Commentary

Toronto FC must rebound after embarrassing defeat for crucial home stand

By Ridge Mahoney
(@ridgemax)

Home and away records don’t tell the full story of a season, yet the figures regarding Toronto FC are quite relevant.

At the new, expanded BMO Field, which didn’t re-open for business until early May, TFC is 3-1-3. On the road, where the team played its first eight games while stadium workers touched up the final details, it is 3-6-3 after a 2-1 defeat in San Jose Saturday.

That disparity in games played home and away starts to be rectified this week, when TFC hosts D.C. United in the first of four straight matches at the revamped BMO. In that match, it also hopes to eradicate the stain of conceding the winning goal while playing against nine Earthquakes.

Red cards left the Quakes two men short for nearly 40 minutes but they got the only goal during that time. San Jose stunned TFC by taking a 2-1 lead in the 70th minute on a knuckle-balling shot by Simon Dawkins, and blunting all efforts to get at least a point.

“We let each other down,” said Toronto defender and ex-Quake Steven Beitashour, whose cross to Justin Morrow -- another former Quake -- yielded an equalizer in the 44th minute. “This team has gone through a lot of ups and downs. This was a great opportunity to get seven points out of the past three games. We let the other team off the hook.”

Said head coach Greg Vanney, who lauded his team’s efforts to get a 1-1 tie in Columbus just three days prior, “The guys put in an incredible shift on Wednesday [1-1 tie at Columbus] and there were guys who played a lot of minutes over this last stretch, so no excuse because still we shouldn’t give the [Dawkins] goal away. I can sort of live with the fact we’re having a hard time putting the ball in the back of the net because they had a lot of guys protecting their goal and we weren’t sharp enough, but we should never give a goal away in that situation.

“It’s a Western Conference game so it doesn’t hurt us as bad as if it’s an Eastern Conference game. We’re on the third game of a long road trip, so just in general I thought we were a little bit slow, a little bit off in terms of our energy levels.”

An off-night for Sebastian Giovinco -- who somehow didn’t look all that dangerous while taking 10 shots and putting two of thm on target -- and the continued absence of Jozy Altidore because of hamstring problems hampered TFC’s attacking efforts. Yet the visitor piled up an incredible 15-1 disparity in shots while playing 11-v-9 and still failed to score.

TFC has signed Canadian attacker Touisant Ricketts to bolster its attacking corps. The Edmonton native, who is 28, has played his entire career in European countries such as Norway, Finland, Turkey and Romania and trained with TFC for several week before signing his new deal.

Giovinco leads TFC with eight goals and seven assists but hasn’t scored since mid-May. Morrow’s goal against his former team pulled him even on the scoring list with promising young forward Jordan Hamilton, who has collected his three goals in just seven games. Altidore bagged 13 goals last year after a winter move back to MLS from Sunderland but injuries and national-team duty have limited him to eight games and no goals this season. He reinjured his hamstring May 14 taking a penalty kick against Vancouver that keeper David Ousted saved. He hasn’t played since.

Altidore joined the team in San Jose after continuing his rehab work in Southern California. He suited up but did not warm up with the subs during the second half. He could return this weekend but with a heavy rush of games looming after the All-Star break Vanney and the medical staff may choose to wait. Ricketts could get his first run-out against United and afford Altidore another week of recovery.

After D.C. and the All-Star Game July 28 in San Jose, TFC hosts Columbus, Real Salt Lake and New England in a busy stretch of three home games in seven days. Another block of games at BMO is on the horizon. Toronto is fifth in the Eastern Conference at 6-7-6 (W-L-T) but is just two points ahead of D.C. and Orlando City, which sit just below the playoff tier.

“I think that, as a group, we’ll put it behind us in the next couple of days,” Vanney said after the disappointment in San Jose. “We have nine of [13] at home now. ... We’ve got a lot to look forward to and a lot to play for.”

1 comment about "Toronto FC must rebound after embarrassing defeat for crucial home stand ".
  1. beautiful game, July 22, 2016 at 11:01 a.m.

    TFC should have chosen a different local venue, instead they chose to dig themselves a hole.

    League schedule makers need to quit their jobs for incompetence, or are they part of this non-friendly player MLS mentality.

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