Clinching Canadian title `a huge boost' says delighted De Rosario
MONTREAL–It's the type of victory that can transform a season.
Toronto FC, a box-office smash but on-field bust over its initial two years of existence, claimed its first trophy here Thursday night, capturing the Canadian championship with a stunning 6-1 defeat of the Montreal Impact.
Winning the three-team tournament over the runner-up Vancouver Whitecaps by goal differential, TFC moves on to the CONCACAF Champions League, opening with a home-and-away series against the Puerto Rico Islanders that begins in Toronto next month.
But more than just a chance to represent Canada in a competition featuring the best club teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, the improbable victory has sent confidence soaring amongst TFC players as they push for a place in the Major League Soccer playoffs for the first time.
"It's a huge boost," said Dwayne De Rosario, who scored the first hat trick in TFC history in the win.
"It's the fact that a lot of guys haven't experienced winning a trophy," said De Rosario, who has won four MLS Cup titles in his career. "Now, they know what it takes.
"We can use this to push us through when games aren't going our way and still grind out a result."
Cynics will be quick to point out the Impact, who like the Whitecaps play in the second-tier United Soccer Leagues First Division, were injury-riddled, rested some of their top players for a weekend game and used their back-up goalkeeper.
But after falling behind 1-0 and then completing a comeback that few outside the TFC dressing room thought possible, it's difficult to dispute it was an impressive victory.
"We've got something special building at the club," said coach Chris Cummins. "We're not going to rest on this.
"We're going to kick off from this."
That's going to be especially important as TFC (5-5-4) embarks on the second half of the MLS season. After hosting New York on Wednesday, the team will play 10 of its final 15 games on the road. TFC is 5-23-7 all-time in league games away from BMO Field.
But after going into Saputo Stadium this week and coming out with a title, the players feel much better about the challenge they are facing.
That's especially true up front, where TFC has been plagued throughout the season with a lack of scoring touch. Netting a team-record six goals will do that.
"Finally, this team clicked on all cylinders," said much-maligned striker Chad Barrett, who came on as a second-half substitute to get the tournament winning 5-1 goal and set up Amado Guevara for the insurance marker.
Rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei said while winning the trophy was nice, it was the way it happened that gives the team so much confidence.
"We can look back on this and know that we have the skills to dominate teams and put the ball in the net when we need to," he said.