TFC aims to end mini-slump

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

With their ears already ringing from crowd taunts in Houston and Vancouver and some harsh words inside their own dressing room, Toronto FC players doesn't want to hear any boo-birds at BMO Field feeding the cacophony.

The team needs to stop a two-game losing streak today against the Los Angeles Galaxy, a minor slump, but one that's derailed progress in both Major League Soccer and the Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Last week's 3-0 loss in Houston saw them tumble from near first place in the MLS to the middle of the pack and the 2-0 setback in Vancouver means TFC must win by four goals in Montreal on Wednesday to overcome the supposed lower-rung Impact and Whitecaps or miss the CONCACAF tourney for a second year in a row.

Coach Chris Cummins didn't dispute reports of a prickly dressing room after the two losses.

"No one's happy to lose and it's harder when you go and do it in the A League," he said. "But it's like any job -- if you don't think others are (working hard) then you have to say it. It's part and parcel of the game.

"You have arguments in training, you get fights in training at times. It happens in hockey every day, doesn't it? It's because they want to win and I try to encourage that, as long as it's controlled and people don't take it personally.

"You need to accept what's been said, because there are players in that change room who have won things and who are winners and I need that to rub off on others."

The Galaxy, who will be without star David Beckham for another five weeks while he's on loan to AC Milan, have fallen into a habit of tie games -- nine in all while winning and losing once.

"This could be a massive turning point either way," Cummins said. "Either we roll our sleeves up and find ourselves back at the top or we could find players out and begin nosediving. I think it'll be the first one."

TFC (4-4-4) went from its three striker system to a more defensive 5-4-1 in Vancouver in the hope of getting the needed point, but there could be personel and tactical changes today. Cummins hopes that a few days on antibiotics will improve the foot infection that goaltender Stefan Frei developed after the Houston game, which put a rusty Greg Sutton in his place in Vancouver.

Midfielder Carl Robinson and defender Nana Attakora will try to play through injuries, while top scorer Amado Guevara and defender Marvell Wynne remain with the Honduran and American national teams for a few more days.

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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