There were a number of positive takeaways for Toronto FC this weekend in Seattle.
A team missing more than a handful of starters gave the Seattle Sounders everything they could handle in one of the tougher road venues in MLS. Ultimately the Reds lost 2-1.
Eriq Zavaleta’s perfectly placed header sent shockwaves throughout CenturyLink Field. The defender’s equalizer didn’t hold up, however, as Clint Dempsey collected a loose ball and lofted it into the net for the game winner in the 77th minute.
At this point in the season moral victories are hard to come by, but Greg Vanney was visibly proud of his group for laying it all out there. TFC responded to adversity in the Pacific Northwest. Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore, Benoit Cheyrou, Collen Warner, Jackson, Damien Perquis, Justin Morrow, Ahmed Kantari, Danny Lovitz and Nick Hagglund were unavailable for the match. That’s 10 players that have featured for the Reds this season, missing.
Saturday’s tough loss may serve as a launching pad for a team that is expected to receive a significant personnel boost this week as players return from the internaitonal break and recover from injury.
Vanney, Zavaleta and goalkeeper Chris Konopka spoke to the media following the loss. Here’s some of what they had to say.
Vanney on his team’s depth heading into the stretch run
“I would take this group into most stadiums and play like that with that kind of effort and feel pretty good about us being able to get a result. We used a lot of players deep into our roster, but they’re all quality players. I’ve been saying that since day one – that we have a very deep roster. It’s just sometimes hard for guys to get minutes with some of the other guys who normally get the minutes. When called upon today, they were excellent. That’s all I can ask and they just need to continue to work because you never know. Last week we were quite healthy and this week, all of a sudden, we were very depleted. That’s how fast things can turn. It’s getting late in the season, we’re getting through the grind of summer, national team call-ups, the various things that affect the depth of the roster. Guys were ready. They competed today, which is all I’ve asked of them.”
Zavaleta on the challenge presented by Martins and Dempsey
“Obviously you can not let good players have time and space to make the game and they did that tonight. We will take that and learn from that and maybe make it harder for an Oba Martins or a Clint to have the space and time they had at times, but like I said I thought for the majority of the game we did a good job at keeping them at bay. At key moments big players score big goals and that is what they did and we didn’t get the result we wanted tonight.”
Konopka on adjusting to the young backline in front of him
“I didn’t change much. You just have to manage the guys in front of you and hopefully get everything out of them as you possibly can. They were basically at full strength and we were missing four or five guys that are consistently in our lineup so I think it shows that we can come out here and get the results if we put ourselves in a spot that possibly we can get something out of the game.”
Vanney on the match and moving forward
“We have no excuses in that locker room. I’m proud of the effort. I thought the guys played great and laid it all out there on the field. I thought we deserved something out of the match, but ultimately, these games come down to a play here or a play there. And that’s what it was in the end. We had some very good performances and some guys who haven’t played 90 minutes in a long time who went 90 minutes today. And a group of guys who hadn’t played together ever in the back who dealt with some very good players. I’m very proud of the group, but like I said, I thought we deserved something out of the match. We laid it all out there.”
Toronto FC returns to the pitch this Sunday at BMO Field against the New England Revolution (Tickets). The Revs are three points in front of TFC for fourth place in the Eastern Confernce.