April 21, 2012
TFC: Six games, zero points
By Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency
TORONTO - A loss away from matching the worst start in MLS history, players fell to their knees following TFC’s sixth straight defeat.
On the way to earning a 3-2 result at BMO Field, goals from Chicago’s Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko twice put the visitors ahead despite Toronto’s Reggie Lambe bagging a brace to end the first half.
Once again the architects of their own defeat, the Reds joined an elite list Saturday by conceding inside the first 30 seconds.
“We started very bad because of my fault,” Torsten Frings said of a giveaway that saw Oduro convert a first-minute breakaway. “We gave the goals away too easy. (We had) a lot of mistakes today, including (mine).”
Using the shock start as an alarm, Toronto controlled long stretches of the first half, leading to its brightest moment when a punch clearance from Chicago’s Sean Johnson fell perfectly to Lambe in the 36th minute.
Failing to impress during the first month of the season, the Englishman cut inside before unleashing a rising blast from the left edge of the area that beat an outstretched Johnson at the near post.
With the visitors on their heels, Lambe was at the back stick to bag his brace four minutes later after finishing off a Ryan Johnson cross to put the Reds up 2-1 — an advantage they held for less than a minute.
“In a minute it’s impossible that you give a goal away,” head coach Aron Winter said. “(Teams) aren’t making the goals. Our opponents need a half chance … and it’s always a goal.”
Lax defending inside the area saw an unmarked Gonzalo Segares level the match from a Sebastian Grazzini restart in the 41st minute.
“We have to learn how to defend set pieces,” goalkeeper Miilos Kocic said. “I don’t want to go over the (goals) because I really don’t have much to say. It’s extremely hard on players … Personally, it’s very difficult for me.”
Toronto’s No. 1 took a portion of the blame on Chicago’s eventual winner when Nyarko latched onto a through-pass in the 58th minute. With Toronto’s Richard Eckersley in pursuit, Nyarko danced around Kocic at the top of the area for an easy finish into the open goal to make it 3-2 — a final score that kept Toronto as the only pointless club in MLS.
“If I stayed (on my line) he would have gone one-on-one with me,” Kocic said of the goal. “I came out and thought I could get it before him and I didn’t. The first two goals, what are you going to say? You saw what happened.”
To be fair, the Serbian kept the Reds in it 10 minutes in when a Terry Dunfield turnover put Oduro in on goal. But Kocic was up the task, making a sliding stop at the penalty spot to deny Chicago an early two-goal advantage.
With the game slipping away, Grazzini nearly made it 4-2 when his chip from the top of the circle came back off the bar in the 60th minute.
Looking to stamp his authority on the game, Frings advanced into midfield as Winter shifted Toronto into a 3-4-3 for the final 20 minutes — a tactical decision that saw the German create a number of chances in the final moments.
After dancing around a pair of players in the 75th, Frings slotted a ball to Luis Silva on the right side of the area before the second-half substitute’s cross fell to Johnson who should have finished from metres away.
The Jamaican’s hard luck continued in the 78th minute when his header struck the near post — the last quality chance Toronto would get.
“I’m hitting the post and last week I got two balls cleared off the line,” Johnson said. “It’s hard to keep letting down our fans every weekend and it’s really starting to get to me.”
And to the club’s manager, who for the first time this season admitted the club continues to lack the quality it needs.
“It’s not only concentration,” Winter said of the club’s defensive errors. “It could be also at a certain moment quality, it could be focus — everything … it’s too easy.”
With a trip to Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto looming — a venue that’s among the most difficult in MLS to steal a result in — an 0-7-0 start would match Kansas City’s 1999 record for worst start in MLS history.
Oduro’s first-minute goal doesn’t register in terms of fastest in MLS history. Dwayne De Rosario scored 11 seconds into a match with San Jose in 2003 … The Ghanaian’s goal 25 seconds in is tied for fifth all-time and was the 38th first minute tally in league history … What does it say when a 19-year-old homegrown player is better suited to start than Julian de Guzman? After watching Stinson — who Canadian under-23 head coach Tony Fonseca didn’t rate during Olympic qualifying — labour through the first half, Winter might want to reinsert the Canadian international … Lambe’s opener was a strike every player dreams of, but the optics weren’t good. It was Toronto’s first goal at home in 307 MLS minutes.