Reds Reflect, Look Forward

Mariner, players start to put 2012 behind them, begin planning for next season.

Photo: Richard Eckersley feels 2012 preseason wasn't good enough & it cost the Reds (Getty)

It fell to veteran defender Adrian Cann to put Toronto FC’s season in perspective at Tuesday’s media farewell.

“You learn from your mistakes but quite frankly we didn’t.” he said. “To answer your question, I don’t really know how to answer your question. “

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Video: Richard Eckersley & Eric Hassli in year end interviews.

Cann has dabbled as a model. You know what they say, out of the mouth of babes…

The confounding mystery that was the 2012 season was finally put to bed, Tuesday.  A season that began with a 2-2 Champions League draw and then a win against the Los Angeles Galaxy somehow morphed into two separate losing (0-9) and winless (0-10-4) streaks.

Toss out a pair of Champions League victories over CD Aguila and you find TFC did not win a game after July 18 when they beat Colorado 2-1 at BMO Field.

It fell to players and media to put things in perspective but how much perspective can you glean from a season that brought five wins, 21 losses and eight ties?

The only answer is, as Cann said so eloquently, is there is no single answer.

Certainly, injuries were critical.

The team lost Danny Koevermans to a torn left ACL injury in July. The veteran striker had scored nine goals in 16 games when he went down. Frenchman Eric Hassli was recruited to replace Koevermans but he was knocked out by a multiple injuries.  Goalkeeper Stefan Frei was lost to an ankle injury in April. Thirty-five year old Torsten Frings’ season was decimated by injuries and was ended by hip surgery in Germany.

“Throughout the last 14 games, we had 50 to 70 per cent of our salary cap sitting on a training table,” said Earl Cochrane, director of team and player operations.

Defender Richard Eckersley said the team’s lack of fitness coming out of training camp contributed to the miseries.

“If we can bring that to our game, there’s no doubt we have fantastic quality but I think that fitness is going to be vital.”

“Personally I don’t think the pre-season was good enough for fitness so maybe that was a big factor in our season,” he said.

When the big guns went down the team’s young players were forced to step in, often out of position and without the requisite experience.

When asked how many MLS quality regulars he had on his roster, manager Paul Mariner indulged in a long pause.

“Seven,” he said.

It falls to Mariner and Cochrane to fix that.

“We’ve known for some time what we need and we know where we’re going to get them,” Mariner said.