Toronto FC in disarray

Toronto FC's Terry Dunfield makes life miserable for the Whitecaps' John Thorrington during the...

Toronto FC's Terry Dunfield makes life miserable for the Whitecaps' John Thorrington during the first leg of the Canadian Cup final. Vancouver looks to turn the tables in the second leg Wednesday night. (REUTERS)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

TORONTO - Danny Koevermans admits Toronto FC’s start is the most troublesome in his 12-year career — frustration he was reluctant to hide at RFK stadium Saturday.

“We’re setting a record for worst team in the world, man,” Koevermans said of Toronto’s 0-9-0 league mark.

Pressed on his post-game remarks, the Dutchman stood behind his stance on Tuesday, rebutting the expected backlash he received following pre-match training.

“Name me one team in the world that is 0-9,” he said, when asked if his comments following TFC’s 3-1 loss in DC were discussed among teammates.

“It is true when you look at the standings. Maybe if you ask (my teammates), they’ll say the same. You can’t say I’m wrong.”

Along with head coach Aron Winter, a pair of dumbfounded defensive players took exception to Koevermans choice of words ahead of tonight’s decisive Canadian Cup final against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“That’s his opinion,” Milos Kocic said of the comments. “I have a different opinion. I think my team is the best in the world ... Danny is one of my best mates on the team, but I don’t agree.”

Following last Saturday’s shellacking by DC — Toronto’s second poor showing in as many weeks against the surprise team in the East — the club’s defensive leader turned Koevermans’ finger back in the direction from which it came.

“It kind of bothers me because ... actions speak louder than words,” Adrian Cann said. “If you’re going to say something like that, then do something about it.”

Some would argue the Dutch target did upon entering the match as a substitute and cutting United’s lead in the second half.

Despite Koevermans providing a potential way back in DC for a team in the midst of one of the worst winless runs in league history, Toronto’s embattled defence conceded for a third time less than two minutes later — a goal that dropped heads late in the match for the second time in three days.

Eric Hassli’s stoppage- time goal during last Wednesday’s Canadian Cup first leg gifted the Vancouver Whitecaps a 1-1 draw ahead of tonight’s return.

And after conceding DC’s opener off a set piece a minute after the opening whistle, Winter was at a loss when asked to provide answers.

“If you don’t score and you’re making these (mistakes), then you’re never going to win a game,” he said.

That is, a league game — the Reds are unbeaten in seven consecutive Canadian Cup matches under the Dutchman, including a win and two road draws against the ’Caps.

“It’s strange,” the Dutchman said of his side’s Cup success. “Every game we prepare the same way and I think it (shouldn’t) matter if you’re playing MLS, CONCACAF, or the Amway Cup. Each game is a game and you have to go for it.”

Other than the trivial tiff brought about by Koevermans’ somewhat controversial claims, Toronto’s current form and susceptible back four is a concern in the buildup to what is now a one-off Cup final.

Coming off a spirited draw against arguably the most talented team in the West, expect the Whitecaps to be full of confidence despite giving up a late lead before a 2-2 finish against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday.

With the away goals tie-breaker in effect, a goalless draw would see the Reds advance to the CONCACAF Champions League for the fourth straight year.

But as the Reds were fortunate to have earned the two clean sheets they have from 16 matches so far, stifling the likes of Sebastien Le Toux, Camilo and Hassli for another 90 minutes will take a monumental effort and a cut of individual pride.

“We have to be tough and everyone needs to take pride in what they do,” Kocic said of the back four in front of him. “It’s a profession and it’s what (we) do every day ... You want to be the best you can and you want to help your teammates.”

 

KICKOFF

Marquee Matchup

Ryan Johnson vs. Jay DeMerit

It’s round two between a pair of warriors that went at it a week ago at BC Place. In the first leg, it was the Jamaican who came out on top, scoring a towering header and nearly providing a second goal late in the match. With Koevermans set to return to the starting lineup for the first time since early April, look for Johnson to play underneath the big Dutchman and have more opportunities to face up and run at the Vancouver defensive pairing of DeMerit and Martin Bonjour. Although the Jamaican hasn’t had the kind of MLS production the Reds expected coming into 2012, Johnson’s Cup play has been nothing short of fantastic.

TFC Keys

Limit set pieces: It’s no secret the Reds have been woeful when it comes to defending set pieces. Before allowing De Rosario to score seconds into Saturday’s match, TFC permitted Hassli to score in the first leg after a quick restart at the death last week. Keeping in mind Vancouver’s Camilo is deadly inside 25 metres, limiting fouls around the penalty area is a must.

Organization: Following De Rosario’s goal, the second two came as a result of defensive disorganization. Toronto’s back four must work as a unit for the entire match. Remembering that 0-0 will be enough to see them through, the Reds need to start with nine men behind every Vancouver possession.

Training Notes

Former Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte, 34, was in training Tuesday. Winter said the club is looking at signing the former Premier League winger for an affordable price ... After missing the match in DC, Toronto staff confirmed that Torsten Frings will be in tonight’s starting 11 ... Tonight’s winner automatically qualifies for the Champions League group stage.

 


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