For Toronto FC, Wednesday was supposed to be the about the dawn of a new era for the club – optimism and hope emanated from the squad with the acquisition of seven new players.
Despite featuring five of them in the starting lineup it was more of the same old TFC that appeared on the pitch against FC Dallas as the Reds dropped a 1-0 decision in hot and humid conditions at BMO Field.
Dallas midfielder Brek Shea scored on a brilliant long range strike at the beginning of the second half for his ninth goal of the season. He leads his team in goals and is just one behind New York Red Bulls’ Thierry Henry for the league lead.
Dallas carried the play at times in the game and could have scored a couple more goals but were unlucky. Towards the end of the match TFC had numerous chances of its own while pushing forward for the equalizer, but were not able to convert.
"We lost on a wonder strike by Shea,” said forward Ryan Johnson who arrived in a trade with San Jose. “I mean he’s a great player, it was a great shot, nothing our keeper could do about that – no chance. I’d rather lose on a goal like that then on some kind of mistake. So got to look at the positives – we created chances that we didn’t put away but we fought hard and we didn’t give up, so that’s something we got to look at."
"It was definitely difficult in the first half, adjusting to the tempo, the field, I was actually fairly pleased with the first half,” said Iro. “We only really restricted them to a couple of long range efforts and I don’t think Stefan had to make a save.”
“The second half, like most second halves, started to open up. Dallas is really a team that you can’t allow that space because their so athletic up top especially. In the second half we pushed forward we had some great opportunities, they had some great opportunities. They ended up winning on a pretty great goal."
Although it wasn’t a great night for his squad, Head Coach and Technical Director Aron Winter was very pleased with the performance of his new-look squad.
"First of all I gave the guys compliments because it’s the first time with a lot of new guys” said Winter. “If you saw the opportunities that we had on the pitch, it’s a pity that he didn’t make at least one of those chances. And we were also unlucky with the decision of the referee."
"I think one-two games, the guys feeling each other on the pitch and if you watch all the new players today they did quite well."
Although TFC suffered another loss – it cannot be a total surprise considering all the new players in the lineup. It is expected that Toronto will need time to gel and build chemistry before this team can be properly assessed. It almost feels like the club is going through a preseason training camp at the moment. However, this feeling out process will need to be quick if TFC has any hope of making a run at the playoffs this season.
"Definitely, I thought it was a good first game for us – first game being a key word because it is a new team. As much as you don’t want to accept that, that’s what it is. We have to be patient with ourselves, fans too. I think this is a team that can move forward and have some time with and this could be a very, very exciting team."
It was very evident that of all the new acquisitions all eyes were on Frings and how he would perform in his first game in Major League Soccer.
"Torsten have done it very well,” said Winter. “You can notice also that on the pitch he always asking for the ball and he sees the game also well. For Torsten he needs maybe another game and then he’s also very sharp. Today he played very well, he make also the difference on the pitch."
Considering all the changes to the roster and having very little time to train as a group, Frings felt that the team performed well under the circumstances.
"We played really well together because we only had one practice together,” said Frings through an interpreter. “I feel that we have grown together very strong and unfortunately we didn’t get a 100% penalty in my eyes and I feel that we played equally to the other team. And that Dallas is very strong team in the league and time will tell."
TFC Unable to Finish
The first half for the most part was quite uneventful but it did not take long for Frings to get his first chance at goal. TFC were given a freekick in the second minute and Frings drilled a low line drive right at goal but only to be stopped by goalkeeper Kevin Hartman.
The other new players got into the action as well, although the new defenders Iro and Eddy Viator were delivering poor challenges setting up freekicks for Dallas. However, the Hoops never seriously threatened the goal on any of its first half set pieces.
Danny Koevermans tested Hartman in the 40th minute with a long range strike, but the ‘keeper fisted the ball over the goal. The Dutch forward had another chance in the 45th minute when he connected on a long ball from Danleigh Borman, but Hartman was able to corral the header with ease.
Early into the second half Dallas opened the scoring on a great individual effort by Shea. TFC midfielder Mikael Yourassowsky turned the ball over in the midfield and was promptly picked up by Shea. He then avoided a challenge from Frings and dribbled the ball up the field before unloading a hard strike from over 30 yards out. TFC keeper Stefan Frei had no chance as the ball hit the left post and went in giving Dallas the 1-0 lead.
Toronto thought they had the game level in the 52nd minute but was called back for being offside. Yourassowsky made a great pass into the box for Plata who burst in behind the defence to easily tap the ball in, but he was offside on the play.
Dallas nearly increased its lead in the 60th minute but Frei stopped Shea from in close. Then Marvin Chavez headed the rebound towards goal but was saved desperately by Iro to keep the game close.
Maicon came on as a substitute in the 54th minute and helped jump start the TFC attack. He had a great chance in the 63rd minute but his curling left-footed strike was parried away by a diving Hartman. Just over a minute later, Dallas came back with a chance of its own. Jackson snuck in from behind and floated a ball of the top of the crossbar, but clearly had Frei beaten.
In the 87th minute, Santos had an open look on a ball from Nick Soolsma but his header just outside the six-yard box was directed over the goal. The Reds came close again in the 90th minute in a goalmouth scramble but Iro’s shot was blocked and cleared off the line by desperate Dallas defence.
TFC had one last chance in added time when Dallas was called for a foul just outside the penalty area. Frings took the freekick from 21 yards out but sailed the shot well over goal in what was anti-climactic to say the least.
Toronto will not have too much time to dwell on this loss as the focus quickly shifts to its encounter with Sporting Kansas City on Saturday night with kickoff at 8:30pm ET.
The Reds will hope to rebound and pick up an important three points in its first visit to the brand new Livestrong Sporting Park.
TFC return home for the first leg of the preliminary round of the CONCACAF Champions League next Wednesday. They will host Nicaraguan club team Real Estelí F.C. at BMO Field with kickoff at 8pm ET.
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Photos courtesy of JP Dhanoa
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