Vancouver wins its first MLS game

Associated Press
Vancouver Whitecaps' Terry Dunfield jumps into the crowd to celebrate his goal against the Toronto FC during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday March 19, 2011. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)

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Davide Chumiento set up first-half goals by Eric Hassli and hometown midfielder Terry Dunfield, and the Vancouver Whitecaps won their first game in Major League Soccer, beating Toronto FC 4-2 on Saturday.

Atiba Harris scored in the 64th minute, and Hassli, who last week became the Whitecaps' first designated player, added a second goal in the 72nd minute as 23,000 boisterous fans welcomed top-level professional soccer back to Vancouver for the first time since the NASL folded in 1984.

Captain Dwayne De Rosario and Maicon Santos scored for Toronto, which opened its fifth MLS season with a sixth new coach in Aron Winter.

Whipped into a pregame frenzy by drum-banging Whitecaps part-owner Steve Nash, who flew up between NBA games with the Phoenix Suns, the fans at Empire Field didn't have to wait long to celebrate.

After a couple of nervous moments and early saves by Vancouver goalie Jay Nolly, Chumiento and Hassli, who both came from the Swiss Super League, combined to score the first MLS goal for the Whitecaps in the 15th minute.

Chumiento broke down the right side and sent a crossing pass through the penalty box that a lunging Harris barely missed. The ball carried on to Hassli alone on the left side and the big French striker quickly launched a left-footed shot past veteran goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

De Rosario tied it with a historic goal of his own — the 8,000th in MLS history — after getting behind Vancouver's defense five minutes later.

But the Whitecaps went ahead for good in the 26th minute when Chumiento sent Dunfield in alone with a nice touch pass into the penalty area. Dunfield beat Frei with a right-footed shot, and his enthusiastic celebration earned a yellow card.

Dunfield grew up in Vancouver before leaving at 15 for an opportunity with Manchester City and spending the next 14 years in England.

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