Jermain Defoe scores twice as Toronto FC defeats Seattle
Toronto FC waited patiently for this day to arrive from the moment Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe joined the club. Bradley and Defoe delivered in spades to mark the occasion appropriately with a 2-1 victory at Seattle on Saturday afternoon.
Defoe pounced twice inside the first 25 minutes to hand TFC a dream start to its grand experiment, while Bradley dictated the terms in midfield to ensure the Reds did not buckle after Clint Dempsey's equalizer or permit the home side to snatch a result in the late stages.
It took Defoe just 17 minutes to open his MLS account with a typically ruthless finish. Jonathan Osorio collected in the final third and split the Seattle centerbacks with his through ball. Defoe latched onto the pass and thumped it inside the far post with a precise finish to punish the Sounders for their inability to clear their lines.
Marco Pappa then provided Defoe with the chance to double his haul seven minutes later with a poor backpass toward his own defense. Defoe gathered the loose pass, maneuvered himself into the proper shooting position and promptly slotted inside the far post to spark wild celebrations for the visitors.
TFC's early salvos left Seattle grasping at straws for the remainder of the opening half. The home side lacked its usual verve with Brad Evans forced off through injury and Bradley running the match with his tireless efforts in the center of the park. Half-chances came and went before the interval, but the home fans voiced their modest displeasure at the halftime whistle.
Seattle improved substantially after the break in a bid to close the deficit. Osvaldo Alonso played a wonderful ball over the top for Lamar Neagle shortly after play resumed, but Neagle eventually saw himself called for a foul after jostling for position with Mark Bloom. Obafemi Martins subsequently forced Steven Caldwell to charge down an effort with his chest as the Sounders increased the pressure.
Dempsey and Martins eventually engineered the breakthrough after 68 minutes. Neagle played Martins into space on the right flank to pull apart the TFC defense. Martins latched onto the pass and spotted Dempsey making a hard run toward the near post. Dempsey received the inevitable feed and then struck home inside the near post to bring his side within a goal.
TFC dropped deeper and deeper in the second half in a bid to protect its first season-opening win since 2009. The home side pinged cross after cross into the penalty area and threw Chad Barrett and Kenny Cooper into the fray to bolster the efforts. All of the exertions went for naught as the Reds held firm to open this new era by collecting all three points.