Toronto FC wins 2009 Nutrilite opener

Toronto FC was all business as it collected the first three points in the 2009 Nutrilite Canadian Championship opener. The host won 1:0 over visiting Vancouver Whitecaps FC, scoring within three minutes of the opening whistle. Canadian midfielder Kevin Harmse scored the lone goal on a header.

"This was a big game for us," said Toronto FC coach Chris Cummins. "We are taking (this championship) seriously and you saw that with the team we put out."

It took Toronto FC all but three minutes to hit the back of the goal, doing so after a run by Dwayne De Rosario down the left side. De Rosario fired it into the box where Harmse headed the ball into the netting.

Up 1-0, Toronto FC continued to come on the attack. In the 8th minute, Chad Barrett found a run into the box, but couldn't get a strong enough shot to trouble the opposition. In the 17th minute on the team's first corner kick, Toronto FC had a pair of chances stopped by the Vancouver defence.

As the half wore on and the rain started to come down harder, Toronto FC perhaps lifted its foot off the pedal. The Whitecaps did manage a few shots, but only one on target in the first 45 minutes.

In the second half, Toronto FC created more chances, although the team couldn't match its opening intensity. Still, in the 49th minute, Barrett forced Whitecaps FC's goalkeeper Jay Nolly to make a good save. In the 55th minute, De Rosario created a terrific chance that just went wide. Again in the 64th minute, a pressing Toronto FC forced the Vancouver defence to clear the ball.

Late in the game, Whitecaps FC could have tied the score, but goalkeeper Stefan Frei made a great kick save to keep the clean sheet. Along with Frei's performance, central defender Nana Attakora was named Toronto FC's Man of the Match. Attakora-Gyan was playing his first full 90 minutes since suffering a hip flexor injury at the 2009 CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship in March.

"There are two big guys (Vancouver's forwards Charles Gbeke and Marlon James), but I think with my pace I was able to stick with them," said Attakora-Gyan.

Toronto FC collected three points in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship opener for the second year in a row. Next Wednesday 13 May, Toronto FC will aim for another three points as it hosts the defending champion Impact de Montréal. The 13 May match at BMO Field kicks off at 20.00 ET / 17.00 PT.

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