends a great ball from the far left corner, for a great diving header by Justin Morrow, to score Toronto FC’s first goal of the match (22’).  This is Morrow’s (ex San Jose player) 1st goal of the season, and 3rd MLS goal overall.  Toronto FC 1 – 0 San Jose Earthquakes.

 

However, Toronto’s joy of a lead and clean sheet was short lived.  A penalty was conceded by Toronto’s Ashtone Morgan with a hand ball in the penalty area (23’), with San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski capitalizing and scoring the penalty kick (24’).  Toronto FC 1 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes.

 

Several good attempts on both sides followed around 30’, namely with Eriq Zavaleta day dreaming a bit an missing a great opportunity by not positioning himself at the centre of the box (31’) and on the other side, Earthquakes’ Sanna Nyassi’s right-footed shot from outside the box misses to the left following a corner.

 

Efforts finally yielded for the hosts again, with Toronto’s Luke Moore passing the ball teammate Warren Creavalle in midfield, outside of the box, for a great shot into the net (33’).  This is Creavalle’s first goal this season, former Huston Dynamo player actually played under San Jose’s Coach Dominic Kinnear.  Toronto FC 2 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes. 

 

Coming back after halftime, San Jose Earthquakes appear in much better form, playing in a more attacking form and building pressure inside Toronto’s territory.  Although San Jose are being aggressive, applying pressure, taking shots and playing far better than did in the 1st halt, they still lack the final quality that is needed to finish off their attacks and capitalize on opportunities they are creating.

 

15’ into the second half, and Toronto FC seems to find its rhythm again.  Although not sure he has the creativity required to be a number 10 legendary playmaker, he picks everything up, does a fantastic job in connecting between the front and midfield, and Michael’s Bradly’s control of the game alongside Giovinco’s creativity and speed upfront, and Justin Morrow’s excellent 1-on-1 defensive work, alongside Toronto’s solid midfield, make it a team to watch this MLS season.

 

San Jose on the other hand seem to be in trouble.  The strong start of the second half was replaced again by lack of accuracy and quality in the front, and lack of organization in the back.

 

On the 70’, Giovinco again charges and leads yet another one of his numerous attacks tonight.  Coming from the left this time around, he shoots across to the centre of the box and finds fellow Toronto Forward Luke Moore, who positions himself in the centre of the box and scores from a close range his 1st goal this season.  Toronto FC 3 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes.

 

By now there is a clear winner in this game, and San Jose are in trouble, but fair play to the Earthquakes for still trying to attack and create opportunities as opposed to just shutting down and defend.

 

Sebastian Giovonco did everything for his team today, and still wants his name on the score sheet.  He is trying hard and still trying to create opportunities and take shots until the last seconds of the match.  He is almost rewarded for his efforts by winning a free kick in overtime (92′), but hits the goalpost and denied by the woodwork for the second time tonight.

 

Apart from lack of concentration that cost them a goal, Toronto FC were clearly the better team tonight.  San Jose Earthquakes need to refine their passing, and work on the finishing quality that will allow them to capitalize on opportunities (that in their benefit, they are trying to create time after time).  The Earthquakes were in the game from time to time, but Toronto FC was the well-deserving winner of this Major League Soccer match.