The Vancouver Whitecaps opened their 2011 season with a victory in their MLS franchise debut with a 4-2 victory over Canadian rivals Toronto FC. The home side got goals from Atiba Harris, Vancouverite Terry Dunfield and two goals from recent DP signing Eric Hassli. Toronto responded with goals from Maicon Santos and Captain Dwayne De Rosario. The Whitecaps surprised many with their offensive output as many “experts” in MLS world questioned where the goals were going to come from.
The outburst began 15 minutes in when Hassli received a cross into the box by Chiumiento, that was momentarily touched by Harris, and scored the Caps first ever goal with a left foot. TFC then replied in the 20th minute as Santos sent the ball through to De Rosario, who got in behind Boxall, and the captain of TFC slid it past Nolly for a historic 8,000th goal in MLS history. Only 6 minutes later Chiumiento laid the ball perfectly for local Terry Dunfield who got past the TFC backline to score the Caps 2nd goal of the half and then leap into the Empire Field crowd.
The second half began with 1st half MVP Chiumiento being subbed off by Nizar Khalfan due to injury but it proved not to slow down the Whitecaps. They were able to take advantage of the large number of corner kicks earned in the game with a goal by Atiba Harris in the 63rd minute. The corner came into the box and bounced off a couple player right to Harris, who could not make a mistake from there, to give the Whitecaps a 3-1 lead. The rout seemed to be on in the 72nd minute when 2nd half sub Wes Knight was sent in alone on goal. Knight drew Frei out of the net and was able to lay the ball for Hassli to finish and collect his second in his MLS debut. The Whitecaps defenders had a bit of a letdown 2 minutes later when Santos fired a rocket from outside the box to bring TFC to within two. De Rosario had another chance with a free kick but sailed it over the bar as TFC fell to the MLS rookies from Vancouver.
While TFC seemed to maintain possession of the ball, especially in the first half, the Caps outshot Toronto and had an advantage of 12-1 for corner kicks won. It was a very impressive debut for the Whitecaps and definitely something that can be built upon in the weeks to come. The Whitecaps got good service from their wings as starters Chiumiento and Teibert had TFC defenders running after them. The size and speed combination of Harris and Hassli was also two much for beleaguered backline to handle. The defense had a couple of breakdowns which TFC made them pay for but overall the quality of chances was minimal. The Whitecaps next face last year’s expansion team the Philadelphia Union on the road next Saturday where they hope to continue their initial success.