Defoe scores 3rd goal, Toronto tops United 1-0

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TORONTO (AP) - Just two games into the 2014 MLS season, Toronto FC is experiencing new heights.

England star Jermain Defoe is scoring goals befitting his monster salary, American international Michael Bradley is pulling the strings in midfield, and everyone else is playing their part.

It’s early days yet but Toronto, once the MLS doormat, is off to its best start ever at 2-0-0 and drawing a crowd on and off the pitch.

Still manager Ryan Nelsen is preaching caution at this early stage of the franchise’s eighth season.

“I think we still have a long way to go as a team,” he said. “We’ll play better than that probably and lose games.”

Toronto started six players Saturday who weren’t with the club last year.

Defoe, who scored twice in his MLS debut last week in Seattle, could have had four goals Saturday before he finally scored in the 60th minute after Brazilian strike partner Gilberto was sent in alone by a beautiful through ball from Bradley.

Goalie Bill Hamid made the save but the ball was cleared only as far as Defoe, who got the ball out from under his feet and hammered home a right-footed shot.

The goal, which featured all three of TFC’s designated players, was a model of efficiency.

Brazilian international goalie Julio Cesar started the play, booting the ball up field. A D.C. United player headed it back toward the Toronto end, but TFC captain Steven Caldwell nipped in and sent it to Osorio. The 21-year-old Canadian quickly gave it to Bradley, who lofted a pass over the defense to Gilberto.

The day offered thin gruel for D.C. United (0-2-0), which has yet to score this season after being beaten 3-0 by the Columbus Crew in its season opener two weeks ago.

“I don’t think D.C. broke us down very often at all,” Nelsen said. “And you look at our chances we had to score.”

Defoe’s three goals in two games would have tied him for third overall in Toronto FC scoring over the entire 2013 season.

After a brutal winter that included snowfall overnight, the ravaged grass at BMO Field made for a choppy game.

“The field was not conducive to playing any sport of football,” Nelsen said. “But that’s no fault of the groundskeeper. I blame God for that at the moment for the winter he’s given Toronto.”

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