Dallas Soccer DFW

Juan Toja scores as MLS All Stars defeat Celtic

Published 7/20/2007 7:44:08 AM by staff from mlsnet.com

Call it the Colombian connection. While countryman Juan Pablo Angel scored the first goal and won the game's Honda Most Valuable Player award, Juan Toja, played just as well, scoring the second goal in the MLS All-Stars' 2-0 victory against Celtic FC.  

It is great and very interesting to play in the All-Star game," said Toja. "I've only been here a short time and I am happy to play here and proud to play in this game."

His goal, coming in the 44th minute, put an exclamation mark on the first half of Toja's first MLS season. Coming to FC Dallas from perennial power River Plate in Argentina, Toja has started in 18 games for Dallas, scoring six goals. He currently leads the league in both games played and minutes played (as well in the less honorable category of fouls committed).

"Week in and week out he has played well [for FC Dallas] and he deserved to play today," said Angel. "He played a good game today and scored a great goal."

For his part, Toja was pleased to play with his fellow Colombian.  "I have followed Juan Pablo Angel's career my whole life and it is an honor to play with him tonight," said Toja.  Toja was part of an MLS midfield that controlled the pace of the game for most of the decisive first half, and his runs and passes from the left wing were dangerous the entire night,  "In the first half we had good opportunities and were able to control the ball well in the midfield," said Toja.

Toja's play in MLS has his countryman touting his talents for their national team.  "This is going to be good not only for him and the league but also for Colombia," said Angel. "We had a hard time recently in Copa America and I think he should be called to play for the national team."

Toja has played for Colombia internationally at the U-21 level and is cautiously optimistic about his chances with the full team.  "Part of it is up to me how hard and how well I play," said Toja. "But part of it is up to the coach and I just have to wait and see."

All-Star games are nice, but ultimately it is about the league and the playoffs. FC Dallas currently sits in second place in the Western Conference, only three points back of Houston. Toja hopes to use this game as a springboard to help his team continue their success.

"My goals are to just play hard and keep doing what I am doing," said Toja. "For the team we want to keep winning and win the championship."

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