TFC urged to be mentally tough

A new season brings new hope for Toronto FC and the team's fans. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

A new season brings new hope for Toronto FC and the team's fans. (Dave Thomas/QMI Agency)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

The goal for Toronto FC in its 2010 home debut is to avoid letdowns.

Like the ones that caused the team to blow a 1-0 lead after 45 minutes last week in New England and surrender four in the second half.

Or the lapses that led to many Crew chances on opening day in Columbus Head coach Predrag (Preki) Radosavlijevic, who pointed out he would be more than happy to see his team play as it did in the first half in New England all the time, wants to see consistency from TFC.

"We made mistakes in the second half," Preki said.

"We have to eliminate those if (we) want to win things. Individual mistakes have to come down to a bare minimum. Right now they are very high."

Preki refused to share with the media exactly what mistakes have most raised his ire, but he made it clear the players know.

"We have to hold each other accountable in every situation, in every moment of the game," he said.

"We have to be mentally tougher. When things go against you (like in New England) you can't just put your head down and be in shock, (you) need to recover right away."

Defender Nana Attakora acknowledged the message was received.

"Little giveaways killed us mentally," Attakora said. "It was a lapse of concentration, but there's no excuse to give up four goals like that."

TFC, particularly on the back end, has been too prone to errors. Veteran Nick Garcia has struggled, giving goals to the opposition in both outings, thanks to poor clearing efforts. He isn't alone though. Ty Harden has been up and down and Attakora and Julian de Guzman have not shown their best.

Up front, the club has not created enough chances. The possible return of striker Chad Barrett to the starting lineup might help. He came in during the second half against the Revolution.

Midfielder Jacob Peterson is close to being fit enough to make his first appearance with TFC, while Preki confirmed Wednesday that de Guzman should be over the flu that limited him last weekend.

The emptying of the infirmary and arrival of defenders Adrian Cann, Raivis Hscanovics and Maksim Usanov also will give Preki more options to work with as it meets a tough expansion outfit that has shown much more on the offensive end than the Reds.

Captain Dwayne De Rosario talked Tuesday about how excited he was to play on grass in his hometown for the first time. Newcomer Cann, of Thornhill, was just excited to be playing at BMO, period.

Cann said he has been impressed by Preki's attitude.

"He has got that winning mentality, it carries on throughout the team," Cann said.

"Love to win, hate to lose, that's the way it is."

The trick for the fiery Serbian now is to spread those traits throughout his lineup.

E-mail ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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