TORONTO, CANADA — This was not the year that Toronto FC would be talking about playoff-spot six-pointers in August, much less losing them.
But there was Bradley Orr, a former Premier League back, emotionally stung. The defender was bemoaning the missed chances and soft goals in a 3-0 spanking at the hands of the New England Revolution on Saturday night.
“We feel gutted at the moment,” Orr said. “Really disappointed. But we’ve got to shake that off immediately because we got a game Wednesday. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we have to dust ourselves down and go again. We have to show a bit of character now and go up against Philadelphia on Wednesday and win.”
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The ‘gutted’ nature of things is understandable. Sure, TFC is missing integral pieces Jermain Defoe, Steven Caldwell and Justin Morrow, and taking just one point from three games happens almost every season.
But it’s how the losses have gone down. Toronto bookended a disappointing home draw against Chicago by getting blown out at Sporting KC and New England.
The Revolution’s Jermaine Jones was the USMNT midfielder walking off the field with three points, not TFC’s Michael Bradley. He was the player whose signing was supposed to foretell the long-desired greatness at BMO Field.
Yet Bradley, unsurprisingly, is keeping an even keel despite the piling-up losses. TFC went 2-2-1 in August, but is still in the catbird seat for the playoffs due to their low numbers of games played.
“Must win? No,” Bradley said. “There are still a lot of games left, a lot of football to be played and a lot of points on the table. It was a big game but they all are… The important thing is to respond in a strong way and get ourselves ready for Wednesday.”
Of course he’s right, and Defoe should be back soon to help right the ship (We know how crucial strikers are in MLS… and everywhere).
But what about TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen? He certainly must be feeling pressure, but didn’t let on.
“We write this one off,” Nelsen said. “This is football. We are still in a lovely position, we move on and we have a really important game on Wednesday.”
Toronto is far from cooked and, while I wouldn’t label their position ‘lovely’, they should be just fine. But with the gap from third place to eighth place a mere seven points in the East, the good kind of desperation needs to creep into their play.
The Reds will face Philadelphia in Pennsylvania on Wednesday in a match that could draw the two teams level.