TFC looks strong in winning opener in Vancouver

VANCOUVER -

The Reds have been here before.

Unbeaten. Top of the Eastern Conference table. Hope beginning to seep through endless overcast clouds of uncertainty.

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But Saturday's 3-1 win here at BC Place was different from last season’s shocking season-opening victory down the road in Seattle.

Other than two goals from Jermain Defoe, there wasn’t much else that day.

Toronto FC was second best in Seattle — other than on the scoreboard — amid being pummeled for much of the second half.

The result was well-publicized, the truth hidden. Back then, the Reds weren’t nearly as good as billed.

A year later, Toronto FC is no longer — as Michael Bradley would say — a house of cards, coming from a goal back Saturday to snatch victory from what appeared to be inevitable defeat.

The Reds survived a subpar first half that saw Jozy Altidore’s equalizer cancel Octavio Rivero’s opening goal.

The Reds were fortunate, only on level terms thanks to Rivero’s epic first-half point-blank miss.

Still, they found a way to get into the locker room on level terms in one of the league’s hardest places to win.

And when they came out of halftime, things completely changed.

First-year bench boss Greg Vanney deserves much of the commendment after altering TFC’s tactics until he found the right combination.

Vanney shuffled his midfield into a diamond shape, with Bradley playing as the pivot and the club’s top playmaker, Sebastian Giovinco, roaming behind his two strikers.

The space the Whitecaps exploited so freely during the first 45 minutes closed down completely, leading to the Reds controlling the middle third until they found the game-winner.

With 30 minutes remaining, Frenchman Benoit Cheyrou picked out Justin Morrow’s overlapping run on the left. Morrow’s precision service was roofed by Robbie Findley to silence the 21,000 in attendance.

Altidore added to his Man of the Match performance when he converted a late penalty after being taken down inside the area by Pa-Modou Kah.

Remember, though, the Reds have been here before.

Something tells me that the conclusion has something else in story.



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