April 1, 2012
History against TFC's chances of making playoffs
By KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Since Major League Soccer entered an era of significant expansion in 2007, D.C. United remains the only club to recover from an 0-3-0 start to reach the MLS post-season — a harsh, but fair, assessment given Toronto’s shocking start to the 2012 season.
Following Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Columbus, head coach Aron Winter appeared unmoved by his side’s failure to get results within the league.
Stressing North American parity, the Dutchman insisted TFC’s offensive woes, and the results, will correct themselves in the coming weeks.
But while nobody’s ruling them out yet, as Toronto remains the only MLS club yet to earn a point, TFC’s next three matches will go a long way in determining which direction the club’s sixth campaign is set to turn.
With all eyes on Torreon this week, the Reds are scheduled to charter out of Mexico late Wednesday for Montreal — an expansion side that has shown an inability to keep offensive-minded clubs off the board early in the season.
The Reds then return to BMO Field for a pair of weekend fixtures against Chivas and Chicago — winnable home games the club can’t afford to drop points in.
While the front office continues to stress the team is far from panicked weeks into the season, should TFC fail to take at least three points from a tasty sequence of games, Toronto’s playoff hopes will end.
After Saturday’s crushing loss, a match the Reds bossed from start to finish, Winter pointed to Sporting Kansas City’s 2011 turnaround following a dreadful 1-6-3 start — a misguided comparison seeing as the Wizards opened the season with 10 road games until Livestrong Park opened in June.
For now, what you see is what you get. Club officials have indicated TFC is dealing with next to no cap room and reinforcements aren’t expected.
Regardless, Toronto has the roster to compete for a top-five spot in a weak Eastern Conference.
We’ll know by May if the club’s Champions League form has carried over to what’s already a make-or-break stretch of games just a month into the season.
Similar to Kansas City a season ago, D.C. United’s remarkable recovery in 2007 was fuelled in large part by an unbeaten run of 13 games that saw it claim top spot in the East ... Owning the league’s worst goal difference ahead of Week 4, Montreal reclaimed that title from TFC when a Thierry Henry hat trick powered the Red Bulls to a 5-2 drubbing over the Impact ... While it’s early days, with both the Reds and Impact dangling at the bottom of the MLS table, is this weekend’s Ontario-Quebec derby a Wooden Spoon battle? ... Vancouver’s goalless draw at PPL Park extended the club’s shutout streak to 366 minutes — a massive difference considering the ’Caps conceded seven through its first four league games last year ... B.C. Place isn’t anywhere close to seeing the Whitecaps eclipse the league’s record for longest streak without conceding. Led by Tony Meola in 2000, Kansas City shutout MLS opposition for a league record 681 minutes through eight matches before capturing the MLS Cup ... And after conceding more than a goal just once at the Home Depot Centre in 2011, the LA Galaxy’s back four continues to look lost without Omar Gonzalez. The MLS Cup holders have conceded six goals in two matches in Carson, Calif., suffering an embarrassing 3-1 drubbing at the hands of New England on the weekend.
Canada will wonder what could have been after a disappointing exit from CONCACAF’s Olympic qualifying tournament Saturday.
Following a massive win over the U.S., Canada’s failure to dispose of Cuba denied it an easier path to the London Games.
“This goal is going to hurt us,” midfielder Samuel Piette told Sportsnet following Canada’s 1-1 draw with the island nation, a match it led until stoppage time. “We don’t know if we’ll go through.”
The concern in Piette’s voice then matched the admirable, but timid, effort the Canadians put in during a 3-1 loss to Mexico on the weekend — a result that masked Canada’s satisfactory showing the past two weeks.
Had the Canadians defeated the lowly Cubans during group play, they would have met Honduras in Kansas City instead of El Tri — a much easier task for an inexperienced team looking to appear at its first Olympics since 1984.
Still consumed by its 2-0 win over the mighty U.S., Canada struggled to hang with El Salvador during its opener and all but handed an Olympic berth to Mexico on Saturday.
Edmonton ’keeper Michal Misiewicz hesitated on Mexico’s opener after Nana Attakora’s over-commitment opened the space that Marco Fabian exploited. After that, the former TFC defender’s rust was on full display when he allowed Miguel Ponce to dance around him inside the area on Mexico’s third.
Unattached and failing to impress during multiple European trials, the North York native needed a big performance to attract interest on the weekend. While his courage against the Americans was evident, Attakora’s lack of poise punished the Canadians in front of a Mexican-backed crowd in Kansas City when the side needed him most.
Although supporters will deny it, in three of Canada’s four qualifying matches, the team was fairly disappointing.