Preki

The First Five Games

The wholesale changes made by Toronto FC heading into this year actually has Toronto slightly ahead of last season's pace in the standings.

Consider Toronto's results through the first five games in its four years:

2007: 1W, 0D, 4L, 3PTS, 3GF, 11GA (2 home games - 1W).
2008: 3W, 0D, 2L, 9PTS, 7GF, 8GA (2 home games - 2W).
2009: 1W, 2D, 2L, 5PTS, 7GF, 9GA (2 home games - 1W).
2010: 2W, 0D, 3L, 6PTS, 6GF, 10GA (2 home games - 2W).

This year is in fact the second best start to a season Toronto has ever enjoyed with six points from five matches. 2008 was the best start over the first five when Toronto capitalized on both home matches after shocking Los Angeles away with a 3-2 victory in the third match.

2009 was particularly disappointing when Toronto lost its home opener to Seattle, then dropped points in a home-and-home to Dallas in matches four and five with careless play in the latter stages of the match - something that would continue to haunt the Reds throughout the year. 

Contrast with 2010, Toronto has been cool and consistent at home and didn't look like dropping points late in either victories over expansion side Philadelphia, or the much more powerful club Seattle, as the two visitors rolled out of BMO Field empty handed.  There were game-saving stops by goalkeeper Stefan Frei, but none of the late breakdowns and post-75th minute horror that was so common last year even in the early going.

But Toronto's home form alone will not be good enough to make the playoffs if history is any indication. The club is off to a predictable bad start on the road, which is where 2009 was an anomaly from the other three seasons.

Toronto managed to get four points on the road to start 2009 after a 3-2 win over Curt Onalfo-coached Kansas City (the same coach who is winless with DC United so far in 2010), and a Gino Padula own goal handing the Reds a single point in Columbus from a 1-1 draw. Luck quickly ran out over the next three matches.

Toronto has not been lucky on the road in 2010 but they also haven't played to the ability shown this week in 2-0 wins over Seattle and Montreal (NCC opener). This may be due to the transition that Preki has talked about as a locker room full of new players buy into the system designed by MLS' 2007 coach of the year, who has never missed the MLS Cup playoffs in his career as bench boss.

Whatever the reason that Toronto can't replicate its home form away, the club will be severely tested on Saturday night as they step into Rio Tinto Stadium to take on MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake (May 1, 9:00 p.m., Sportsnet).

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