Houston snaps TFC's streak

Toronto FC's Terry Dunfield challenges Houston Dynamo's Brad Davis (front) for the ball on...

Toronto FC's Terry Dunfield challenges Houston Dynamo's Brad Davis (front) for the ball on Saturday. (REUTERS/Brett Gundlock)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:33 PM ET

TORONTO - Toronto FC head coach Paul Mariner said he’ll do his usual post-match tape review of Saturday afternoon’s 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo.

He just doesn’t “think there’s much to review about” TFC’s most lethargic home fixture to date under his guidance.

In a loss that snapped Toronto’s surprising three-game winning streak, the Englishman was the first to admit Saturday that the Reds couldn’t compete with last year’s MLS finalists.

“I think you have to hold your hand up,” he explained. “Houston was a much better side today. The massive turning point for me was the last kick of the first half … I was hoping to get (into the half) at 0-0.”

Instead, a Brad Davis corner seconds into first-half stoppage time connected with Houston’s Bobby Boswell, whose flick on found Calen Carr at the back stick. His third goal in two games, Carr rose to head the ball between Kocic and the back post to put the visitors in front before halftime.

“There are so many goals where I can’t really do anything,” Kocic said. “We’ve conceded who knows how many goals this year on set pieces.”

After conceding for the 14th time this season from a cross, corner or restart, Mariner was pressed on the club’s inability to bring in a promised summer signing — specifically, a central defender.

With a reported deal to bring Swedish international Olof Mellberg to Toronto falling through, Mariner said help could be on the way by the end of the weekend — something supporters have heard before.

“I could have brought scores of (defenders) in,” Mariner said. “What’s the point in (panicking)? We’re in it for the long haul. We’re not in it for 10 minutes.”

The Reds weren’t in the game for much longer than that Saturday.

Following Houston’s opener Toronto rarely threatened. Its only chance of the second half coming in the 72nd minute when a Torsten Frings free kick was headed across goal by Ryan Johnson to Luis Silva. Playing in an unfamiliar role on the left side of TFC’s attack, Silva’s header from metres out was deflected over the crossbar.

The decision to break up the Johnson-Silva partnership up front seemed to fall flat. Freshly signed Quincy Amerikwa struggled to fend off Boswell and Canadian centre back Andre Hainault, who won just about every 50-50 ball Toronto played forward.

Still, Mariner was steadfast in his decision to slide his first-round draft pick out wide in favour of Amerikwa, who he started because of his previous experience playing alongside Johnson in San Jose.

“No,” said Mariner, when asked if he regretted the adjustment. “Luis (Silva) can play left-hand side, he can play up front, underneath and he can play in the centre.”

The 19,652 in attendance began filing out five minutes from full time when Houston’s Designated Player Oscar Boniek Garcia played Davis in behind Toronto’s Jeremy Hall, who overcommitted and left a wide open space for Davis to exploit.

The left-footer grabbed his second assist of the game when his low cross rolled to an unmarked Brian Ching at the penalty spot for a clinical finish.

“There’s no panicking, shouting or screaming,” Mariner said. “You’ve got to take your hats off to (Houston).”

While a brief run of positive form renewed the club’s slim playoff hopes, Saturday’s sobering loss brought supporters back to their senses.

But a second season begins this week — one that instilled a bit of energy to end the club’s 2011 campaign.

Toronto hosts Salvadorian side Aguila to open Champions League group play Wednesday at BMO Field.

HASSLI A CHARACTER

Eric Hassli was surprised and disappointed when he learned of his move to Toronto FC earlier this week.

Acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps for TFC’s 2014 first-round pick and an international roster spot through 2013, the Designated Player was introduced to Toronto media before Saturday’s game.

“I was a little bit surprised,” Hassli said of the deal. “I came from practice … and they called and told me I’ve been traded. Surprised, but really excited after speaking with (Paul Mariner).”

The 31-year-old towering target man’s falling out with Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie is well-documented. After scoring 11 goals in all competition for the ’Caps in 2011, the Frenchman has just two goals in 18 MLS appearances this season.

“I don’t want to talk too much about Martin Rennie,” said Hassli. “He has his type of player and I respect that … I played two years in Vancouver … It was a little surprising.”

Head coach Paul Mariner confirmed Saturday that Hassli is not a replacement for Danny Koevermans, who is out for the remainder of the season with an ACL tear. Toronto’s bench boss said he “absolutely” expects to see the Dutchman return.

As for his newest, tatted up imposing target man, he couldn’t say enough.

“What a presence this guy is,” Mariner said of Hassli. “He’s a very, very imposing character … We need characters in this team.”

Hassli missed Saturday’s match with an ankle injury. He’s expected to return as soon as Wednesday’s Champions League group match.

 


Videos

Photos