TORONTO – A day after John Carver resigned as head coach, Chris Cummins helped lead Toronto FC move into first place in Major Soccer League’s Eastern Conference.
Danny Dichio scored in the 54th minute and rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei made a couple of key saves in the final minutes as Toronto FC beat the Kansas City Wizards 1-0 Sunday before a crowd of 20,056 at BMO Field.
It was the second straight game Cummins has directed TFC to a win from the sidelines, and the first since Carver resigned for personal reasons Saturday. But Cummins cautioned that it’s too early to get overly excited about Toronto’s recent form.
“Two or three weeks ago we were rock bottom, we were disappointed with where we were,” Cummins said. “We haven’t done anything yet. Come the end of the season, let’s see where we are.”
Frei earned his second consecutive shutout for Toronto (3-2-2) while Dichio, making his second start of the season, scored his first goal since June 14, 2008, in a game against Colorado .
Cummins, assisted by Nick Dasovic, directed Toronto FC from the sidelines as he did in Wednesday’s 1-0 victory over previously undefeated Chivas USA at BMO Field. Carver watched Wednesday’s game from a private box prior to his resignation.
“We didn’t play a good first half and (Cummins) came in and adjusted a couple of things,” Dichio said. “I thought the defence played fantastically well and the young keeper made some critical saves in the dying minutes.”
Kansas City (3-3-1) had scored a goal in 18 consecutive matches and had not been shut out since Aug. 2, 2008.
“It was a very competitive game, a game that came down to a play or two,” said Wizards coach Curt Onalfo. “In the first half I thought we played extremely well. I thought we were the better team away from home.”
Toronto FC again went with three strikers up front with Dichio, Chad Barrett and Pablo Vitti. In the second half, Barrett played a little wider and that created some chances for Vitti who just failed to connect.
“I thought the chances we created were first class,” Cummins said. “I start worrying when we don’t create chances. We can always improve on the finishing.”
Toronto has played three games in a week, starting with a 3-2 to FC Dallas last Sunday in Frisco, Tex., when they came back from two goals down to tie 2-2 and then lost on a late penalty. Carver was fined US$750 for his comments about the officiating.
“We’ve had three games now in seven days and we’re looking to freshen it up but I’ve got to say physically, again the lads, unbelievable,” Cummins said.
Kansas City, who defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Thursday and were unbeaten in four games, were the better side in the first half. But Toronto FC came on stronger in the second and opened play up, applying some pressure.
Toronto finally came through on Dichio’s goal with Sam Cronin and Marvell Wynne picking up assists.
Kansas City tried to press after the goal and TFC had some chances on the counterattack, but goalkeeper Kevin Hartman made a couple of good saves to keep the Wizards’ chances alive.
Then it was Frei’s turn at the other end, first saving a Herculez Gomez shot in the 88th minute and then deflecting a shot from Claudio Lopez over the bar in the 90th minute.
“It’s more a reaction save,” Frei said on the stop on Lopez. “It’s what we work on in practice. I can’t really tell you what I was thinking or what really happened.”
The shutouts are Frei’s first as a professional.
“It’s exciting but more important, we’ve got two wins in a row,” he said.
Notes: The Wizards were without midfielder Jack Jewsbury who has a concussion. . . Barrett came out of the game in the 84th minute for Rohan Ricketts when he had a cramp. . . The teams don’t meet again in the regular season, Toronto won the season opener 3-2 in Kansas City on March 21.