TFC better than their record

Toronto FC's Ryan Johnson reacts to his team's loss to Chivas USA after MLS soccer action at BMO...

Toronto FC's Ryan Johnson reacts to his team's loss to Chivas USA after MLS soccer action at BMO Field. (Ernest Doroszuk/QMI Agency)

Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:34 PM ET

TORONTO - The Reds are hoping to do what the Leafs couldn’t.

“Winning at the end is the way we want it,” said Danny Koevermans of Toronto FC’s five-match winless run to start the MLS season.

During Tuesday’s media availability at BMO Field, TFC’s Dutch target insisted the Reds have played well enough to have earned six or seven points by now. Instead, Toronto remains the only MLS club without points almost two months in, which had the club’s Designated Player evoking memories of another MLSE team.

“I followed the (NHL) this season and the teams that started really bad eventually got into the playoffs,” Koevermans said. “The Leafs started quite OK and at the end they had bad games they lost all the time.”

From gloom and doom to smiling and upbeat, with Torsten Frings set to return from a month-long injury, the players insist the club is still in the mix in the much weaker Eastern Conference.

With a game in hand, the Reds remain just six points behind fifth-place New England, which currently occupies the final playoff spot in the East.

In comparison, sitting on six points through five games, the defending champion L.A. Galaxy is second from the bottom in the West.

As this year’s playoffs will feature the top five teams from each conference, Toronto could benefit from the league altering its post-season.

“In MLS, you win back-to-back games and you’re back in it again,” Adrian Cann said.

“Ultimately, this game Saturday is crucial for us to get back into the thick of things.”

But winning two successive matches would seem a big ask under head coach Aron Winter. On the way to acquiring just six wins in 39 league matches under the Dutchman, Toronto has won back-to-back MLS games once.

Continuing to say the Reds were far superior to Chivas last Saturday, the second-year manager remains confident Frings’ return will see Toronto climb in the standings.

“It’s great — very great,” said Winter, after mentioning his captain’s full participation in training this week. “Today (we) saw in training the difference (with him) … We can use him in the midfield (or) in the back … The most important thing is that he is with us.”

And the numbers agree.

Under Winter’s watch Toronto has managed points in just 43% of its games without Frings — a ratio that increases to 71% in games featuring the German.

“He’s the captain of the team,” Richard Eckersley said. “I think it’s massive to have (Frings) back and his leadership in the team is massively important. I think you’ll be able to see that on Saturday.”

Winter wouldn’t give an indication as to how he’ll use the team’s defensive lynchpin against the visiting Chicago Fire, but the likely scenario will see Frings partner with Cann and Miguel Aceval at the back.

“He brings a lot of experience and leadership,” Cann said.

“I think the past games without him you can definitely tell the team has been out of balance.”

With a trip to West-leading Salt Lake looming, in the club’s six years of existence, BMO Field hasn’t seen a more important early-season league match.

BRIEFLY

Nick Soolsma continues to struggle with a hamstring injury that kept him out of the Chivas match. Following yesterday’s training, club officials said Toronto’s most consistent winger is questionable for Saturday’s match … Jeremy Hall continues to recover from off-season sports hernia surgery.

Although the former FC Dallas wing back is still two weeks away from regaining full fitness, he is back training with the team … Logan Emory has returned from a bout with the flu.

 


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