TFC Beats Real Salt Lake, Extends Win Streak to Three
Tosaint Ricketts all ready had one favourable memory at BMO Field. He added another one on Wednesday night.
The Edmonton native scored his first MLS goal in just his third league appearance as Toronto FC topped Real Salt Lake 1-0.
BMO Field is also where Ricketts scored his first international goal for Canada during a friendly against Ecuador in June 2011.
“It felt like my first goal for Canada here at BMO,” said Ricketts, who signed with TFC on July 20. “This is a special place for me. I love to play here. I’m waiting for those chances, those balls in behind. I couldn’t sleep for a few nights after hitting the post a couple weeks ago.”
Toronto head coach Greg Vanney’s decision to replace forward Jordan Hamilton with Ricketts in the 56th minute paid off. Goalkeeper Alex Bono’s free kick was redirected by Jozy Altidore to the foot of Ricketts, who beat a challenging Nick Rimando to the left side for his first goal in MLS.
The victory allowed Toronto (9-7-6) to extend its win streak to a season-high three games and moved the Reds into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Reds are also unbeaten in eight straight at home.
“Tosaint, he gives you good, hard, fully-committed runs and tries to get the goal,” Vanney said. “He’s got incredible pace and we’ve got guys that can get the ball in the right places and it worked out.
“For him to get himself started here at Toronto is fantastic for him.”
Bono made a huge save in the 77th minute to preserve the 1-0 lead, executing a perfect challenge on Juan Manuel Martinez in the area. The shutout was the third clean sheet of the season for Bono.
Toronto has scored seven goals without conceding, which ties a club record. The Reds also have nine clean sheets this season, setting a new club record. The previous mark of eight clean sheets was set in 2010.
“The leaking of goals that we had last year needed to be dealt with immediately,” Vanney said of his club’s improved defensive play. “That started with the off-season signings, went through the mentality of pre-season and stuck through this group all the way through to today. It needs to be our mantra as we try to accomplish big things this year.”
Real Salt Lake (9-7-7) snapped its three-game unbeaten streak with the loss. A victory would have moved Real into fourth in the Western Conference.
Both teams started slow, the result of playing two games in four nights. The first shot on target wasn’t registered until the 39th minute when Real forward Joao Plata’s left-foot shot from just outside the area was saved by a challenging Bono.
“Our second game on the road in a difficult situation and I couldn’t be more proud of our team,” said Real Salt Lake coach Jeff Cassar. “The energy was right, the quality was right, they did everything that was asked of them and we just got caught up on one play and that can’t happen.
“When you don’t put the ball in the back of the net the defensive mistakes are amplified.”
Sebastian Giovinco had a pair of glorious opportunities in the 42nd minute, but wasn’t able to find the back of the net. His first opportunity from the middle of the area was headed away by a Salt Lake defender. Then, off a cross from Hamilton, Giovinco’s strike went wide left.