So much for a good start

BILL LANKHOF

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

Last week Toronto FC fans got Tasered. Yesterday it was the team that got demobilized.

"We got our backsides kicked. No excuses," said coach John Carver after watching the Reds get blown out 2-0 in their home opener.

This year is supposed to be different for Toronto's third-year Major League Soccer team. It is supposed to score; it added high-profile home boys and they're supposed to be Toronto's next team to actually make the playoffs.

The Reds were coming off a road win and, last week a tie against defending champion Columbus, during which TFC fans disgraced themselves. Yesterday, it was the team's turn to be embarrassed. They couldn't even beat an expansion team.

"It seemed they were the home team and we were the away team," said Adrian Serioux, the Toronto native, who had foreseen a happier ending to his debut performance.

They were out of this game by halftime. By then, the normally faithful was singing the boos. "It was a disgrace. Everybody keeps talking about playoffs. We perform like that and we'll finish bottom of the league again," Carver said. "Usually when you've lost you've got one or two guys who played well. I can't think of anyone."

The day started with enough promise. There was the usual sellout crowd stomping its feet -- and not just to keep warm in 3C chill. During the national anthem the Mounties managed to hang onto their hats and not get blown over as they clung to flags snapping in the stiff northern breeze. Talk about your ill wind.

"They adapted better than we did. Even when there's a gale force wind it's possible to play football. They did ... we didn't put two passes together," said Carver, whose team trailed 2-0 after the first half. And that was with the wind at its back.

The Reds started slow, and got slower. Freddie Ljundberg delivered the first punch 15 minutes in, working a pretty give-and-go with Nate Jaqua on the wing. The Reds defence was caught flat-footed as Ljundberg took a return pass near the penalty spot and slipped a shot past on-rushing goalie Greg Sutton.

By the 30th minute the Reds were fighting the officials and their own composure as much as the Sounders. Rohan Ricketts was taken down in the box but the Reds didn't get the foul call. Minutes later, Zach Scott got tangled with Ricketts. Again no call.

"The officials aren't why we lost," said Carver, who also watched a goal by Pablo Vitti in the 78th minute get waved off on a debatable offside.

It was a day the Reds had no luck, no calls, and no game. Sebastian LeToux got his foot in front of a shot to break up a promising cross from Marvell Wynne. Toronto committed 10 fouls and in the second half and Amado Guevara was waving his arms like he was directing pigeon traffic at the Exhibition grounds flight path.

Just not right

Just before the half a Sounders counter saw the ball ping-pong off several Toronto defenders and on to the foot of Steve Zakuani on the flank. Sutton again tried, vainly, to rush out. Silence reigned.

"I've apologized to the fans. I'll take responsibility for it but there's guys in that dressing room who ... were not right. We didn't compete. I don't know why. I can't put my finger on it," Carver said.

Toronto's best chances came in the second half when Guevara put a ball off the crossbar in the 70th minute.

"Even when we had opportunities the ball didn't roll our way. They got a couple passes together; one-twos, and we paid for it," Serioux said. Pablo Vitti forced Kasey Keller to make a diving stop. By then the stands were half empty. Last year's fans stayed to watch this team lose.

This year? Maybe not so much. Said captain Jim Brennan: "The guys were really excited. We are devastated."

bill.lankhof@sunmedia.ca


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