It was a frustrating evening at BMO Field, as Toronto FC lost 2-1 to the league-leading New England Revolution on Saturday night.
Despite bossing much of the opening passages, it was the visitors who scored first come the 20th minute when Tajon Buchanan rose up at the back-post to head in a DeJuan Jones cross from the left.
And when Toronto finally found an equalizer through Jonathan Osorio in the 79th minute to set up a dramatic closing quarter of an hour, it took just four minutes for Gustavo Bou to reinstate the lead from the penalty spot.
“Obviously we're frustrated with the result,” said Osorio post-match. “From the way we played we feel that we deserved more.”
“You have to take your chances and at the end of the day the result is the only thing that matters, but the way we played was very positive,” he continued. “Credit to them, they found a way to win in a game where they were dominated. But we feel like we should have at least come out with a point, especially after tying it.”
“We have to keep going. We have a game on Wednesday. We have to put this one behind us, learn from it and take the positives,” Osorio added. “It was a positive performance and now we just have to find a way to get the results.
It was only the second loss under Javier Perez and the first at BMO Field.
“I always like to focus on the positives even if we left empty-handed tonight,” said the TFC head coach. “The positive is, in the second half last week, again this week for 90 minutes, consistently, that it's a good performance. We faced the best team in the league, the most effective team in the league – they had two shots on target, they score two goals, we had ~64 percent of the possession, and plenty of chances to get more goals, but sometimes it goes like tonight.”
“We have two very important games ahead of us and if we keep playing like this, we will definitely have more wins than losses and ties combined,” Perez continued. “We have to stay positive. We have to think forward and keep playing the way we played tonight.”
As always it was the ability to make plays in the final third, both defensively and offensively, that proved decisive.
The Revolution got in one dangerous cross and one troublesome turn in the box and they scored two goals. TFC had the ball in good positions, but were unable to craft clear chances.
When they did – a neat bit of wizardry from Yeferson Soteldo and Alejandro Pozuelo from a quickly taken short-corner on the left that saw Soteldo draw two defenders before playing back to Pozuelo who put a low ball towards the back-post for Osorio to side-foot home – they found a breakthrough.
But it was the goals conceded that were most galling – Toronto has not kept a clean-sheet since May 12, a run of 15 matches.
“We keep conceding goals,” levelled Perez. “We have to minimize the mistakes we make at the back, that's the first thing. And the second thing, up front move the ball a little faster into the danger zones, make runs behind challenging the back-line.”
“We did at times tonight,” he continued. “Getting players inside the box like the goal we scored – we have a couple of players inside the box, but fundamentally we have to minimize the mistakes at the back.”
This is an important spell ahead. Toronto has three more games this month – Wednesday at Atlanta United, Saturday at Inter Miami CF, and next Friday away to CF Montreal – before the league pauses for the September international break.
Having reached the midway point of the season, the clock is ticking.
“We look at our team and we see, especially more recently, the way we're playing and, of course, it's very frustrating to see where we are on the table,” said Osorio. “Very frustrating... I don't even know how else to put it.”
“But at the same time, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and we have to fix it. We can't just say ‘positive performances’ – it's good for a little bit, but at the end of the day you have to get the results,” he continued. “We're pushing towards that. When other teams play us, they know that, yes, we are last on the table, but I don't think anybody looks at us like a last-place team. Teams come into games against us knowing it's going to be a tough game.”
“We feel we deserve more from these last few games,” Osorio said. “But we've just got to keep working and find a way to turn it around.”
On to the next one.
“We look at the video and see those little details, it's just little moments that we have to not lose concentration and make sure that we don't put ourselves in positions where we're giving up goals,” Osorio stressed. “In this game, we tied the game, the momentum definitely has shifted fully and we need to find a way to not let them get into our end. Little things like that.”
“We're not satisfied with just positive performances, but at the same time, we have to stay positive,” he added. “That's the only way to turn this around. And so we take each game, game-by-game, and we take the good things and we look at the bad things and we try to fix them for the next game.”