After conceding twice in the first half, Toronto FC scored four unanswered goals in a come-from-behind victory Saturday night at BMO field. Another fantastic performance by Jermain Defoe, scoring the game winner in the 63rd minute and a second in the 89th minute, which capped a resilient display from the Reds.
A slow start from Toronto allowed Houston to turn up the pressure early in first half. In the 13th minute, poor communication on behalf of centre-backs Doneil Henry and Steven Caldwell allowed the Dynamo to strike first via Brad Davis.
The Reds continued to soak up pressure early on, as Doneil Henry was forced to cut out several of Houston’s attacks. The Brampton, Ontario native was exceptional all game long (save for the early goal), displaying solid defensive awareness at the heart of Toronto’s defense.
In the 27th minute, Toronto earned a free kick outside of the 18-yard box. Defoe stepped up and forced a save from Houston’s Tally Hall.
The Dynamo went up 2-0 just before the half-hour mark. Similar to the first goal allowed, right-back Mark Bloom was pulled inside by an attacker, midfielder Collen Warner failed to track Brad Davis, who tucked in his second of the night.
The Reds finally picked up the pace, creating a series of free-kick opportunities, which were wasted unfortunately. Finally in the 39th minute, Defoe delivered an inviting cross into the box forcing a save from Hall. Jonathan Osorio followed up instinctively, heading home the rebound for his first of the campaign.
Momentum was now with Toronto as they looked to find an equalizer before half-time. Their efforts would pay off, after a clinical piece of counter-attacking football just on the stroke of half-time. Osorio played the ball up from just outside his own box to a sprinting Defoe. He then unselfishly laid the ball off to Dominic Oduro, who was denied at first by Hall, but powered in his rebound to tie the game.
The second half was virtually all Toronto’s. The speed of Oduro and trickery of Jackson proved difficult for Houston to contain.
In the 63rd minute, TFC would score their go ahead goal in a beautiful build-up. Brazilian Jackson back-heeled the ball into the path of Osorio, who played it to Defoe in the middle. The former Tottenham Hotspur let the ball run, before sprinting around two Houston defenders and slotting it through Hall’s legs.
Substitute Gilberto had a glorious opportunity in the 83rd minute to make it 4-2. Untested, Gilberto struck the ball just wide of the left goalpost.
In the dying minutes of the match, Defoe capitalized on a poor back-pass from the Dynamo defense. The striker picked up the ball from just inside the half-way line and was one-on-one with Houston keeper Tally Hall. Defoe made no mistake sliding the ball between Hall’s legs for his tenth goal of the season.
All in all, this was a character defining victory for the Reds. Sitting in third place with three games in hand on the division leading D.C. United and seven points back, Toronto must win versus inferior opposition.
Positive notes to take away from this game:
-Oduro’s speed caused many problems for Houston’s defenders, although he could do with some improvement of his first touch (on the ball).
-Jonathan Osorio looked lively in the midfield, using his creativity to set-up many of Toronto’s chances.
-Goalkeeper Joe Bendik has proven to be a solid replacement for Julio Cesar (Missing due to World Cup duty). The 25 year-old made several excellent saves during the second-half.
J.Bendik, D. Henry, S. Caldwell (B. Orr 69′), J. Morrow, M. Bloom, Jackson, J. Osorio, C. Warner, J. Defoe, L. Moore (Gilberto 80′), D. Oduro (D. Lovitz 58′).