The margin for error is gone and the people entrusted with securing Toronto FC’s first playoff berth know it.
“My message to the guys was, what we lost today was our margin of error for the rest of the season,” TFC head coach Greg Vanney said following the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Houston at home on Wednesday night.
TFC registered a litany of chances that didn’t find the back of the net. Because of this their playoff chances hang in the balance. A trip to New York will decide their fate. Cue the terrible and unnecessary Frank Sinatra joke.
Michael Bradley was succinct following the game. The Reds aren’t finished.
“Take nine points and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be right there,” Bradley said.
The numbers back him up. Sportsclubstats.com gives TFC a 100% chance of making the playoffs if they win their final three games. That number dips down to 90% if they manage to win twice and draw once. Winning twice and losing once gives them a 55% chance of getting in.
Simply put, this is it.
“Destiny is still in our own hands but it makes it a little bit harder the next three games,” rookie defender Nick Hagglund said. “We have to win so we have to be precise and stay together and this is something we can learn from.”
The positives on a drizzly, cold night in Toronto were hard to find in the immediate aftermath of the loss, but they were there. TFC managed 26 shots on goal. They were the dominant team on the ball even before A.J. Cochran’s red card. Unfortunately they ran into a red hot goalie in Tyler Deric and soccer gods bent on making it a rough night at BMO Field.
The post-mortem analysis from Greg Vanney was measured, yet forceful. This is it.
“Now we’ve got to pick up wins on the road in addition to the one home match we got against Montreal,” Vanney said.
“For me we’ve got to be almost perfect from here on out. Which means if we play like tonight and we finish our chances then maybe that’s enough. “
Thierry Henry and Bradley Wright-Phillips are the first boss in a three level quest for the playoffs. Nobody said it would be easy.