By JOSE M. ROMERO
Nick Soolsma lined up his penalty kick in the 53rd minute and beat Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly to Soolsma's right for a goal.
It didn't count. Joao Plata was called for encroachment, necessitating a re-kick.
Unfazed, Soolsma went left from the spot this time in the 54th minute, and the ball got by Nolly again. The goal was all Toronto FC would need to earn its first MLS win at BMO Field since May 7, as TFC hung on for a 1-0 victory to cap off a big day for the club.
TFC had earlier Wednesday signed a pair of designated players, 34-year-old midfielder Torsten Frings — a two-time World Cup veteran for Germany — and Dutch forward Danny Koevermans, a 32-year-old who spent the past four seasons with PSV Eindhoven. The two aren't eligible to suit up for TFC until after the July 15 international transfer window.
Most who did suit up and start for both TFC and Vancouver Wednesday night weren't typically starters, as both teams were apparently saving a lot of regulars for Saturday's Nutrilite Canadian Championship second leg. The championship round is tied at 1 after the first leg ended in a draw in Vancouver, and torrential rain forced the second leg to be cancelled at halftime at BMO Field last month. The makeup date is Saturday at 12:30 EST.
The Whitecaps played their second of three games in a week's time. They were without starting defenders Jay DeMerit and Alain Rochat and midfielder Davide Chiumiento Wednesday, but DeMerit and Rochat could be ready Saturday, team president Bob Lenarduzzi said during the game, while Chiumiento is back in Vancouver nursing a hamstring injury.
After a scoreless first half in which the Whitecaps had only one shot and none on target compared to three and one for Toronto FC, the second half was a bit livelier. The Whitecaps brought on leading scorer Eric Hassli to start the half.
As Lenarduzzi was talking to the TSN commentators live on the air, the match turned in the 52nd minute. Soolsma was taken down in the penalty area by defender Greg Janicki, drawing an "Oh no," from Lenarduzzi, who promptly excused himself, telling the broadcasters he didn't want to say something he'd regret.
Soolsma's second PK attempt was good.
The Whitecaps made two more substitutions, as Camilo Sanvezzo and Nizar Khalfan came on as attacking players, but neither they nor Hassli could find the net. Plata was a difference-maker for Toronto FC, buzzing around the box and creating chances along with the three shots he took.
In the 79th minute, TFC defender Ty Harden did well to clear out a service from Blake Wagner toward the Whitecaps' Omar Salgado. Sanvezzo tried to find Hassli with a cross in the 82nd minute but it was over his head.
Vancouver didn't really even come very close to an equalizer, and TFC (3-7-9) moved from last to sixth place in the MLS East for the time being at 18 points.
The Whitecaps (2-7-9) remained winless on the road (0-7-3) and have scored just six goals in those 10 road matches.