Sebastian Giovinco razor-sharp in Toronto FC home opener in new-look BMO Field | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sebastian Giovinco razor-sharp in Toronto FC home opener in new-look BMO Field

Toronto FC's Tsubasa Endoh (9) celebrates his goal past FC Dallas keeper Jesse Gonzalez (right) during first half MLS soccer action in Toronto on Saturday, May 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
May 07, 2016 - 8:33 PM

Toronto FC earned three points in its long-awaited home debut Saturday night. And the loud sellout crowd of 30,025 in newly renovated BMO Field got a "huge thank you" afterwards from captain Michael Bradley.

"People need to understand what a difference they make for us when they make an atmosphere like that, when they push us on like that," he said following a 1-0 win over FC Dallas.

"For us this year, there has to be a commitment to making this place somewhere where teams know coming in that they're not coming away with points easily," he added. "So I think tonight was a big step in that department."

Coach Greg Vanney, a former U.S. international, said his team was abuzz about the crowd's enthusiastic rendition of the Canadian anthem that came just minutes after the Toronto Raptors' playoff win in Miami.

"It brings a tear to my eye every time they're in full voice like that, it's so impressive," he said.

Canadian midfielder Will Johnson said he felt goosebumps during the anthem. Goalkeeper Clint Irwin said the atmosphere was better than a playoff game in raucous Seattle.

It helped that Toronto (4-3-2), which played its first eight games on the road because of the stadium upgrades, put on a show after the anthems on a cool night on the lakefront.

Sebastian Giovinco showed off his attacking genius, setting up rookie Tsubasa Endoh for his first MLS goal while terrorizing the Dallas defence. The Atomic Ant had 10 shots on goal — two on target — and could have scored or assisted on a half-dozen goals.

"He does so much for us in terms of creating things, chances both for himself and others," said Vanney. "It's impressive. No matter how many times you see it, it's still impressive. It never changes."

Giovinco has had a hand in all 10 Toronto goals this season, scoring six and assisting on the other four. Since joining Toronto for the 2015 campaign, he has been directly involved in 48 of Toronto's 68 goals (70 per cent) in league play.

Giovinco played provider in the 28th minute with a precise pass to Endoh that cleared a defender's head by what looked like the width of one sheet of paper. The Japanese rookie coralled the ball then fired a low shot into the far corner.

Endoh then raced to the corner, sliding on his knees in jubilation.

"I was thinking like 'What kind of celebration I should do,'" the 22-year-old said a tad sheepishly. "I just did a knee-slide. It was kind of bad."

Toronto had a slew of chances but failed to finish them, making for some tension in the second half.

"Good teams, big teams know how to win games, getting one goal and just finishing it off," Bradley said. "But on the other hand we probably deserved a few more goals and the fans certainly did as well. But we'll have a few more nights to pay them back."

It was only Toronto's second-ever win over Dallas — and the first since its inaugural season in 2007.

Dallas (5-4-2) has lost three straight and not scored in 292 minutes.

The visitors sent on Colombian designated player Fabian Castillo to open the second half. He sparked the offence but Dallas became vulnerable to the counter-attack in a wide-open half.

Dallas finished the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez was stretchered off with a neck injury in the 89th minute, forcing fullback Ryan Hollingshead to put on the goalie gloves for the six minutes of added time as the visitors had used all their subs.

Gonzalez parried a long-range shot from Giovinco and was clattered by an onrushing Johnson as the 'keeper dove to collect the ball. Johnson was yellow-carded on the play.

Coach Oscar Pareja wanted to see a replay but relayed that his players had called it "a very rubbish play." Vanney and Johnson both disagreed.

"That's not what their players said on the field. Nobody complained that it was a malicious challenge because it wasn't," said Johnson. "It was just a touch clumsy ... It was just a bang-bang play where I thought I had every right to go to the ball. I thought I was going to win the ball and he ended up making a great play (to get to it)."

At the other end, Irwin posted his fourth shutout of the season.

Endoh, playing at the tip of Toronto's midfield diamond, and Giovinco tormented a loose Dallas defence all night. And in central midfield, Bradley and Johnson sucked up balls and returned them to the attackers.

Saturday marked Toronto's first home game since Oct. 17.

The new canopies above the east, west and south stands came in handy as fans arrived to grey skies and a smattering of rain.

The electronic ad hoarding strips looked crisper. And the new lighting system also appeared an update. The north stand, with its small pockets of temporary seats and standing patio seemed bare, however. That area will become a CFL endzone when the Argos play.

For all the caterwauling from some quarters of TFC supporters reluctant to share their home, it still looked like a soccer stadium.

FC Dallas arrived on the heels of two lopsided road defeats — 4-0 to the Red Bulls and 3-0 to Vancouver.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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