Winter's issues might be beyond fixing

Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter looks on before his club's match against DC United last weekend....

Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter looks on before his club's match against DC United last weekend. (REUTERS)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:02 PM ET

TORONTO - Prevailing wisdom insists Toronto FC will have no choice but to oust its sixth coach in six years if the Reds fail to advance from tomorrow night's Canadian Cup semifinal against the visiting Montreal Impact.

More than a month into the conversation surrounding Aron Winter's job security, the Dutchman enters tomorrow night's return leg with his bags half-packed, hoping to improve upon a first-leg draw that saw TFC escape Quebec with a critical, and lucky, result last week.

But beyond results, the on-field actions and post-game remarks from TFC's players simply can't be ignored.

To put it mildly, advancing to the Cup final won't mask the visible frustration and distrust that began to emerge within the locker room towards the end of April.

"I don't want to say something that I'm going to regret," Ryan Johnson said following Toronto's record-breaking loss to DC United on the weekend.

Going on to call the situation "unbearable," the Jamaican international sounded off against his own club's tactics -- a direct shot at those making the decisions at the top.

"To be at home and (sit back) "¦ I don't really agree with a lot that's going on," Johnson said.

"It's really hard to go on day-to-day with what we have to do."

Players have been traded for saying less.

And it was during the second half of Saturday's 2-0 loss to the Black and Red that close to 20,000 supporters witnessed the usually calm, cool and collected Torsten Frings toss away his arm band like a piece of worthless cloth after leaving the game through injury.

"I did not mean anything negative," the German captain later said through the club's public-relations Twitter account.

Nonetheless, it was an obvious move of frustration from a world-class midfielder who has been a beacon of professionalism since the day he arrived.

Frings and others have consistently reiterated this year that the Reds have the experience and personnel to compete in the Eastern Conference.

"It's like we're walking on egg shells and once it cracks everything falls apart," Julian de Guzman said.

"The team we have here is probably one of the best group of guys I've worked with in my career."

Again, not necessarily going far enough to bury Toronto's management team, but hinting there are structural and tactical problems that reach beyond the quality of the players on the field.

SPEAKING OF STRUCTURE

Paul Mariner's (remember him?) training pitch appearance last week left many questioning the Englishman's role with the club.

While Winter was handed the keys to the car, Mariner, who was billed as the Dutchman's right-hand man last year, seems to be less involved than many thought he'd be.

"Paul (Mariner) will be responsible for our club's scouting, player acquisition, player development and our Academy," said MLSE executive Tom Anselmi before the start of the 2011 season.

Since then, the distance between Winter and Mariner appears to have grown, with Dutchman in complete control of the first-team while the more MLS experienced Englishman has taken a back seat with the academy setup.

With Thomas Rongen brought aboard to manage the day-to-day academy occurrences, if a regime change is in the cards, Mariner, a one-time successful assistant coach within MLS, is the obvious choice to step in and restore sanity.

Under then head coach Steve Nicol and Mariner, the pair guided the New England Revolution to a 63-47-44 league record from 2004-2009.

To put those digits into perspective, under the duo's guidance, the Boston outfit secured points in close to 70% of its league matches.

IN OR OUT?

The club remains tight-lipped as to the status of Frings, who left last Saturday's match with an apparent injury to his right shoulder.

The German was scheduled to be evaluated by TFC staff during this morning's pre-match training, but the seriousness of the injury remains a mystery.

As there has been no indication as to whether or not Toronto's captain will be available for tomorrow night's Canadian Cup match, it's possible club staff are withholding further information in an effort to stymie Montreal's preparation for tomorrow's second leg.

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ALL-TIME WORST MLS TEAMS

Other than the “most goals allowed," the following numbers are all post-MLS shootout era (1999) …

LOWEST WINNING %

1. Tampa Bay - 2001, .185

2. Chivas - 2005, .219

3. Salt Lake - 2005, .219

4. New York - 2009, .267

5. D.C. United - 2010, .267

FEWEST WINS - SINGLE SEASON

1. Tampa Bay - 2001, 4

2. Chivas - 2005, 4

Four teams tied with 5 regular season wins

FEWEST POINTS

1. Tampa Bay - 2001, 14 (season cut short due to 9/11)

2. Chivas - 2005, 18

3. Salt Lake - 2005, 20

4. New York - 2009, 21

5. D.C. United - 2010, 22

FEWEST GOALS SCORED

(TFC on pace to score 26 goals in 34 games in 2012)

1. D.C. United - 2010, 21 (30 Games)

2. Toronto - 2007, 25 (30 Games)

3. New York - 2009, 27 (30 Games)

MOST GOALS ALLOWED

(TFC on pace to allow 77 goals in 34 games in 2012)

1. Colorado - 1998, 69

2. Miami - 1998, 68

3. Tampa Bay - 2001, 68

MOST TIMES SHUTOUT IN A SEASON

(TFC on pace to be shutout 17 times in 34 games in 2012)

1. D.C. United - 2010, 17

2. Toronto - 2007, 15

3. New York - 2009, 15

 


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