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article imageMLS: TFC blanked 3-0 by Earthquakes in home opener Special

By Aman Dhanoa     Mar 25, 2012 in Sports
Toronto - “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
The famous saying could not be more appropriate for Toronto FC in its short existence in Major League Soccer.
Now in its sixth year, the team has undergone numerous changes to its front office and its roster, but the poor results and continued losses in disappointing fashion have been consistent.
Old habits returned on Saturday afternoon as TFC not only started slowly, but poor defence allowed the San Jose Earthquakes to leave Toronto with an easy 3-0 win. Once again, it was Chris Wondolowski who kicked dirt on the reds scoring a brace to pace the Quakes and midfielder Shea Salinas added the insurance marker early in the second half.
Wondolowski now has six career goals in three matches at BMO Field and spoiled the home opener for TFC fans by scoring just nine minutes into the match. He then notched another in the 67th minute to put the game out of reach and nearly got his hat trick in the closing minutes but rang a shot of the post. The forward now has three goals on the season and sits second in league scoring.
“If you watched today how we started, it’s not good,” said TFC Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter. “Two games, six goals. You can always lose a game, but the way we began the game, it was not good. It was like we didn’t want to play.
“But after that, we got in the game. And then, again, you’re making terrible mistakes to bring the opponent, and make them stronger, then you lose in the moment.”
Big Loss
TFC Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter watches his team from the sidelines
TFC Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter watches his team from the sidelines
JP Dhanoa
To be fair the Reds were lacking some leadership on the pitch with captain Torsten Frings and vice-captain Stefan Frei both suffering injuries in the last week. Frings, whose presence was missed the most, strained his hamstring and was forced to leave in the first half last weekend in Seattle and will be out four to six weeks.
Frei, on the other hand, will be out for much longer after breaking his left fibula in training on Friday. The first goalkeeper will be sidelined eight to ten weeks.
Since backup keeper Milos Kocic demonstrated his quality in goal last season, the larger concern was believed to be the loss of Frings. TFC relied on him heavily in the middle to not only support the offence but hold the defence together. As witnessed in the second half last week and the loss to San Jose, the team simply fell apart without him.
“We don’t have to forget that at this moment, it’s a big loss that Torsten is not playing to organize everything on the pitch,” said Winter. “At the moment he is not available to play, and we have to fix it on the back line.”
“You need somebody who can organize everything on the pitch. To have Torsten is completely different than without him.”
Veteran midfielder Julian de Guzman donned the armband as the stand-in captain will be looked upon for leadership on the pitch in the absence of Frings and Frei.
“It’s definitely a lot different without Frings and Stefan injured,” de Guzman said. “The most important thing for us is to remain as a team. We have that togetherness, and I think the unity and that counts for a lot at moments like this. If we can hold each other up I think we’re bound to survive these tough moments.”
Looking Ahead
Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski is congratulated by teammates after opening the scoring in jus...
Earthquakes striker Chris Wondolowski is congratulated by teammates after opening the scoring in just the ninth minute. He added another goal in the second half to ice the game and now has three goals on the season
JP Dhanoa
Due to the transit and parking issues, many fans were late and were still filing into the stadium when Wondolowski headed in a chipped cross from former-Red Sam Cronin. Although TFC eventually settled down after 20 minutes, but the team was not able to produce many chances on target. Only rookie Luis Silva came close in the first half but sent all three attempts over goal. More half-chances came in the second half but San Jose keeper Jon Busch was barely tested and only had to make one save.
At the other end Kocic looked frustrated and with good reason. His defence was porous in front of him and all three goals came on unchallenged strikes. Kocic was in goal in the 3-1 season-opening loss to the Sounders and has now allowed six goals this season.”
“It felt like we played on an away field, even though we played at home,” said Kocic. “I don’t understand why we put ourselves under pressure with no reason.
“There are certain things we have to be smarter about. It’s easy to say good performance or bad performance. Let’s take a look at the whole game and try to see what’s wrong, let’s work on it. But I don’t want to put my head down now. There are a lot of big games coming up. Just keep pushing forward.”
TFC will not have much time to dwell on the loss and will quickly shift its focus to CONCACAF Champions League. The Reds have the daunting task of going up against Mexican side Santos Laguna in the semifinals and will host the first leg on Wednesday with kickoff at 8 p.m. ET.
“It’s a quick turnaround, we have a big game coming up, so we can’t put ourselves down after this game,” said Kocic.
Added de Guzman, “From this performance today, we definitely need to lift our heads up and get prepared for Wednesday’s game.”
TFC is the last MLS team standing in the competition after Santos dispatched the Sounders easily with a 6-1 second leg win in Mexico. Unlike the quarterfinals against LA Galaxy where the first leg was staged at the cavernous Rogers Centre, the game will be played at BMO Field.
Toronto will return to league action on Saturday when the team hosts the Columbus Crew.
Aman Dhanoa is a Toronto sports beat reporter covering games live and bringing Digital Journal insights from within the locker room.
This article was originally published on Oye! Times
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