The Coaches Weigh In

Winter & Spencer put emphasis on attack, taking chances.

Improving the overall attitude, and strengthening each position with more depth in the squad were two priorities for Aron Winter heading into the summer transfer window.  The coach feels he is getting closer to addressing both.

“Character, let me say, is more than 50% importance for a player,” Winter said on Friday evening in Portland. “You need guys that want to be part of the team, help each other (and) work for each other.”

In terms of squad improvements, Winter said his players will still take time but likes what he has seen thus far.

“(We are going) the right way. You can see we are getting better, creating chances to score.”

RELATED: Portland-Toronto broadcast info
RELATED: Newly acquired defender Dasan Robinson (video)

De Ro Gesture For Fallen RPB

Toronto FC fans

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

TORONTO — It was a gesture not noticed by the majority of BMO Field’s 20,086 fans last Saturday.

Following TFC’s 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers, Dwayne De Rosario ran towards the Red Patch Boys section to a banner recognizing Rodrigo Novoa, a well-known member of the group who died suddenly last week.

With the banner in hand, he held it aloft to honor the supporter’s memory. He then took it back with him into the TFC dressing room where he made sure that it was signed by the team and returned to the family as a token of appreciation.

“It was a great gesture by a player that has had a lot of controversy around him,” said Boris Aguilar, president of the supporters group. “The Red Patch Boys feel very grateful for the gesture and I can assure you, the family feels the same way.”

Aguilar suggested that DeRo's act was a great example of the bond that supporters have with the team. Faced with the loss of one of their own, it was fitting that they took support from those whom they support themselves.

Obviously, Aguilar wishes that it didn’t take a tragedy to illustrate the need for supporters to move on from last season’s frustrations that saw them organize protests in the stands against ticket increases. However, he said that now represents an opportunity to get back to what the group was formed to do.

“We are back – back to supporting,” Aguilar said. “This season – especially for myself – I want to start out positive. I give the front office full credit for listening and coming through with the things that they said [at the season-ticket holder town hall meetings held last fall].”

The positive approach is echoed by U-Sector, which entered its second decade of supporting MLS and USL soccer in Toronto this past weekend.

“For now, there are still lots of possibilities in the season, so we’re excited,” senior member Ryan Keay said just before the game Saturday. “We’ve never had a winning team in the 10 years, so we understand how to stick with it.”

Winter was pleased with Jurgen Klinsmann’s hiring as United States national team coach. The German icon had close ties to Toronto through his consultancy group, Soccer Solutions. The group helped to hire the management team headed by Winter that was appointed in January to rebuild TFC in a different direction from the club’s first four seasons.
 
“First of all, I like that (Klinsmann) became coach of the U.S.A., he is a good coach. I wish him good luck. He is a good friend of mine, of course, we are still going to keep in contact.”

Soccer Solutions' formal ccontract with Toronto is "effectively over," according to the club, but "they continue to be available to (TFC) should the need arise."

Toronto was relentless in its last game with 73% possession and 19 attempts on goal in the Champions League preliminary round opening leg against Real Esteli. In Portland, Winter knows the team will need to make better use of its chances because the opponent on Saturday night is clearly eager to make a charge.

“I think it’s possibly bigger than the opening game of the season,” Timbers’ head coach John Spencer said on PortlandTimbers.com. “We need to get three points … it’s time to start putting in real 90-minute performances.”

Portland lost its last outing 1-0 in Columbus, sandwiched between a pair of friendly matches at Jeld-Wen Field against England’s West Brom and Independiente of Argentina.

“I don’t think we deserved to lose the game, but the reality is that we did lose.”

An own-goal was Portland’s undoing in Columbus after a dominating first half. Spencer will ask his team to recapture that performance without the costly mistakes against Toronto on Saturday.

Toronto beat Portland 2-0 in the first meeting of the teams at BMO Field on March 26.