TORONTO - Toronto FC and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s nightmare continues.
Two months into its sixth Major League Soccer season, the club remains pointless after falling 2-0 to D.C. United at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon.
The latest setback left many of the players in stunned disbelief.
“I don’t like what’s going on, I know a lot of people don’t like what’s going on. It’s terrible, it’s unbearable, I don’t know what more to do,” snakebitten forward Ryan Johnson said.
“We can’t keep losing, we can’t keep doing this. This is disgraceful.”
“It’s depressing to fight so hard for so long and one moment they score,” midfielder Julian de Guzman added.
“We’re walking on eggshells, once it cracks everything just falls apart. And that shouldn’t happen at home … Losing this many in a row is very depressing and it’s very hard to live with as a player and I’m sure it is as a fan as well.”
Yes, those poor fans.
MLSE’s Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs for the past seven years. The Raptors have won just a single playoff series in franchise history, yet 18,364 masochists showed up to watch what somehow has been the least successful entity in the MLSE cupboard.
The crowd played the team off to a chorus of boos and also chanted “Let’s Go Blue Jays” as Toronto supporters had done when the hapless Leafs reached the dog days of a lost 2011-12 campaign.
Oh yeah, and captain Torsten Frings exited after injuring his shoulder in a collision with teammate Doneil Henry, flinging his captain’s armband onto the grass in disgust as he left.
After an uneventful, scoreless first half that saw the Reds again playing in a conservative manner, the team conceded a pair after emerging from the break with some spark and, as a result, questions will undoubtedly swirl about the future of team management.
The Reds dropped to 0-8-0, the worst skid in league history to start a campaign and two off of the league low, set by Real Salt Lake in 2005, despite keeping reigning league MVP and former captain Dwayne De Rosario in check.
De Rosario was a non-factor in his return to BMO Field thanks largely to the work of fellow Canadian international de Guzman, but he wasn’t needed thanks to goals by Chris Pontius and Hamdi Salihi in the 55th and 75th minutes.
De Rosario even feels bad for his former mates.
“They have got quality players and the best thing is to keep their head up, they have a long season ahead of them and if their heads go down it will be an even longer season,” De Rosario said.
“I feel for (de Guzman) and the guys.”
Disappointed head coach Aron Winter said he was feeling the pain like his players, but remains adamant things will turn around.
“I want to bring in an identity, a way how to play attractive football and also winning games … I believe still in it. It’s hard. We’re not so far from getting those points,” Winter said.
Continued Winter: “I’m not worried, I’m not thinking about the future I’m thinking about this moment. What can we change to get those points?”
With just six goals in eight games, it is clear many of Winter’s players have become extremely frustrated both with the results and with the style of play being demanded.
“We’re doing the game-plan and it’s not working now. I don’t know what else to say. He’s a good person, he’s a good man, the coaches are good people, I have nothing bad to say about them, they’re good guys, it’s just, we’ve got to figure it out, this can’t go on any longer. It’s hard to be on the field and going through this,” a devastated Johnson said.
“We’re playing so defensive. I like to push forward. I want us to be on the offensive. I felt like we were on our heels the whole time. Just sitting at the half the whole time. We did that last game (a 0-0 draw in Montreal) and it was just the worst, it was the worst, I didn’t even want to play anymore,” he said.
“We sit back and try to go on the counter, it’s kind of questionable. Nobody’s pushing forward, especially at home. When you have that homefield advantage they should have their backs against the wall, not us,” added de Guzman.
Though he didn’t call for a coaching change, de Guzman said the team’s record is “definitely some type of call or signal that something needs to be done.
“Eight losses in a row, I think that’s very embarrassing to walk with over your head. No player wants to have that.”
While Winter would not say the playoffs were out of reach with 28 possible points wasted, Johnson was more realistic.
“We’re going to win games, we’re not going to lose every game this season,” he said.
“But is it going to be enough to go to the playoffs? I don’t know. It’s going to be a miracle.
“I just wish things didn’t have to happen this way.”