Sutton's been a bright spot

STEVEN SANDOR -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

I only have a few hundred words to work with, so I can't list all of the problems currently facing Toronto FC; to list them all, I'd take up every inch of today's issue of 24 hours.

Instead, I will focus on one player who was blameless for the team's four straight defeats to start the MLS season -- and that's Canadian national netminder Greg Sutton. To someone who hasn't watched the team regularly, it might seem more than a bit strange that a keeper who has surrendered 10 goals in four games could be the team's best player. But, considering how leaky TFC's defence has been and the chances opposition strikers have had, it's a testament to Sutton's skill that the team hasn't given up twice as many goals as it has.

Case in point: It was dirty pool that Sutton was on the losing end of in Saturday's home opener. He stared down Eddie Johnson, arguably the best striker in the MLS. Three times the Kansas City Wizards were able to spring Johnson in alone on goal -- and three times Sutton stopped him.

The fourth time, though, Johnson got the game's only goal -- after his shot took a cruel deflection off a TFC defender.

Imagine the stress Sutton must feel; the team can't score, so he knows he can't make a single mistake, despite the fact the opposition regularly gets golden opportunities to "put the bulge in the back of the old onion bag," as commentator Tommy Smyth would put it.

After Saturday's loss, though, Sutton wouldn't let down his steely guard.

"This is something I am supposed to do, come up and make plays," he said. "I don't see it as a pressure, I've got a job to do, even if the team is scoring. All I can do is stay positive."

But what could be telling is that Sutton spent as much time talking about how the other 10 TFC players on the pitch must improve as he did talking about himself.

"Defensively, we are getting stronger, the team is not giving up as many chances," he said hopefully. But, he also warned: "There's a lot of things we have to work on. Passes intended for someone else are going behind people or going out of bounds ... we need to do better."

And TFC needs to score. For their morale. For their fans. And, maybe, most importantly, for that keeper the team has left hung out to dry through its first four games.

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24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card will appear every Wednesday in 24 hours.


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