|Dynamo midfielder Brad Davis upends Toronto FC's Alan Gordon during last night's game in Houston. The hosts won 2-0. (AFP)
The effort was better, but the result the same for Toronto FC.
Another road loss, this time 2-0 at the hands of the Houston Dynamo.
It was an improved defensive performance for the Reds compared to Wednesday’s error-filled 5-0 loss to New York, but the team’s offence was missing in action once more, failing to score for the sixth time in the past 10 league games.
Unfortunately for TFC, when the team’s defence most resembled its New York version, the ball ended up behind Stefan Frei.
After Alan Gordon appeared to be fouled just outside of the box in the 50th minute, Gordon’s teammates fell asleep when the official said play on, allowing the Dynamo to march the other way before an unchallenged Danny Cruz fired in a shot that Frei got a piece of.
Later, pressing for an equalizer, TFC’s defence rested again, forcing Frei to make a pair of spectacular saves before Jeff Cameron — wide open of course — fired in the dagger.
Toronto, with just one win and five ties to show for its past 12 matches, dropped to 3-8-9.
The starting lineup was a major surprise as head coach Aron Winter declined to change his back four despite Wednesday’s disaster. A stronger and smarter commitment to defence made things work this time for the group, though Houston had some quality chances it failed to capitalize on.
Chief among them was the best chance of the first half, one that saw a wide open Brad Davis fire the ball over Frei and the goal.
Toronto made some good runs, but failed to get balls in to challenge Dynamo keeper Tally Hall. Houston was the better side, but certainly not by as much as the 65%-35% first-half possession stats indicated.
Houston’s dominance was more apparent in the second half, when only Frei prevented the match from turning into a blowout.
How frustrating it must be for the squad’s top player to be hung out to dry almost every evening.
Substitute Nick Soolsma was the only dangerous offensive player for the Reds.
The only good news for Toronto, still winless away from BMO Field this season, were the returns of Gordon and Jacob Peterson.
Gordon missed four games due to his latest injury and the club has been far more competitive with the big target man in its lineup than without.
The rugged Gordon was not given any leeway by the officials, especially when battling Canadian international Andre Hainault.
Julian de Guzman and Nana Attakora could not play due to injury and were missed.
The Reds now get 11 days to familiarize themselves with newcomers Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans, who will be eligible to make their MLS debuts on July 20th against Dallas.
The team will not have Richard Eckersley, who will be suspended for yellow card accumulation.