Mar 2, 2013, 9:12 PM EDT
Major League Soccer teams bring in players like Nigel Reo-Coker to do this very thing: to make a giant difference, to change the game in meaningful ways.
Preferably, they’ll “change” the game straight-away, from a starting 11 position. But Vancouver and manager Martin Rennie will surely take it this way, too.
Reo-Coker’s second half introduction – his first MLS minutes after years in England – completely changed things Saturday as the Whitecaps finally took hold of matters against a scrappy, visiting Toronto team that is far from its final version. Gershon Koffie had the goal in Vancouver’s important 1-0 win over TFC (important because it’s a match Rennie’s team should have, and needed to win.)
After a half of blah on both sides (but probably one the visitors felt better about), Reo-Coker came in and stabilized the midfield from one of the holding spots in Vancouver’s 4-2-3-1.
His positioning, possession, leadership and guiding voice changed everything for the home team.
The vastly improved possession was just a start. His presence pushed Kenny Miller, now an attacking central midfielder for Rennie, apparently, higher up the field. That was helpful.
It added shape to a match that needed some. It helped keep the ball in TFC’s end, keeping the scrappy visitors mostly pinned back for the second half.
It all allowed Darren Mattocks to be more dangerous, as his touches came closer to the TFC goal. Or they came on the break, as Reo-Coker showed a greater awareness of when to go, go go … and when to stay more patient.
And the amount of possession subtracted from Toronto mitigated the effect of a weakened Vancouver defense; ‘Caps center back Jay DeMerit limped off after just seven minutes, surely a point of major concern for the club going forward.
Full highlight pack to come; until then, here is the game’s only goal:
- US women lose second straight for first time since 2001 after ugly 5-3 defeat to Denmark 2
- Premier League Playback: Fifth place finish for Man United? Superstar Shaw, Arsenal’s big chance 0
- Bayern Munich star Toni Kroos fails to rule out Manchester United move 6
- Manchester United set to bid $50 million for Southampton’s star duo 0
- In MLS, West is best… at least for a weekend 1
- Netherlands and Roma on alert after Kevin Strootman carted off against Napoli 0
- TV Ratings for MLS Season Opener Increase 283% in 1 Year
- Liga MX Radar: Michael Arroyo Scores a Quad
- Sounders FC Monday Morning Breakdown
- Maidana Stars in Impressive Philly Newbie Trio
- Barnsley Send Brek Shea Back to Stoke after Fight with Fan
- Yanks in Mexico: Torres Scores in Tigres Win, Garza Gives Solid Display
- Julio Cesar Put his Semester in Toronto at Risk
- Getafe Fire Luis Garcia, Hire Cosmin Contra as New Manager
- Former Sounders Teammates Rosales and Hurtado Faced off in LA
- The Clock is Ticking for Tim Sherwood at Spurs