April 14, 2012
Chivas hands TFC fifth straight loss
By KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - It doesn't get any worse for the Reds -- literally.
Before Chivas' Oswaldo Minda opened the scoring from a corner in the 31st minute Saturday, TFC hadn't lost five consecutive league matches in its six years of existence.
"It has never happened in my soccer career and coaching career," head coach Aron Winter said of Toronto's 1-0 loss at BMO Field, a result that kept the club pointless through Week 6 in MLS. "If you watch all the players on the pitch, I think that everybody has done what I expect."
Making three changes to the lineup that fell in Montreal last week, the visitors rarely tested Milos Kocic after Minda's winner, a goal that occurred against the run of play following a positive opening from the Reds.
Despite Adrian Cann returning from injury to earn his first start in over a year, yet another defensive blunder punished a team that appears to be out of answers.
"It's really unlucky the way we lost the game," said Milos Kocic, in response to questions concerning the otherwise resolute play at the back. "I've never seen anything like it "¦ it's very difficult to be in this position."
For all the scrutiny hurled at what has been an amateurish defence, in addition to a spell of relentless defending from the visitors, the weight of Saturday's result rests squarely on the shoulders of Toronto's front four, who squandered countless second-half chances.
Continuing to search for the finishing touch that saw him lead TFC in scoring a season ago, it looked as though Danny Koevermans would equalize at the death.
Receiving a low cross from Joao Plata in the 89th minute, Toronto's Dutch target scuffed his best chance of the game right at Chivas' Dan Kennedy -- just minutes after a Ryan Johnson header nearly leveled the proceedings of a match some TFC players had labeled a must-win.
"It's one of the craziest games I've ever been part of," Johnson said of the missed chances late in the game. "This one is going to be a really hard game to forget and I really think that we were the better team today."
The Rojiblancos twice cleared Johnson's attempts off the goal-line in the second half.
In the 48th minute, the Jamaican's header was cleared away by Chivas' Miller Bolanos, who was on the back post during a TFC corner. Heath Pearce repeated the task in the 80th minute after Johnson's shot from the left wing beat Kennedy and was destined for the goal.
"If you watch what we have given away, it was nothing -- maybe two moments (to Chivas)," Aron Winter said. "(Our) possession was good "¦ you have to be always positive because I saw a lot of good things."
But as the only club still without points -- and the owners of the fourth worst start in MLS history -- how much longer will the excuses hold up?
While there's no doubt the Reds were the better team for long stretches Saturday, at some point Toronto's standing within the league will need to be taken into consideration.
"I think they're going to give me the time," said Winter, when asked about how secure he feels as the club's head coach. "I'm here to succeed and to get the team into the playoffs "¦ I'm not concerned."
Someone should remind him that no MLS club has ever made the MLS playoffs after starting 0-5 -- and that his side is dangerously close to matching the long-standing record for worst start to an MLS season.
Kansas City started 1999 pointless through seven games, a record the club will try and snuff out against the visiting Chicago Fire next week.
In his first start in just under a year, Cann looked a fraction of the player who won the club's 2010 MVP award.
"I felt comfortable with the guys," Cann said. "It was my first game back so I'm kind of learning everyone's tendencies around me "¦ I thought we gave if all we (had)."
While serviceable -- arguably a better option than Ty Harden at the moment -- Cann's decision making was a touch slow throughout. Good in the air and confident in tackles, the Canadian lacked a certain bit of confidence with the ball at his feet.
Ahead of Saturday's match, there were questions as to whether two reserve appearances would suffice ahead of such a big game, which goes to show how dire the situation is.
The response when trailing simply wasn't good enough until the 70th minute -- something that should have been addressed at the half "¦ It's the little moments that continue to hurt the Reds. Johnson did little to challenge Oswaldo Minda on Chivas' opener "¦ The battle between Richard Eckersley and Ryan Smith was intense from the start. Answering Eckersley's challenge just a minute earlier, Smith was lucky not to be sent off when he put cleats to Eckersley's ankle early on "¦ It was a surprise to see Torsten Frings on the club's bench. Although he was an unlikely sub, the Reds could have used his service. Roughly 50% of Toronto's restarts were put into dangerous area -- unacceptable at the professional level.