Toronto FC lost 3-1 away to Inter Miami CF on Saturday night.
Rodolfo Pizarro opened the scoring after 15 minutes, Robbie Robinson made it 2-0 in the 35th minute on a quick counter that caught TFC stretched, and Pizarro added the third three minutes after the restart.
Toronto would pull one back through a Kieran Gibbs own-goal in the 62nd minute and though they pushed for a way back into the game no joy would be found.
“It was a really poor game from the beginning,” said Javier Perez post-match. “We give away a couple of goals – both goals they come like that. I take the blame on this one, it's my fault. I can make excuses, but the reality is I have to point the finger at me and take the blame for the game tonight.”
Playing their third game of the week, Toronto were lacking in the positivity that had been brewing in recent weeks.
“Times like these, the coach tries to take the blame for everything, try and protect the players, but if we are honest, if we are looking at ourselves in the mirror, how many of us can state that we were ready to play tonight?” replied Omar Gonzalez. “[We] felt like we were, but then as the game went on we weren't sharp enough.”
“We gave up a turnover which led to the first goal, which we know has been killing us throughout the season,” he continued. “We knew we couldn't allow that and still we allowed it to happen. And the second goal we just leave ourselves exposed and leave myself in a tough situation.”
“Were enough guys, honestly, ready to go? I don't think so or else we would have had a different first 15 minutes of the game. It's hard to swallow. Guys are hurting,” Gonzalez added. “We are trying to get ourselves out of this situation. We are trying to dig ourselves out, but somehow we keep on digging ourselves even deeper by making these mistakes. It was a tough one tonight.”
Once more defensive breakdowns proved costly.
“At the very beginning of the game, it wasn't bad really. We were playing in between lines,” observed Perez. “We start to have possession early on, but then we start making mistakes, losing balls that we don't have to lose and we have to run back, that’s when we are in trouble.”
And once more the first goal proved fatal – Toronto have conceded first in 14 matches this season and have clawed back to draw three times.
“We're not doing a good enough job on the defensive end, being smart of when to just get rid of the ball and play it up the field and put pressure on the other team,” replied Gonzalez, asked why the team is struggling to find a path back into matches. “Like tonight: we're away from home and in the beginning of the game, is it the right tactic to try and play out of everything? Or should we go long and put the pressure on them? Are we being too naive?”
“These are all good questions,” he continued. “On the other side of it, our attacking side, are we getting enough shots on goal? Are we getting enough clear opportunities or are we just getting into the attacking third and passing the ball around and it never amounting to anything? There's a lot of stuff that you could point to. Tonight we tried to still fight and find a way to get ourselves back in the game. We had a couple chances and we're just not clinical enough.”
Said Perez: “Once you concede a goal like that, it's extremely difficult to pull the team together, especially on a day like today, [where] we are playing away from home, everything is against us.”
“The season that we are having is taking a toll on the players,” he added. “When you get a strong setback like an early goal in the game, it's difficult to get composure and get the team going.”
No one game determines a season.
Toronto now have nearly a week to prepare for the next outing: Friday away to CF Montreal. A derby game, the second of the season, and the final game of the month.
Then lies the September international break before the next phase of the campaign begins on September 11 away to FC Cincinnati.
“Given where we are in the standings, we are giving it our all. No one quit tonight,” stressed Gonzalez. “I personally was dying out there, but I kept going, other guys kept going. We're not giving up. We still are trying to find our way out of this.”
“It's difficult, yes, but we are not going to quit, we are not going to give up on this,” he continued. “We're the only ones that can get ourselves out of this. And so as we look to this game against Montreal, we have to get a good week of training in, we have to focus, and we have to be on the same mission and that's getting a result against Montreal.
One game at a time.
“The group acknowledge that we are in a difficult situation. And it's a hard one to take,” levelled Perez. “We have to look at ourselves in the mirror and see if we are doing everything we can, starting with me. And focus on the next game. It's going to be the Classic, everybody is going to be motivated for that game.”