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Toronto FC 's Javier Martina celebrates scoring his team's opening goal against Portland Timbers during first half MLS action in Toronto on Saturday, March 26, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young (Chris Young)
Toronto FC 's Javier Martina celebrates scoring his team's opening goal against Portland Timbers during first half MLS action in Toronto on Saturday, March 26, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young (Chris Young)

The World's Game

Toronto FC dumps expansion Portland Add to ...

Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter will always stress a possession-based game, aimed at keeping the ball on the ground, but at times route one will do just fine, thank you very much.

Javier Martina's second goal of the game all but guaranteed that his fellow Dutchman got his first Major League Soccer win in the home opener as Toronto saw off the challenge of the expansion Portland Timbers in a 2-0 victory.

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And you'd be hard pressed to see a finer goal throughout the first four years of Toronto's existence. The former Ajax product ran on to goalkeeper Stefan Frei's long clearance and hammered the ball over Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, clipping the inside of the post on its way into the back of the net.

"The second one, I think is the nicest goal ever for me," the 24-year-old Dutchman said afterwards. "… I just started running, and it was a long run, the ball was bouncing good and I saw the 'keeper had decided to come a little bit out and the defender starts coming my way and I was a little tired so I think just shoot and it went in."

Winter had spent all week talking of his excitement at seeing the effect of the "12th man" as he called it, hoping that another BMO Field sellout crowd would help roar his team to victory and earn its first points of the season.

The announced attendance of 20,086 didn't have to wait long to get something to cheer about either, as Martina set the team on its way to victory in the 14th minute, collecting a feed from captain Dwayne De Rosario to poke the ball past Adin Brown, who started in net for Portland before being substituted at halftime with a hamstring injury.

Winter also showed his not afraid to admit his mistakes, maybe not verbally, but with his actions as he returned Adrian Cann to the centre of defence after his trial by fire at the hands of Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Davide Chiumiento while playing left-back last Saturday. The resulting move enabled last season's team MVP to rely on positioning and awareness instead of having his lack of pace exposed. Combined with fellow centre back Ty Harden, the pair effectively neutralized the normally lethal Kenny Cooper - who entered the game having scored six goals in his last four games against TFC - although his striker partner Jorge Perlaza should probably have done better with a pair of wide-open headers that he skied and hit straight at Frei respectively.

The only disappointment of the day was the dismissal of left-back Mikael Yourassowsky, who was sent off while being substituted in the 84th minute, picking up a second yellow for what referee Silviu Petrescu clearly felt was taking too long to leave the pitch. Winter was puzzled, but his counterpart John Spencer - who spent four years as an assistant in Houston before taking the reins in Portland - summed it up neatly, taking a swipe at the league's standard of officiating in the process.

"I think the referee told him a couple of times to get off the field and I think he just kept on walking and never paid any attention," he said, "so welcome to MLS."

Follow on Twitter: @paulattfield

 

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