No one should question whether rookie Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen will have the requisite fire and desire to head up an MLS club. His leadership as a player at D.C. United a bunch of years ago, in England subsequently and all along for New Zealand internationally speaks for itself.
Now carrying the coach’s whistle, the man will surely insert a boot up someone’s backside when the situation says so.
That’s why I like the reasoned, balanced approach Nelsen presented after Saturday’s disappointing result against the Galaxy. It wasn’t “disappointing” because it was a draw, a 2-2 result at BMO Field. The bummer was in the way things unfolded, with a defensive mistake for Nelsen’s club abetting a Galaxy stoppage-time equalizer. Thus, a potential three points against the two-time defending champs, a moment to celebrate and build upon, splintered in an instance into single point.
It would have been easy for Nelsen, in the emotional post-game aftermath, to make an example of all this, to blow his Kiwi top like some cartoon figure, stacking the rants about how this is unacceptable and how such things won’t happen on his watch … you know, all the usual stops along the Coaching Platitude Express.
Rather, Nelsen said the following when asked about something that looked way too familiar around BMO, the inability to close out a match. He took the bigger view of a young team growing into something rather than the narrow look at a moment in time in March, the first month of a long eight-month regular season.
Is it déjà vu when you draw with the MLS Champs? I don’t even think about last year. Late goals happen. They throw numbers in the box and balls go in. It’s not an indictment of this team. Nobody is blaming anybody, definitely not me. When you play against really good teams, sometimes that is what is going to happen.”