What could possibly be worse than TFC's latest debacle?

Kurtis Larson, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 12:49 AM ET

TORONTO - From dream start to dreary end, TFC’s depressing — some would say comical — result in Torreon, Mexico Wednesday exposed it in ways that surprised even its harshest critics.

Be it club captain Julian de Guzman’s amateurish tackle or Miguel Aceval’s elementary defending, TFC’s defensive setup is handing over games in ways that are incomprehensible at the professional level.

Toronto’s confident start was twice negated from a pair of simple runs that professional defenders have to sniff out.

After over-committing midway through the first half, Aceval’s failure to remain goal-side saw Herculez Gomez help Santos Laguna bounce back from an early deficit.

Then, Toronto’s entire midfield failed to step to play-maker Juan Rodriguez on Santos’ piercing equalizer just before the half. The Mexican had time to stand on the ball before picking out Gomez, whose run exploited an unravelling Toronto defence.

Going without Torsten Frings for a fourth straight match, what followed after the break were a pair of individual mistakes the German’s presence wouldn’t have solved.

While de Guzman’s reckless lunge gave referee Jose Pineda no choice but to point to the spot, Aceval’s strange attempt at a diving header ended with what was an easily avoidable hand ball that allowed Santos to shut the door on a match that was there for the taking.

Despite playing even with one of Mexico’s best for more than three halves, Toronto’s never-ending lack of defensive collectiveness and composure continues to punish a side that remains just a few pieces away from breaking into the playoffs.

What rattles supporters most is that Toronto’s front office has had more than enough time to find the missing piece — a steady centre-half the club desperately needs to cut into the shocking goal-difference TFC continues to sport.

POINTING FINGERS

Sources close to the situation told the Toronto Sun last month lax scouting contributed to Geovanny Caicedo’s curious exit in early March — a staggering revelation that questions whether the club did its due-diligence before offering Aceval a contract in January.

Billed as the final piece to Toronto’s defensive puzzle before the season, with one-half of Toronto’s South American tandem cut before first kick, the other half looks to have played himself out of the first team after one of the worst performances in TFC history Wednesday night.

But after watching Toronto concede an astounding 17 goals through seven games — a rate that has it set to surpass last year’s total — should supporters and media shoulder a piece of the blame?

Throughout the offseason both bombarded TFC’s top brass with questions surrounding on-going negotiations with Joao Plata and Richard Eckersley — two pieces that have done nothing in terms of improving Toronto’s record.

Although Eckersley is a solid back that most MLS clubs would entertain it’s clear Toronto can’t move forward without a legitimate rock in the centre of defence. Similarly, take away his brace in Wednesday’s loss and Plata is half the player he was a season ago.

While a majority — not all — of the offseason conversation was on bringing back a pair of fan favourites to BMO Field, it should have been on pressing management to sign a difference maker in the heart of defence before spending a good chunk of change on a pair of popular wingers.

THIS AND THAT

There’s no question Aceval and Caicedo were emergency signings the club hoped would emerge as solid pieces at the back, but with months to find even a satisfactory centre back, why was an emphasis put on bringing in players like Jeremy Hall, Reggie Lambe and Joao Plata before such a necessity? ... Toronto isn’t the only club struggling to close the flood gates. When the Reds travel to the Big O for tomorrow’s inaugural TFC-Impact MLS derby, the two sides will be looking to avoid adding to their combined 28 goals conceded in all competition this year ... For the Reds, the stakes are a bit higher. If Toronto (0-3-0) drops a fourth consecutive league result, they’ll look to become just the third side in MLS history (Colorado 2003, DC United 1996) to begin an MLS campaign with four losses and still make the playoffs ... Kansas City could become the first MLS club to begin a season with five straight wins.

PARTING THOUGHT

Making its first trip to Olympic Stadium, TFC meets its closest rivalwith an opportunity to save face following a disappointing start.

Truth be told, Saturday’s match is big. Toronto has a chance to right the ship following back-to-back league performances that have put it in a difficult spot.

While a win at the Big O restores confidence ahead of two winnable home fixtures, another loss puts Toronto in an even deeper hole it will struggle to claw back from this summer.

 


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