New England Soccer Today

PC Product Konopka Shines for TFC

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Leave it to the opposing keeper with local ties to shine in crunch time and keep the Revolution from grabbing maximum points.

In only his fifth career MLS start, Providence College alumnus Chris Konopka collected seven saves to help Toronto secure a 1-1 road draw at Gillette Stadium.

For Konopka, Saturday’s match marked the second time in the last three weeks that the 30-year-old keeper was able to play in familiar surroundings.

“I think it’s actually funny the games I’ve gotten to play are at places where I have ties to,” Konopka said. “The first game in Philadelphia, that was my old club and my hometown pretty much. Up here in New England, I went to school 20 minutes down the road in Providence College, so I’ve been around both of those clubs in two of the three MLS games I’ve played in. Maybe there’s a little bit more, I don’t want to say a chip on my shoulder, but a little more like a motivation to do well with those clubs, in front of me.”

That extra motivation served Konopka well. The Revolution attack that fired eight shots on goal, a handful of which had the potential to send the Reds to their second straight defeat.

In the 25th minute, Charlie Davies got behind Toronto’s backline and fired a hard shot that was destined for the back of the net before Konopka acrobatically pushed it away. While Juan Agudelo was able to beat him in the 32nd minute, that goal was the only occasion in which he’d be beaten.

In the waning stages, Lee Nguyen, Andy Dorman and Diego Fagundez all made bids for the game-winner, Dorman’s being the most dangerous. Nguyen played a through ball to Dorman, whose shot was denied by a bold move off his line.

“He did a great job,” Toronto midfielder Benoit Cheyrou said. “We tried to avoid him to work tonight, as every game, and tonight he did a very good job. He was very courageous.”

Toronto coach Greg Vanney hasn’t been surprised by Konopka’s performance, which has yielded the keeper plenty of praise.

“I think he’s been excellent,” Vanney said. “He’s come up with big saves – he’s not a hundred percent, but he’s managing to still do his job, and perform and come up with the saves he needs to, sometimes he’s hitting the ball out left footed, he’s doing everything in his power to be there for the team and he’s been excellent. It would be really hard, we could nitpick him, but he’s been amazing and really stepping up and taking this opportunity by the scruff of the neck.”

It’s unclear whether Konopka will keep the starting keeper’s spot for Toronto once Joe Bendik is healthy enough to return to action. The former Friar said that he regularly talks shop with Bendik in the hopes of improving his game.

“He’s around the training ground every single day with us when we are out there training and at the home matches as well,” Konopka said. “The two of us, like I said, we have a great rapport. Everything is great between us.”

With Saturday’s match serving as, quite possibly, his finest performance to date, Konopka said he’s more concerned about getting on the same page with the defenders in front of him.

“I think hopefully the boys in front of me have a trust in me now,” Konopka said. “I think the first game they don’t know what they were thinking with myself in but they seem to have more trust in me every single game. Going forward that’s a good thing.”

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