Different look for TFC

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:28 PM ET

From a win to a draw to being blanked in its home opener, Toronto FC's much-hyped character is about to get its first test.

Toronto moved from an intense post-mortem of its 2-0 loss to Seattle early this week to full-bore preparation for FC Dallas tomorrow afternoon. That will include a different lineup or at least a re-arranged defence.

"I won't give it away, but there will be changes in personnel," coach John Carver said yesterday at BMO Field. "We've chopped and changed a few things."

Carver's assistants, led by Chris Cummins and Nick Dasovic, ran drills early in the week while Carver scouted the TFC Academy team in Dallas. It's not so much the five goals the team has allowed in three games that concerns the staff as the ease in which Seattle picked up two in the first half.

"While I was away, the guys worked on the back four, worked on rotating some of the defenders, on being more solid defensively," Carver said.

"If you look at the two goals we conceded, they were both give-and-gos, with people standing around.

"I was asked if I was concerned that we have conceded five (against Kansas City, Columbus and Seattle), but one was a penalty, two were world-class strikes. Unfortunately the two others came in the same game. But the guys have worked on it and hopefully, they'll be better."

All were in agreement that the entire 11 have to be sharper on the ball when Dallas has possession. The visitors have yet to win a game, but no one is counting them out.

"I'm one of those who believes you defend from the front and attack from the back," midfielder Carl Robinson said. "When we concede goals, it's not just the defence's fault, because it's the midfielders and defenders' job to defend as well and vice-versa. It's not just about the strikers scoring goals because you have off days and sometimes have to rely on midfielders and defenders, too.

"What helps is having a settled team, a settled back four and a settled midfield. You get used to playing together. We've played three games and chopped and changed for one reason or another. As soon as we get into a lot more games and a settled team, we'll be fine."

Carver consulted senior players such as Robinson and Dwayne De Rosario about team morale in the wake of the home-field flop and is convinced the changes made in the off-season will stand the test.

"We have a lot of character in that dressing room with the additions of Dwayne and Adrian (Serioux)," Robinson said. "I've been here since Day 1 and it has been building. We know we didn't play well, all we have to do is bounce back. Good teams do that quickly."

One would figure midfielder De Rosario would have been the most upset by Saturday's developments, which he had looked forward to for months since re-signing in his home town.

"It was a great homecoming for me," De Rosario said "There's still a little bit of jelling and understanding each other on the field to (master), in terms of knowing where each other goes and how each other plays in certain situations.

"That only comes with games. We went down a goal (to Seattle) and we'd never been down a goal yet at home. We got a little scattered and lost our position a bit. We have to get that game out of the way and turn negatives into positives."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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