Time for TFC to get Real

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Time for Toronto FC to get Real.

The second half of the team's Major League Soccer schedule begins on the road tonight in Utah against Real Salt Lake, a test of its three-game win streak (6-5-4 overall) and ambition to grab first place in the conference.

Right after its 2-0 win on Wednesday, TFC faced questions from a disbelieving media that the streak is legit, two games coming at home against the woeful New York Red Bulls and the other a 6-1 romp over a B-team lineup from the USL Montreal Impact.

But the Montreal game required a five-goal decision to win the Nutrilite Cup and it beat New York without defender Marvell Wynne.

Their lineup has been in flux, too, re-jigged with newcomer Nick Garcia at the back and Danny Dichio rested for much of Wednesday's match.

Forward Ali Gerba will be coming July 15 after he plays for Canada at the Gold Cup and both Rohan Ricketts and Kevin Harmse have now moved on.

"Three weeks ago (when TFC suffered a 2-0 Nutrilute loss in Vancouver) seemed like the worst day of my life in soccer, but three weeks later the lads are fine," coach Chris Cummins said. "I think a lot of teams are looking at us now and thinking: 'Hold on, these lads are really kicking on', we're second in the league."

Salt Lake (4-6-4) is the first heavy lifting TFC has had to do in MLS since May 30 against the Houston Dynamo, a 3-0 loss that dropped them to 1-2-2 on the road .

Garcia gave a rousing pre-game speech just before Wednesday's game, in part to warn his team not to take New York lightly.

He thinks Salt Lake will have to be wary of TFC, too.

"I've been in this league long enough to know there are no easy games," Garcia said. "There's so much parity that any team can win anywhere, any day.

"Soccer is a game of mistakes and if you capitalize in the first minute that's fine, if it's the 91st minute, that's fine, too.

"We're learning to win ugly games, win with set pieces and with spectacular individual play. Everybody's embraced that. It's important for us now to maintain our good habits from home, treat (Salt Lake and four of the next five on the road) like a home game."

Canadians Dwayne De Rosario and Adrian Serioux both decided not to join Gerba at the Gold Cup because TFC is on a roll and such absentees the past two years have hurt Toronto at key junctures of the MLS schedule.

"It's confidence now," midfielder De Rosario said. "We had a tough swing before this, losing three in a row and it just shows the morale of the team. now.

"Home or away, we're going to go in expecting a result," defender Serioux said. "Maybe we can pull out a couple of ties and see where that takes us."

LANCE.HORNBY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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