Chains are off

Coach John Carver at the Toronto FC practice under the dome at the BMO Stadium. (Toronto Sun/Greg...

Coach John Carver at the Toronto FC practice under the dome at the BMO Stadium. (Toronto Sun/Greg Henkenhaf)

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

Newly minted Toronto FC coach John Carver is going on the offensive.

He wants his charges on the second-year Major League Soccer side to follow his steps today when they kick off the 2008 season on the road against the Columbus Crew.

Carver put the team through a strenuous two-hour practice yesterday at the BMO Field bubble that concentrated on scoring and getting into position to score -- a good thing considering it was the woeful lack of goals that plagued the squad last season.

Describing himself as a shoot-first, ask-questions-later kind of coach, Carver said he doesn't want a repeat of 2007 when TFC came home from a season-opening four-game trip without a point, or a goal.

"I am not one of those coaches who is willing to settle for a point on the road," he said. "I want this team to play 90 minutes of every game to get those three points."

It seems the players are buying into his game plan.

Andrea Lombardo, fresh from the Canadian under-23 team that came close to winning its way into the Beijing Olympic tournament, said that so far he likes what he sees of the new coach's philosophy.

"That is what soccer is all about -- attacking," he said. "That's the entertaining part about the game. Last year, we had trouble scoring, so (Carver) wants to get on the ball and go forward, while still paying attention to defence."

Lombardo, who grew up playing soccer in North York, said the coach's words are even more important after TFC won just six times in 30 outings in 2007.

"It's really important to get off to a good start," he said. "The first game of the season, you always want to bang out three points."

Carver was adamant yesterday that he would not release the names for his starting 11 until just before game time.

"I don't believe in letting the opposition in on who we will be starting," he said. "I have told the lads so they can prepare properly, but I won't be revealing it to you guys (media)."


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