Toronto FC players rallied around manager Mo Johnston yesterday, claiming that a report of an apparent rift in the club's locker room was nonsense.
Johnston himself said that a Sun Media story after the team's 2-0 loss to Chivas USA in which midfielder Andy Welsh was quoted as saying he was "unhappy" at the manager's decision to take him out of the game after 63 minutes was misconstrued.
"Of course he was unhappy about being taken out," Johnston said. "No player wants to be taken out of a game. That doesn't mean there's a rift (between Johnston and the players) in the camp."
As for Welsh, he said yesterday that he has no problem with Johnston and that his comments were made out of frustration that the team had been unable to score in its previous six matches.
"Obviously I'm not going to be happy at being taken out," Welsh said. "Nobody is going to be happy when they are taken out, but there is no rift between myself and Mo."
Welsh also explained that when he was asked about the charley horse that Johnston had stated as the reason for removing him from the game, he didn't know what that meant.
"When I said 'what charley horse?' I meant that I didn't know what that injury was," he said. "In England, we call it a dead leg. And yes, I did have a dead leg."
Johnston said that Welsh was so upset at the fracas over his remarks that he requested a meeting with the manager yesterday morning.
"When some senior players on the team read the story they confronted Andy about any kind of rift in the locker room," Johnston said. "He came to me first thing (yesterday) and said he was very upset; that he never said that there was a rift."
Johnston insisted that even though the club was in the midst of a near record goalless drought, the team focus has never been better.
"This is a very close knit group of guys," he said. "I'll tell you they were the ones who were upset about the story, not me. It doesn't affect me one way or the other."
While Johnston clearly did not say that he might use the incident as a tool to help motivate the club, he didn't deny it either.
"There is an awful lot of pride in that room," he said. "And we've been racked with injuries."
But the fact remains that last Saturday's shutout loss left the team with a string of 552 minutes through six games without a goal.
Failure to get one behind the D.C. United goalkeeper in the first five minutes of this Saturday's at BMO Field, will put the club in the Major League Soccer record book for most goalless minutes ahead of the 557 minutes set in 2005 by Real Salt Lake.
The good news is that Danny Dichio and Marvel Wynne -- who both played in the second half against Chivas -- appear to be ready to start this week, leaving only striker Jeff Cunningham and midfielder Ronnie O'Brien with injuries serious enough to keep them off the pitch.