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Toronto FC shifts focus after result in Dallas

To say the least, Dallas has been unkind to Toronto FC.

TFC lost 3-0 on Saturday night to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas on a pair of goals from Dominique Badji either side of a strike from Bressan.

Toronto has lost eight times in Dallas through ten visits all-time, yet to win with the other two ending in draws.

The match was relatively even until after a hydration break around the 30-minute mark. Dallas came out of it refreshed and Toronto sluggish, the home side making the breakthrough come the 41st minute when Jesus Ferreira's miss-hit shot was touched in at the back-door by Badji.

Confusion reigned – in the end, Badji was indeed onside – but the goal changed the complexion of the match.

“Go into halftime 0-0 and it's a whole different scenario as we set up coming out of the second half,” said Greg Vanney post-match. “Goals change games and today was no different, especially on a day when it's extremely humid and hot. You don't want to get on the wrong side of this game because it's a tough game to chase in the conditions, so that goal means a lot.”

Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg stood on his head, making nine saves on the night, but even his heroics were not enough.

“Maybe at 1-0 [I'm] keeping us in the game, at that point if we manage a little better, then we can come back,” said Westberg. “But at 2-0, 3-0 then it's hard. No matter how many saves, I still took three. It's disappointing.”

Bressan scored the second six minutes after the restart and Badji added the third in the 58th minute on a quick counter, but it was the first one that stuck most in Vanney's craw.

“The first goal really took its toll because we put a lot of energy on the defensive side and [were] hoping at halftime when we got [Alejandro Pozuelo] on we could shift some of the attacking stuff, but then it became a game we were chasing,” explained Vanney. “We ended up getting stretched out and pulled apart; too many spaces opened up on the field. There were lots of different pockets that [Dallas] could utilize.”

Toronto shifted their formation come half-time, replacing Laurent Ciman with Pozuelo, changing to a four-man back-line, but Dallas' second proved nearly as crucial as the first.

“Try to stop their attacks a little higher and position ourselves better in transition,” reasoned Vanney. “Ultimately, we gave up the second one on a corner kick."

Westberg's performance aside, the MLS debut of 19-year-old Jacob Shaffelburg in the 59th minute provided a spark.

“It wasn’t the result we were looking for, but getting out there for the first time, getting my feet wet, was a great feeling,” said Shaffelburg post-match. “Leading up to it I was super nervous, from the moment I got the call for the trip. But, once I got my first touch on the ball it all went away.”

Signed to a TFC II contract last November, the Nova Scotia-native has impressed at the USL League One level. It was only a matter of time before he joined the first team.

“It was a good experience for him, so I'm glad he was able to get out there,” said Vanney of the cameo. “He gives us a little bit of something different as a lefty who's a true winger, gives us a different look.."

"It's one of those games where, to be honest, by the time he came in, there's not a whole lot to lose so he can just kind of go for it,” noted Vanney. “He showed his pace with the ball, his ability to run at people, to run in behind defenses, get into good crossing positions.”

“I thought he had some solid moments,” continued Vanney. “Some of the things he's got to learn the defensive side – his positioning, moving with the group, things like that – because when you have good teams, like Dallas, and guys who are clever about spaces they take, you have to be able to work through both sides.”

Heading into a difficult stretch of four matches in two weeks without the services of key players away on international duty, a tough loss in Dallas was not the way the group had hoped to start, but there is no time to dally, the next match awaits: a date with Atlanta United FC at BMO Field on Wednesday.

Vanney got his side back on the same page before they left the dressing room.

"We play a game in a couple of days and it's just making sure that we're all having the same conversations moving forward about what we need to do in the next game and how we just need to clean up a few things,” said Vanney. “It's important. Sometimes these types of games, when you're frustrated, can linger and I don't want it to linger. It was a good conversation."

Westberg summed up the mood: “We're in this together. We win together, we lose together.”

“Looking forward to Wednesday," he added. "Play Atlanta and show a much better TFC side.”