From one stiff challenge to the next.
Toronto FC hit the road once more this weekend as they travel to Massachusetts to face the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night.
“It's always nice when you have a game right around the corner after a difficult one,” said Mark-Anthony Kaye on Thursday. “You don't have enough time to dwell on the bad feeling around a loss, you have to shift focus to the next game.”
“That's what we have to do,” he continued. “It's a tight turnaround, so we have to just recover well, take the most out of these next 48 hours before we head over to New England. It's a busy part of the year and you just have to keep pushing and trying to do the right things.”
Kaye called Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat away to league leaders FC Cincinnati “a weird one”.
“It felt like for the most part we played pretty well, had possession of the ball but didn't really do much with it, and then in key moments a lack of concentration let us down and they punished us,” he outlined. “Cincinnati's a top team and they showed it yesterday. We have to figure out ways to make our possession count.”
Toronto were on the front foot in the first half until Cincinnati took the lead.
“Overall the first 30 minutes were good,” said Bob Bradley. “But I still think that when you control the game the way we did in that period, you have to be able to threaten more. It gets back to our decision making and our execution in some key moments.”
With 24 goals against through 19 matches, only six teams in the East have conceded fewer goals that TFC – four of them currently sit in the top four spots in the conference. But with only 17 goals scored Toronto is third from bottom in that regard.
Hence the refrain of margins being thin. When a team doesn’t score while in control of a game it leaves the door open for the opponent to swing the momentum. Cincinnati did just that.
The side feels they are close.
“It's never been far away from getting things right,” said Kaye. “We're at the point now where we show a lot of good moments, but good moments aren't enough to win us games.”
“We have to put the ball in the back of the net. We need to be a little bit more clean. We need to see passes. We need to see openings. We need to make runs to the net. We need to be more determined and ruthless in our ability to score goals because possession is great – you get to keep the ball, you don't maybe run as much, but at the end of the day it's about goals,” he continued. “We're not going to win games unless we score goals and that's a full team effort.”
“Defensively we've been better, but when things aren't going our way we’ve got to be able to keep pushing and pushing to get that goal without allowing the goal [against] to stop us in our tracks,” Kaye urged. “We're frustrated that we play well and we don't get the results, but we'll continue to keep working hard and hopefully these good moments turn into better moments. Good isn't enough in this league. We need to be better than good.”
Toronto will have to do so without two starters from midweek as Jonathan Osorio and Richie Laryea have rejoined Canada ahead of the Concacaf Gold Cup set to kick off on June 24. They join Sean Johnson and Tomás Romero already in place with the USA and El Salvador, respectively.
“When you lose two players like that it's a big blow,” said Bradley. “We've talked about how important Richie has been through this whole stretch, playing different positions and playing at a really high level. Oso was out for a while, we were able to to get him back for Nashville and last night.”
“Those are two important players,” he continued. “And when we miss them it just challenges some other guys to be ready to step up. You'll see some different players get opportunities in this next stretch of games.”
Added Kaye: “It’s always a challenge when you're missing players.”
“It’s football, it's part of being part of a team. Other guys are going to have to step up and carry the weight for the guys who aren't there,” he continued. “We're not new to this. We've had to play with different groups of guys throughout this whole year, whether it be through injury or international call-ups."
Bradley said that it was a possibility that the squad could be bolstered by the returns of Matt Hedges and Alonso Coello Camarero by the weekend.
Toronto and New England have already met once this season: a 2-0 Revolution win at BMO Field on May 6 where Bobby Wood and Dejuan Jones scored in each half.
Bruce Arena’s side enter the match in good form, fresh off a 3-1 win over Orlando City SC on Saturday and riding a two-game winning streak and five unbeaten.
The Revolution are unbeaten in four against TFC, but Toronto has taken points from their last four visits to Gillette Stadium.
Carles Gil leads the way for New England with seven goals and eight assists; six goals from Wood and four assists from Jones help support the output of the Spanish maestro.
“They're a good team,” said Bradley. “And they are especially difficult to play against in their stadium: the turf, they adapt well. Some good players, they go forward in good ways, some dangerous attackers. So for us a big test against a good team.”