TFC needs to bounce back

DAN ILIKA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

In sports there are winners and there are losers -- Toronto fans know that better than anyone.

But after TFC's gaffe last weekend in its season opener against the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps, game two becomes much more important.

With the hopes of Red Nation running higher than Charlie Sheen on a Friday night at the Playboy Mansion, the loss to the 'Caps is a real kick in the groin.

What's more important, though, is where the team is headed next.

The 2011 season may be young, but Saturday's tilt with the Portland Timbers carries more weight than your average home opener.

The pressure from fans to perform is on in season five, with the Toronto faithful eyeing a playoff berth come fall.

"It's always nice when you play at home," TFC head coach Aron Winter said.

"It's my first meeting with our twelfth man--the fans-- and ... we're going to do everything to get our first three points."

Whether the expectations are realistic or not depends on who you talk to, but the club's light schedule to start the season demands results.

The Reds plays five of its first seven games of the season at home before a grueling road stretch come summer, which means opportunities in front of a home crowd early in the season carry much value.

Losing to Vancouver is mildly excusable. Back to back loses to first-year MLS franchises is deplorable.

And that's what makes this weekend's match-up with the Timbers that much more important.

It's never too early for a statement game, and hosting Portland could be just what the doctor ordered to build confidence in Winter's system.

Toronto dominated on-ball possession in the first half against Vancouver--a key in TFC's new style--but the possession needs to carry over to the defensive end in order for the team to succeed.

These early season matches are the perfect opportunity to go through the growing pains that are expected with the implementation of a new front office, but the Reds need to get it in gear sooner rather than later, particularly against fresh-faced competition.

Toronto may deserve the benefit of the doubt after its season opener, but you only get one mulligan every 18 holes and Reds used it early.

dan.ilika@sunmedia.ca


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