I respect Toronto FC boss Ryan Nelsen for not being satisfied with less. It really is commendable that he can watch his team, game after game, give up terrible goals at terrible times and not say what all of us are thinking: the players just aren’t good enough.
So I’ll say it for him: the players aren’t good enough. The roster isn’t good enough.
TFC is trying to do something about it, adding veteran players lately, including another one today in Israeli international Tal Ben Haim. Still, you have to wonder if guys like 32-year-old Scottish defender Steven Caldwell, New Zealand forward Jeremy Brockie and Haim have enough in them to be the game-changers needed at BMO Field?
Nelsen has a point when he tells MLSSoccer.com that teams aren’t “earning” goals against TFC. Bad marking, lost focus, poor positioning, failure to deal with routine balls in the box, etc., it’s all biting TFC as yet another season around Exhibition Place wanders off into the wilderness.
If not for woeful D.C. United, TFC would be right back in its old, unfortunately familiar home, in last place in the East. The latest setback was last night’s 2-1 loss to San Jose
What Nelsen said:
I think we were playing really well. They defended the box, were confident on the ball, got the goal and were looking very comfortable. Then [we] switched off on a throw in during the second half. It was just an unbelievably soft goal, but we have been doing that all season. I don’t think an opposition team has earned a goal against us yet. It has just been cases of us switching off and they just walk it though into the back of the net.”
Again, though, the overriding, unavoidable issue is a roster than just isn’t good enough. That’s not totally surprising considering the rebuild effort that president Kevin Payne and, subsequently, Nelsen, knew they were getting themselves into. Still, that may ring hollow at some point to TFC fans, who have long deserved better.
Robert Earnshaw’s opportunistic goals have propped up an offense that doesn’t have much imagination or punch otherwise. TFC is15th in shots, 14th in shots on goal among the league’s 19 teams. (Danny Koevermans’ eventual return to health should help, it should be noted.)
Things are just as bleak in the back, where even veteran Darren O’Dea has made crushing mistakes at the worst times. Despite good goalkeeping by Joe Bendik the team’s 15 goals allowed is tied for second worst in MLS (although by goals per game, Nelsen’s men are ahead of a few teams.)
The new faces certainly will not hurt; the question is, “Are they enough?” Because there is a lot of field left to plow here.