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Brian Edwards #18 of the Toronto FC reacts after being scored on by the New York Red Bulls during the game on October 24, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) (Jared Wickerham/2009 Getty Images)
Brian Edwards #18 of the Toronto FC reacts after being scored on by the New York Red Bulls during the game on October 24, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) (Jared Wickerham/2009 Getty Images)

Jeff Blair

Canada's soccer shame Add to ...

What a shambles. What an utter embarrassment.

And look what was wrought by Toronto FC's staggering 5-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls Saturday night: the head coach essentially said he didn't care whether or not he came back next year and said that management made promises to him it didn't keep. Sam Cronin - a rookie - said pointedly that the team needed "a culture change and a psychological overhaul," and it was a statement that was not disputed by Dwayne De Rosario.

"I want to see more heart on this team," De Rosario said, then asked: "How do you teach that? You tell me. I could have came in here and kicked everything down but what's that going to prove. I've done it many times and there's been no response. Been there and done that."

"Karma is a funny thing," said De Rosario. "If you work hard every day and train hard every day, your mind is 100-per-cent focused and chances are things are going to go your way. And I just don't think we have that."

In the end they didn't even need to bother with the math or tie-breakers or any of that drivel. Down 1-0 after just two minutes in a game that was delayed for 16 minutes by a series of thunderstorms that rolled through the region, Toronto FC stayed true to form and blew a much-needed playoff berth. They had possession. They did nothing with it. And in the end it was two goals in the space of eight minutes in the second half - Juan Pablo Angel's second of the night and Macoumda Kandji's second of the night - that buried TFC for good. Matthew Mbuta added the fifth goal from the spot.

And when D.C. United drew 2-2 with the Kansas City Wizards later in the evening, their hopes were buried.

It was the final soccer match at Giants Stadium - the Red Bulls didn't make the playoffs and will open a new facility in nearby Harrison, N.J., next year.

The recriminations will commence and change need to start at the back, where TFC's slow-footedness has been a weakness opposing teams have used to their advantage all season long.

Saturday night it was Adrian Serioux's turn to be a pylon and he filled that role well, especially on the Red Bulls' first goal when Kandji took Angel's one-touch ball and sent it past goalkeeper Brian Edwards, on a pitch that was drenched for most of the night. Nothing wrong with De Rosario and Julian de Guzman and Cronin.

O'Brian White is a keeper up front, but Chad Barrett took himself out of the match and he and Ali Gerba, frankly, haven't shown enough to be back in 2010.

TFC has drafted well and made some decent acquisitions and added two premier Canadian-born players in de Guzman and De Rosario. But there's no evidence that Mo Johnston, manager of soccer, has what it takes to lift TFC to the next level and dissatisfaction with Johnston is rampant not just among the fan-base but also around the team.

Yet, according to Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment executive vice-president and chief operating officer Tom Anselmi, one change will definitely not be made: Johnston will be back. Please keep the cheering down to a dull roar.

As for Chris Cummins? Cue the tape. Asked if he even wanted the job, Cummins - who took over for John Carver in April - chuckled and said: "Listen, I was asked to come in and do a job until the end of the season and that's what I've done. I've made mistakes all the way, the same as everyone else. Will I be here next year? Listen, there's a fair chance I won't be. My family's back in the UK and I need to be near my family. They came out with me when I first came out and unfortunately there was things promised me that I didn't get at the end of it."

Cummins wouldn't say what those promises were, but the fact he would be so bold suggests that something's not entirely right with the way TFC does things. Johnston's lucky, frankly, that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors have serious issues of their own.

"We didn't make the playoffs not because of tonight - we've been inconsistent all season," said Cummins. "Don't get me wrong. We're so disappointed to lose the way we lost. Giving up the early goal hurt … but I just don't think we had enough character.

"When there's a little bit of pressure on, we haven't dealt with it," said Cummins. "We needed a result and I felt they (Red Bulls) showed a lot more hunger than we did. We need to have a good look at ourselves."

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