Ryan Nelsen

VIDEO: Philly has two 1st half header goals; Toronto’s just a mess

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Somewhere, Ryan Nelsen is looking over a new vintage of his wine and thinking, “This is a preferable Saturday.”

In its second match under new manager Greg Vanney, Toronto FC looks absolutely terrible and is 45 minutes away from dropping back-to-back games to the Philadelphia Union after getting Nelsen fired with a 3-1 loss to New England last weekend.

With all due respect to the Union, who are playing well off set pieces, this is just miserable man-marking by Toronto. The defense looks like a crew being taught how to defend.

The first goal by Casey? Maybe it happens with an experienced striker from time-to-time, but look at the defending before the ball arrives to the Philly striker.

And the second? Goodness, gracious. That’s Andrew Wenger, Maurice Edu and company just heading the ball around for fun. How about leaving your feet, Reds?

Vanney’s got a lot of work to do.

“Gutted” Toronto FC rues blowout loss to New England

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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.”

[ RELATED — MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC 0-3 New England ]

[ RELATED — Revolution feeling boosted by Jermaine Jones ]

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.

Michael Bradley was none too pleased with officials in Toronto’s loss to Kansas City

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Toronto FC lost 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night. Referee Referee Ted Unkel handed out eight yellow cards, with five of those going to Kansas City. Matt Besler was sent off with fifteen minutes remaining, but ten-man Kansas City still managed to find the winning goal.

Toronto manager Ryan Nelsen seemed most appalled by a play that occurred in the 23rd minute. Kansas City defender Aurelien Collin clipped Gilberto’s leg as the striker went clear on goal. Nelsen felt the defender deserved a red: “Collin should have been sent off. I mean an under-12 ref can pick that one. That’s pretty basic.”

It was Michael Bradley, however, who decided to appeal to the league, begging them to take a look at the officiating problems that are often present:

It’s by no means an excuse, it was the same for both teams, but the referee was absolutely awful. The people at the MLS office in New York, when they talk about wanting to improve the league, the first thing that needs to be improved is the refereeing, bottom line.

That shouldn’t come across as sour grapes because that’s just the reality. And it was bad for both teams and I’m sure they’re sitting in their locker room saying the same thing to themselves, but they’ve got three points with them and that certainly makes it a little easier to swallow.

Fans of Major League Soccer have been complaining about the league’s officials for years. But if it’s one of the top USMNT players that voices his concerns, will the league finally take notice?

Brek Shea’s agent: TFC “couldn’t come to terms”; much MLS interest

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It seems the interest between Toronto FC and Brek Shea was mutual and real, but the two sides were not able to come together on a deal, according to an MLSSoccer.com report.

When reports surfaced that Shea could head back to America after failing to make much headway between Stoke and a failed loan stint at Barnsley, TFC said they were “100% interested” in Shea.

With TFC holding the first spot in the MLS allocation process, it looked like a close-to-sure deal if both parties were interested. And they were. But Shea’s agent, Spencer Wadsworth, told MLSSoccer.com that it just hasn’t worked out.

From MLS:

“Yeah, that was a long time ago, though,” Wadsworth said when asked if Toronto FC had contacted Stoke for Shea’s services. “There was a discussion going on but that was a couple months ago and it just didn’t work out. We couldn’t come to terms. There was interest from all parties but it just didn’t work out at the end of it.

“Right now, Brek is due back at Stoke City for preseason on July 9,” Wadsworth added. “A lot could happen, but it’s not like a closed door completely. It wasn’t a bad fallout. It just didn’t work out. Right now, Brek is focused on being with Stoke.”

Wadsworth said there was plenty to consider for Shea; Many MLS clubs are interested in bringing him aboard. But it certainly has not worked out so far, and Nelsen has to be guarded in expressing his interest in a player under contract in the Premier League.

Stay tuned.

Bloodied Michael Bradley earning Toronto’s praise after staple-requiring win

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TORONTO, Canada — For sixty minutes, Michael Bradley fought the sloppy pitch and miserable weather at BMO Field during Toronto FC’s home opener.

His crosses weren’t finding their mark and, despite great possession, TFC couldn’t find a goal. Then, Bradley looped a ball over the top of the defense for Gilberto that ended up a goal for Jermain Defoe.

A minute later, Bradley went head-to-head with DC United’s Davy Arnaud, who left the field. Bradley missed a header and put his dome right into Arnaud’s mouth, requiring a full head-wrap and, after the match, 13 staples.

“He’s going to be in the locker room, showing it off to everybody,” said Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen. “That’s just another notch in his belt. To tell you the truth, he enjoys those.”

So it hasn’t taken long for the hard-nosed Bradley’s reputation to become reality for Nelsen, but the songs of praise aren’t limited to the 26-year-old’s toughness.

“He’s brilliant,” Defoe said. “He gives everything, every game. Mike’s winning mentality and his energy lifts the team and I’m sure everyone will say that.”

Of course, the American midfielder took a step back from himself when asked of his exploits. Even in deferring, he gave one of those inspirational quotes ready-made for a motivational poster with the picture of an eagle bearing down on a fighter jet full of nails and barbed wire.

“It’s more than just about one guy,” Bradley said. “It’s about putting a team on the field that every person who comes and watches can be proud of and go home feeling like they were part of something.”