BY MARC WEBER
From his first touches of the preseason, there’s been no questioning what Ansu Toure can bring to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
After a memorable Tuesday night at Swangard Stadium, the question of when his considerable skill will pay off for the club is no longer relevant.
The Liberian-American winger struck his first two Whitecaps goals in front of an over-capacity crowd of 5,688 at Swangard Stadium, leading Vancouver to an impressive, important 2-0 victory over MLS side Toronto FC.
If Toure’s first goal was huge, his second was monumental.
TFC must now beat the Montreal Impact 4-0 on June 18, in Montreal, or the Whitecaps win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship and advance to represent Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League.
A 1-0 scoreline for the Whitecaps (2-1-0) on Tuesday and Toronto (2-1-0) could have forced a drawing of a name to determine the tournament winner by virtue of a 2-0 win over Montreal (0-3-0).
“We are not through yet,” cautioned Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson, “but if it ends up that way, then I’m just delighted.”
He had to say that. But his post-game display in front of the bench spoke of far greater emotions.
The 57-year-old from Iceland did a forward roll, sprung up and tossed his marker high into the air — the Teitur Tumble.
“I don’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I just did it.”
He was equally elated to see Toure capitalize on his chances. Thordarson went hard after the 27-year-old tricky midfielder in the off-season, the club buying him out from USL-1 side Miami FC.
Until Tuesday, Toure had best been known for trying to do too much as a Whitecap. This time he did just enough, and it proved to be everything Vancouver needed to improve to 2-1-1 all-time against TFC.
Toure banged in the opener 31 minutes in when TFC keeper Greg Sutton tipped Wes Knight’s curling shot into harm’s way five yards from goal. The second goal, in the 81st, was a screamer from 17 yards out on the right side.
“I said to him at the end of the game, ‘Finally, Ansu. Finally it came,’” said Thordarson. “He’s a great player. He has used a little bit of time to learn the way we are doing things, but he is really working hard.”
Toronto certainly had its chances to avenge its second-place Nutrilite finish behind Montreal last year. Dwayne De Rosario constantly pumped balls into dangerous areas but his teammates failed to connect, most notably Chad Barrett who headed straight into Jay Nolly’s hands from five yards early in the second half.
“If you’re not clinical in front of goal, you’re not going to get anything. You get punished,” seethed TFC coach Chris Cummins. “There’s players in there calling players out right now, which is right.”
Nolly didn’t have to be spectacular — and he needed a goal line clearance from Lyle Martin and help from his right post — but he only allowed one goal in four Nutrilite games.
“Sometimes the ball goes your way,” he said bashfully. “It was good we had it at home. We had a lot of energy out there and did what we wanted to do.”
© Copyright (c) The Province