Two second-half goals sparked Toronto FC to their first league win in more than a month, beating Houston 2-1 in front of 20,259 fans at BMO Field on Saturday.
The story of the game was Reds striker Joao Plata, who scored on a penalty and assisted Maicon Santos for the game’s winning goal.
Although Plata was the most visible TFC player on the night, it was midfielder Jacob Peterson's quickness that drew the penalty that Plata converted. After scooping up an errant clearance attempt, Peterson cut inside before being tripped up by Houston's Andre Hainault. Plata put the penalty straight and high, tucking it just below the crossbar to score his first MLS goal.
Plata appeared to create a second penalty after dashing into the box in the 60th minute. In alone against Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall, Plata went to ground after Hall knocked the ball away. Although referee Jorge Gonzalez pointed to the spot, assistant referee Adam Wienckowski had raised the flag for offside, and the call was reversed.
In the end it did not matter, however, as the Reds seemingly used the setback as motivation to close out the game. Santos duly doubled the score after collecting a pass from Plata. On a full sprint, the diminutive forward fed a streaking Santos, who fired it low and hard past Hall.
A late goal by Houston made for a nervous stoppage-time for the home side after Lovel Palmer scored his first goal of the season in the 87th minute when he beat Stefan Frei off a feed from Jamaican teammate Je-Vaughn Watson. However, it proved to be too little too late, and the Dynamo lost for the second time in as many games.
For the first 10 minutes, the Reds enjoyed all kinds of space down the wings and again it was Plata causing the difficulty. Toronto, however, could not capitalize on the early momentum. The closest chance early on came in the 11th minute when Julian de Guzman sent a 35-yard screamer toward goal that was just tipped over by Hall.
Houston Dynamo (3-3-3) vs. Toronto FC (2-3-4)
May 07, 2011 -- BMO Field, Toronto, ON, Canada
TFC -- Joao Plata 1 (penalty kick) 50
TFC -- Maicon Santos 2 (Joao Plata 1, Nick Soolsma 1) 81
HOU -- Lovel Palmer 1 (Je-Vaughn Watson 2) 87
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall, Hunter Freeman (Corey Ashe 75), Bobby Boswell (Colin Clark 75), Eddie Robinson, Andre Hainault, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lovel Palmer, Geoff Cameron, Brad Davis, Cam Weaver (Will Bruin 62), Koke.
Substitutes Not Used: Mike Chabala, Tyler Deric, Jason Garey, Kofi Sarkodie.
Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Richard Eckersley, Adrian Cann, Dicoy Williams, Mikael Yourassowsky, Julian de Guzman, Jacob Peterson (Matt Gold 76), Tony Tchani, Nick Soolsma, Alen Stevanovic (Maicon Santos 75), Joao Plata (Dan Gargan 93+).
Substitutes Not Used: Danleigh Borman, Ty Harden, Milos Kocic, Nathan Sturgis.
TFC -- Dicoy Williams (caution; Reckless Foul) 42
TFC -- Richard Eckersley (caution; Reckless Foul) 88
Referee's Assistants: Adam Wienckowski; Jeff Hosking
4th Official: John McCloskey
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial