Jermain Defoe leads Toronto FC past Red Bulls
TFC snaps 3-game losing streak
Jermain Defoe's anguish at being snubbed by England is still keenly felt. It doesn't help that reporters keep asking him about it, each question ripping off another part of the scab.
"Every day I wake up, it's still frustrating and it's still baffling (as) to why I wasn't selected," he said Saturday. "But you've got to move on."
The 31-year-old striker wrapped up a week that started with his relegation to England's World Cup taxi squad with a rocket of a goal to help Toronto FC to a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls before 22,591 on a sunny afternoon at BMO Field.
In truth, Defoe could have had even more on the day. But his 12th-minute blast into the top of the Red Bulls' goal spoke volumes.
"That's exactly how I thought he would react," said Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen, "A brilliant goal, wasn't it?
"That's Jermain Defoe. And that's why England will miss him dearly, I think, come World Cup time."
Red Bulls star Thierry Henry was also full of praise.
"Jermain Defoe has been doing this since he was 14 years old and as long as he plays he will do that," said the French forward.
Defoe downplayed the significance of his strike, "because I've been doing that for my whole career. And people know that."
"That's what I've done since I've been over here," added Defoe, who now has four goals in five MLS games. "It's not my first goal I've just continued to do what I do. Work hard and stay positive and get my goals."
But prompted again, Defoe acknowledged the goal was a littler sweet.
"It's only normal, when you get disappointment, to try and prove people wrong. And just to remind people that, at the end of the day, this is what I'm doing. And I think I did that today."
Defoe, who has 19 goals and 55 caps for his country, could still be called up to the 23-man main England squad in event of injury.
Defoe didn't even see his goal go in. He hit it and went flying as a defender clattered into him.
"It was funny because I was on the floor," he said. "I looked at the crowd and everyone was celebrating it so I thought 'OK, it went in."'
England's loss is clearly Toronto's gain.
"He's a massive part of what's going on here. Our talisman, so to speak. He gets the goals that win us games," midfielder Bradley Orr said of Defoe.
Moore scores in stoppage-time
Luke Moore scored late in stoppage-time as Toronto snapped its three-game losing streak.
On a day where Arsenal won the FA Cup at Wembley, former Gunners star Henry — while showing flashes of his brilliance — was relegated to a supporting role as the Red Bulls saw their 10-game unbeaten streak against Toronto snapped.
Both Defoe and Henry made their names scoring goals for north London clubs in the English Premier League.
Defoe collected 153 goals for Tottenham while the 36-year-old Henry potted 228 for Arsenal. The New York attack also featured English forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, who came into the game leading MLS with nine goals this season.
Toronto (4-4-0) had lost four out of its last five games after opening the MLS campaign with two consecutive wins.
New York (3-4-5) was coming off an ugly 5-4 loss to the previously winless Chicago Fire, which snapped its four-game undefeated streak. And the Red Bulls looked sloppy Saturday, turning the ball over in the early going.
A poor pass from fullback Kosuke Kimura led to Toronto's first goal when Orr beat Dax McCarty to the ball in midfield and drove forward. He spotted Defoe and slotted a perfect pass, with the striker hammering a right-footed rocket into the top of the net in the 12th minute.
Orr, a defender, moved into midfield to help fill the void left by Michael Bradley (with the U.S. World Cup team), Brazilian winger Jackson (concussion) and newly acquired Collen Warner (suspended). He gave all the credit to Defoe on the goal, saying he made the move that created the opening for the pass.
"He makes your mind up. His movement's that good. World-class. He makes your mind up," said Orr, who had a fine game.
Moore, in his home debut, scored his first goal for Toronto with a tap-in after a defensive miscommunication. A long goal kick by Toronto's Joe Bendik turned into disaster for New York when goalie Luis Robles collided with defender Chris Duval, leaving Moore to dribble the ball in.
Still it was far from a complete performance from an undermanned Toronto squad. At times, the Red Bulls sliced through the home side but could not finish.
Toronto wobbled early in the second half and New York missed a glorious opportunity to tie it in the 62nd minute when Wright-Phillips, facing an empty goal, shockingly skied the ball after Bendik palmed away a dangerous cross.
Both teams have lost stars to the World Cup: fullback Roy Miller (Costa Rica) and midfielder Tim Cahill (Australia) for New York and Bradley (U.S.) for Toronto. Goalie Julio Cesar, who had been slated to play for Toronto on Saturday before joining Brazil, was out with the flu.
The game may cost Toronto. Midfielder Jonathan Osorio played the whole game despite having his hand stepped on in the opening minutes. He was due for an X-ray later, amid fears of a fracture.
Toronto started rookie Nick Hagglund at centre back, shifting Doneil Henry to the bench. In his last three games, the 21-year-old Canadian international has given up two penalties and a giveaway that led to a goal.
Nelsen offered a different explanation, saying Henry had played 120 minutes during the midweek Amway Canadian Championship semifinal in Vancouver and had a sore quad and head knock.
"I just felt like he needed a rest and Nick had kind of deserved his chance," Nelsen said.
Faced with one of the game's greats in Henry, Hagglund acquitted himself well on the day.
Henry introduced himself to Hagglund by racing past the rookie and then felling him with a late tackle that earned a yellow card in the sixth minute. On the plus side, Hagglund got to shake hands with a repentant Henry.
A laughing Hagglund said his thought at the time was "Foul me again, I'll shake your hand again."
The Red Bulls had not lost to Toronto since June 24, 2009, a 7-0-3 stretch that saw them outscore TFC 25-5.
"Obviously, the first half we weren't good enough," said New York coach Mike Petke, who took solace in an improved second-half showing. "The pitch was a bit bobbly but that was no excuse for how bad on the ball we were. We had too many giveaways, too many loose passes and too many instances where we gave them the ball back too easily."