Tuesday, August 4, 2009
BAYAMON, PR – On a night of missed chances, the capitalizing of an error in the first leg by the Islanders for the lone goal loomed larger and larger as each minute ticked away at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Puerto Rico Tuesday. In the end, Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC was unable to find a way past Bill Gaudette, who sent the USL-1 side onto the Group Stage of the CONCACAF Champions League for a second straight year in the 0-0 draw.
Puerto Rico’s Nicholas Addlery sent a shot from 19 yards out in the 13th minute of the match off the right post with the opposite upright later denying Toronto’s Danny Dichio from eight yards out 13 minutes from time.
A header in the final minute by Chad Barrett in the middle of the box glanced wide of the right post on the final play of the match with Gaudette watching comfortably, knowing that Toronto’s Champions League experience was going out along with the ball.
The Islanders join Group C with pre-seeded Saprissa of Costa Rica and the Columbus Crew of MLS, the former club of Gaudette. The fourth side is yet to be determined although Mexican power Cruz Azul holds a 6-2 advantage over Herediano from the first leg and is expected to advance. Cruz Azul was the club that eliminated Puerto Rico in penalties kicks during the semifinal stage of the tournament earlier in the year. It may be a tough group for Puerto Rico with Saprissa possibly out to avenge fellow Costa Rican powerhouse Alajuelense’s early exit last year in the Preliminary Round at the hands of the Islanders.
With the Islanders defense continuing its stifling play from the first leg limiting Toronto’s ability to create scoring opportunities inside the area, the visitors often relied on shots from long range on the night. The Canadian side could only watch as the attempts either soared high over the crossbar or were parried away by Gaudette.
A free kick from Ali Gerba from distance in the 16th skipped into the box, but the netminder knocked it wide of goal.
Five minutes later, a cross into the box from Cristian Arrieta in the 18th minute created a dangerous opportunity for Addlery, but he was unable to fully connect with his header, skimming off and flying wide.
Toronto had a dangerous opportunity in the 29th minute after Marvelle Wynne had driven down into the box, but a scramble in the middle of the area ended with Pablo Vitti’s shot being blocked and cleared by the Puerto Rico defense.
A header from Vitti in the center of the area went straight to Gaudette in the 38th for an easy catch and a low shot to the near post from 16 yards out on the right side of the area from Gerba was smothered by the goalkeeper coolly in the to minutes later.
A ball into the box six minutes into the second half found Petter Villegas behind the defense in the box, but goalkeeper Stefan Frei was too close and snared the ball off his initial touch to spoil the one-on-one.
In the 53rd minute, Gaudette made a great save, knocking a rifled, long range effort from Amado Guevara over the bar.
In minute 61, a cross from Guevara found Vitti in the middle, but his header was tipped over the bar at the last second by Gaudette. A minute later Wynne fired a 25-yard shot toward the upper left corner that missed by a few yards.
Former USL star Dwayne De Rosario fired over the bar from long range in the 68th.
Barret fired a shot on frame in the 77th led to Toronto’s best chance of the night. Gaudette stopped the shot, but the rebound stayed in the box and Dichio would turn on the loose ball and send it clanging off the post with pace in the scramble.
James Marcelin had a late shot from the top of the box after a bit of work from sub and first leg goal scorer Kendall Jagdeosingh. The attempt deflected off the adjacent Jagdeosingh and nearly slipped into the upper right corner, but Frei was in position.
In the 84th minute, a ball coming out of the area fell to Jonathan Steele, who struck it on the volley from 30 yards head on just over the goal.
Confusion abounded in the 88th minute when Jagdeosingh was sent off with a straight red on a controversial call that had no apparent attribution during the match.
Then, three minutes into stoppage time, Barret’s header rolled over the end line and with Gaudette’s ensuing goal kick came the final whistle.