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Welsh's goal lifts Toronto FC over Houston

May 17, 2007 - 2:15 AM TORONTO (Ticker) -- Toronto FC is not playing like an expansion club at home.

Andy Welsh scored the game's only goal to lift Toronto FC to a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo in wet and soggy conditions.

Playing its third straight home game, Toronto (2-4-0) rode the momentum gained from Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Chicago Fire to earn its second straight win.

The expansion franchise had started the season with four straight losses and were outscored, 10-0.

"We need to continue to know each other and it can only get better," Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton said. "It's not going to be easy and we're going to go through some ups and downs, but we've gone through a downer and now we're on the upswing. Just need to keep it in the right direction and improve on every game."

The Dynamo (2-2-1) had the better chances in the first half, with Sutton tested on a direct kick by Brad Davis, who was a going concern throughout the game.

Houston almost went ahead in the 12th minute when Eddie Robinson's shot got past Sutton, only to see defender Jim Brennan clear the ball off the goal line.

"They change games. If they go in, they get their confidence up and start going," Toronto midfielder Ronnie O'Brien said of stopping the Dynamo's early shots. "If they don't go in, we get a break and the game completely switches. You need luck and sometimes it is better to be lucky than to be good."

Having withstood those chances, Toronto went ahead in the 25h minute off a direct kick.

O'Brien sent a kick into the penalty area and Andy Welsh headed it into the left side of the net past goalkeeper Pat Onstad for a 1-0 lead at 24:39. It was the first MLS goal for the Scottish midfielder, who was born in Manchester, England.

"It's just an obvious ball in the box," O'Brien said. "You just bend it, put it on the penalty spot, over the six-yard, and everyone rushes the goal to put a head on it. Welsh got a head on it and scored a great goal."

Houston's Dwayne De Rosario said the goal changed the entire tenor of the match.

"You don't finish but the other team finishes you're gonna lose. I thought we played well, we moved the ball well, but again in the final third we should have finished," De Rosario said. "On one or two breakaways we should have hit the net, but that's the way the ball bounces sometimes. After they scored they pretty much sat back and tried to defend. It is difficult to beat a team like that."

Welsh had a magnificent chance to double the lead 10 minutes later, moving in alone on the left wing, but instead of pulling the trigger on a shot, he attempted a crossing pass that was intercepted.

Less than two minutes later, Davis almost got the equalizer but his chip shot on a one-timer was denied by Sutton.

"As a goaltender that is what you need to do. You need to keep the ball out of the net and help your team out," Sutton said. "You miss a save here or there and it's a different game. Fortunately for us we were able to keep them off the scoreboard.

"Our defense has improved leaps and bounds over the last few games and we're starting to reap the rewards."

Joseph Ngwenya had a pair of solid scoring bids in the first six minutes of the second half, but he uncorked a weak shot that went wide left on a partial breakaway and then unleashed a hard shot that missed wide right.

Toronto had chances of its own, as Marvell Wynne forced Onstad to dive to his left to push away his shot.

The best opportunity, though, came in the 81st minute when Edson Buddle had a clear breakaway and rifled a point-blank shot off the shoulder of Onstad.

Sutton and Onstad made four saves apiece.

"I'm very pleased. I'm more pleased about not giving up any goals," Toronto coach Mo Johnston said. "Because we've worked hard, very hard, on defense."

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