Defoe leads Toronto FC to 2-1 victory over Sounders

  • By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
  • Saturday, March 15, 2014 4:18pm
  • SportsSports

The Seattle Sounders made a couple of major mistakes Saturday against a team that spent its offseason acquiring the kind of players who punish mistakes.

In this case, Toronto FC got what it paid for as new designated player Jermaine Defoe converted both blunders into goals that gave the Reds a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field.

“We kind of gifted them two goals a little bit: some breakdowns and quick turnovers,” Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “The quality that they have, they were obviously going to take their chances. It’s tough to trail two-zero at home, obviously; but in the second half we did well.”

Seattle’s goal came from designed player Clint Dempsey.

Toronto moved ahead in the 17th minute by taking advantage of Seattle’s disorganization as midfielder Brad Evans returned to the pitch after suffering a leg injury that would later force him out for good. Jonathan Osorio sent a pass to Defoe, who split the defense behind Chad Marshall and between DeAndre Yedlin and Djimi Traore before sending his shot past Frei.

“We didn’t react quick,” Traore said. “Brad had been injured, and there was a misunderstanding on the team and nobody takes his position. It’s a very important position, and on that goal we missed him. At the end of the day it’s like we gave them two goals.”

The second came in the 24th minute, when Seattle midfielder Marco Pappa rolled a soft pass into a gulf of space behind him. Defoe was the first to the ball, cut past Traore and beat Frei to the far post.

“I was feeling like I have pressure on my back, so I played it back, which is a big mistake,” Pappa said. “For sure, I have to admit my mistakes, and this is soccer life also. I feel sorry because we tried to put our best reaction into the game, and we could not come back.”

Seattle halved the lead in the 68th minute when a couple of its own DPs combined: Obafemi Martins finding Dempsey at the top of the penalty area, where he took one touch before beating Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar to the near post. It was Dempsey’s first goal of the season and second since joining the Sounders last August.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It feels good to have contributed in a positive way, but at the same time we’re not happy with the result. I thought we did a better job in the second half moving the ball. They kind of set back and were trying to grind out the three points. I thought we created some good chances.”

The result marked an encouraging debut for new-look Toronto (1-0-0), which over the off-season brought in high-profile players such as Defoe, Cesar, Michael Bradley and Dwayne De Rosario.

In addition to the Defoe goals, Bradley took one shot and launched five corner kicks, and Cesar made one save.

“Obviously they are a better team,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.

“When you have players like Bradley and Defoe, you’re going to be a better team. But when you look at the game I think we carried the game: We possessed the ball, they were looking to counterattack. … I don’t know if they could play week in, week out and be on the wrong side of possession, as they were today.”

Seattle fell to 1-1-0 but led on shots (13-8), shots on target (7-3) and had 68 percent of the possession.

The Sounders open their road schedule Saturday at Montreal.

Added time

Evans left in the 29th minute and was replaced by former Mexican international Gonzalo Pineda in his Sounders debut. Schmid had no immediate word on the extent of Evans’ injury. … When Evan left, Dempsey took the captain’s armband. … The Sounders suffered a franchise-record 25 fouls for the second consecutive week. … Toronto won in Seattle for the first time and ended a five-game losing streak in the series. … The announced attendance was 38,441.

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