After five straight losses to begin the MLS season and the worst start in franchise history, the hope of turning its fortunes around and the goal of a playoff spot is looking faint for Toronto FC.
Toronto dominated possession, created several scoring chances and played well defensively against Chivas USA on Saturday afternoon, but in the end, a game that the team deserved to win resulted in yet another loss.
The Goats capitalized on a corner kick in the first half when midfielder Oswaldo Minda connected on a header from the near post. The goal stood up to be the winner as TFC fell 1-0 at home and were booed off the pitch at BMO Field by disappointed fans.
Forward Ryan Johnson and Danny Koevermans had several close calls between them, all in the second half, but just could not score. From big saves by Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, a ball being cleared off the line in desperation or a ball bouncing inches wide of the post – the ball would not go in for the Reds.
Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter thought his team was more deserving of the three points and chalked up the loss to a case of bad luck.
“I think we are in a period of bad luck and you can see it,” said Winter. “It’s amazing if you watch the whole game we gave away almost nothing, on the corner we weren’t sharp and they got a goal but we had so many opportunities as well. We had two or three chances from Danny and that shot from Ryan I don’t know where the guy came from and saved the shot on the line.”
Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy stops Danny Koeverman's flick at goal in the second half
A positive showing in CONCACAF Champions League had many hoping that TFC would finally make the jump and earn a postseason berth in league play. But those results have not transferred over and the team has looked lost since losing captain Torsten Frings to injury in the season-opener.
Chivas (3-3-0) is now on nine points but Toronto (0-5-0) is pointless and sit dead last in the league. From management to the players to the fans everyone is shaking their heads as to what has transpired so far. The overall picture may be bleak but the team remains positive about its chances going forward.
“I’m still positive,” said Winter. “I’m seeing a lot of good things. It has never happened in my soccer career, in my coaching career that you play five games and get zero points.
“You have to be honest, we are playing well, we are creating chances and we are in a situation where things are just not going the way we want them to go, it’s bad luck, it’s the only thing I can explain.”Added Koevermans, “The thing is we don’t play bad, we created our chances and we just didn’t score and had one against us. So we have to stay positive and think that it’s got to turn around. We should have at least six or seven points now.”
The good news is that Frings is expected to make his return next week. Another positive was centre back Adrian Cann making a successful return to the lineup after tearing his ACL last May. He looked good on the backline and was vocal organizing the other defenders.
Shutting the Door
Chivas captain Alejandro Moreno (far right) raises his hands in celebration after watching Oswaldo Minda's header bounce past TFC's Terry Dunfield and Milos Kocic
The first 25 minutes of the first half created very little entertainment from either club. It wasn’t until a defensive breakdown a subsequent corner kick in the 31st minute that the game had any life to it all. From a corner kick Minda was able to out jump Johnson for a downward header that fell between Terry Dunfield and goalkeeper Milos Kocic.
Eckersley made a poor giveaway in midfield as the half came to a close and led to a long range effort from Chivas midfielder Ben Zemanski but Kocic dove acrobatically to his left for the big save.
TFC came out fired up in the second half and Johnson nearly had a goal in 47th minute when his header from a corner kick was cleared away at the right post.
The next chance for Toronto came in the 70th minute when Joao Plata was able to create space down the left flank. He shook loose a defender and his cross was flicked by Koevermans but right at Kennedy. Koevermans, clearly frustrated, kicked the left goal post in frustration.
In the 80th minute, substitute Eric Avila sent a terrific cross field ball over top right to Johnson at the edge of the box. He snuck in behind a defender and drilled a ball at goal that was deflected by Kennedy but, incredibly was cleared off the line by defender Heath Pearce.
Johnson makes one of his many runs in Saturday's game and is closely
watched by Chivas defender James Riley
The two teamed up again four minutes later but this time Johnson had a free header and hit the ball just a couple of inches wide of the woodwork. Frustration was seen on all the player’s faces, especially Johnson who stayed down on the ground before getting up with a bewildered look on his face.
Then in the 89th minute, a long clearance from its own box bounced to Koevermans who nodded the ball down for Plata. He returned a pass behind a defender to the open Dutch striker but he was robbed point blank by Kennedy. This time Koevermans kicked the other goal post and swatted at the mesh in frustration.
“We could have had four five goals in the second half and credit to the keeper, he made a couple of good saves,” said a frustrated Johnson. “This is probably the most unlucky I’ve been in my whole career. This is something that is mind boggling and I can’t believe what just happened today, it’s tough.”
TFC will once again regroup and look for a solution to its record losing streak. The team will prepare for its next match against Chicago Fire on Saturday at BMO Field with kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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