Home continues to be ever so sweet for Toronto FC as it cruised to a 3-1 win Saturday over the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field.
Rohan Ricketts netted the first two goals of his MLS career in the second half, while Danny Dichio opened the scoring with a brilliant volley in the first half for Toronto (6-4-2).
Christian Gomez spoiled the Toronto shutout with his third goal of the season on a free kick in the 80th minute for Colorado (5-6-0).
The second-year franchise has outscored its opponents 10-2 at home, where its record improves to 5-0-2. Toronto's last loss at BMO Field was Sept. 22, 2007, the third last game of their inaugural Major League Soccer season.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that Toronto was missing five starters to international team duties, but still managed to put forth a strong effort.
Starting goalkeeper Greg Sutton and defender Jim Brennan are with the Canadian national team as they prepare to face St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sunday in the first leg of a home-and-home qualifying series.
Midfielder Maurice Edu is with the U.S. national squad, which will face Barbados in a regional qualifier, defender Tyrone Marshall is with Jamaica, which is playing the Bahamas, and midfielder Amado Guevara is with the Honduran side for its game against Puerto Rico.
"That's great credit to the boys who have come in, they've worked long and hard for their chance to come in," Dichio said. "It's a hard situation, you're under a lot of pressure coming into a winning team at home."
Dichio at right place, right time
Missing some of their key defensive players, Toronto had some early breakdowns that gave Colorado some opportunities.
"That's probably the slowest we started at home," Toronto manager John Carver said. "Usually when you start a game so slowly you can't recover from it, but we seemed to weather the storm, and just grew into the game. And that's a sign of a team that doesn't give up and is prepared to fight to the end."
Jeff Cunningham, in search of his 100th MLS goal, nearly got it in the eighth minute. He managed to get his head on a cross in the Colorado box but it sailed just over the top of the net.
Cunningham had another great chance in the 30th minute as he squeezed past a pair of defenders for a chance but flicked the ball just wide left of the Colorado goal.
Dichio finally gave Toronto the lead as he capitalized on a poor defensive play from Colorado in the 37th minute.
As Rapids defender Stephen Keel attempted to clear the ball from the penalty box with a header it went right to Dichio at the top right corner of the box.
Toronto's leading goal scorer didn't hesitate, rifling a right-footed volley past Colorado 'keeper Preston Burpo and into the top left corner to stake his team to a 1-0 lead.
By the end of the half, Toronto had five shots on goal to the Rapids' two.
Ricketts notched his first MLS tally in the 58th minute. Toronto goalkeeper Brian Edwards sent a long pass to midfield that was misplayed by Colorado defender Cesar Zambrano, resulting in a wide open path to the goal for Ricketts.
The Toronto midfielder uncorked a hard low blast from 18 feet out that eluded Burpo and doubled the home team's lead to 2-0.
"Yesterday I was laying there and I was thinking, 'when am I going to score? Because I don't really score, and why is that when I'm so skillful?'" Ricketts said. "Now hopefully this is the beginning and I can score a few more goals."
Midfielder Laurent Robert nearly scored Toronto's third goal in the 66th minute on a free kick from the top of the box, but Burpo managed to deflect it off his left post and out.
Ricketts, who was acquired in April after he was released from English side Barnsley, struck again in the 66th minute with a quick shot from just inside the penalty area for a 3-0 Toronto advantage.
"I just felt free, like `I can't believe I scored,"' Ricketts said of his performance. "Especially the second one. I scored two goals in one game, I've never done that."
Gomez put Colorado on the board with his free kick that curved around the wall of defenders and past Edwards, who was making his third start of the season for Toronto.
That goal may have been too little, too late for Colorado, but Carver still wasn't pleased with it.
"I wanted to keep a clean sheet," Carver said. "We've got to be professional that when you take a commanding lead, drive it home and punish the opposition as much as you can."
Toronto will attempt to continue its roll at home when it hosts the Kansas City Wizards on June 21 (3:30 p.m., CBC, CBCSports.ca).