Two games into the MLS season, Toronto FC is reeling.
“Two games, six goals,” said a downcast Toronto manager Aron Winter.
And two losses. Toronto may still be alive in the CONCACAF Champions League but it is 0-2-0 in MLS play thanks to a defence that is several grades below shaky.
Asked if there were any positives in Saturday's 3-0 home-opening loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, the Dutch coach said “No.”
“You can lose a game, but not the way we lost the game today.”
Chris Wondolowski scored twice and Shea Salinas added the third for the Earthquakes (2-1-0) in blustery, difficult and occasionally wet conditions before an announced crowd of 20,753 at Toronto's lakefront.
The goals were ugly ones for Toronto, with a string of Earthquake players queuing up to knock the ball into the net.
“We were not happy in the locker-room after the game ... It was not a good game from our side,” said the Toronto coach, which in Winter-speak is akin to calling the afternoon a disaster of Titanic proportions.
“There are a lot of things we didn't do well today,” he added.
Injured captain Torsten Frings had been keeping the leaky Toronto backline in some semblance of shape. Without him, it is an adventure in defending.
“To have Torsten (in that position) is completely different than without him,” said Winter.
Frings went down early in the season-opening 3-1 loss in Seattle. He's not expected back for four to six weeks.
The team has little time to sort itself out. It hosts Mexico's Santos Laguna on Wednesday in the opening leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. And Saturday's game was the first of five in 14 days.
Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic was steaming after the match, saying his team had failed to adapt to the windy conditions or put the Quakes under pressure.
“I felt like they're feeling they're playing at home and we were playing away,” said Kocic. “That's unacceptable.”
Toronto has never beaten the Quakes at BMO Field, going 0-2-3. And it had little hope of reversing that record after a woeful start Saturday.
There was blame to go all around. Winter painted a picture of mistakes on top of mistakes.
San Jose pressed from the start and went ahead after just nine minutes when former Toronto FC midfielder Sam Cronin found Wondolowski unmarked in the penalty box. The Quakes forward, whose six-game scoring streak ended last week against Houston, headed it past Kocic with ease.
Toronto's attacking trio of Johnson, Joao Plata and Reggie Lambe, with help from midfielder Luis Silva, created chances as the first half progressed but couldn't take advantage.
Winter looked to turn up the offence to open the second half with striker Danny Koevermans coming in for midfielder Terry Dunfield.
It took the big Dutchman less than a minute to start throwing himself around in the San Jose penalty box. And the Earthquakes found themselves on the back foot in the early going.
But the Earthquakes went ahead on the counter-attack in the 56th minute as Salinas, one of four onrushing Quake attackers available to Marvin Chavez, slotted a low shot past Kocic.
Winter substituted defender Ty Harden in the 64th minute, saying later he was unhappy with the performance. He could have said the same about almost every one of his players.
It was 3-0 in the 67th, with the Toronto defence undressed yet again. Rafael Baca broke in on the right and sent the ball across the box as Kocic rushed out. Wondolowski misplayed the ball and had all the time in the world to get control of it and bang it home.
Wondolowski could have had the hat trick but hit the goalpost from close range in the 87th minute.
Afterwards, Wondolowski conceded he could have had more.
“I almost had four,” lamented the striker, who upped his goal tally in Toronto to six.
TFC gave up a league-worst 59 goals last season and has not posted a shutout in 10 MLS games while conceding 19 goals over that stretch.
With Frings hurt and central defenders Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams still recovering from long-term injuries, the backline remains a real concern.
“I hate conceding goals and this is a terrible start to the season for me,” said Kocic. “Six goals in two games. it's not how defenders should play, including all of us.”
The day started with news that Toronto goalkeeper and vice-captain Stefan Frei would be out eight to 10 weeks after breaking his fibula in a freak training accident Friday.
The emergency backup goalie was Brian Rowe, a former UCLA second-team All-American who was a Chivas USA pick in the 2012 MLS supplemental draft. Rowe is an MLS pool goalie, available for just such circumstances.
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