Toronto FC looking for more “energy” in match vs. Houston

TORONTO – It was a night where little went to plan.

The Houston Dynamo came to BMO Field on Saturday night and left with the three points following a 3-1 win over Toronto FC.

Tommy McNamara opened the scoring after just six minutes, played in on goal by Memo Rodriguez and Tomas Martinez made it two come the 23rd minute after a neat turn from Mauro Manotas put him in behind the TFC back-line.

“Concentration cost us two goals in the first half,” said Jonathan Osorio post-match. “We came out in the second half better, but a mistake led to a third goal and that really hurt us. Just not good enough from all of us, we needed to provide the team with energy and we didn't.”

It was a scorcher in Toronto, but nobody was looking for excuses.

“We came out flat,” added Liam Fraser. “All the guys know we didn’t come out with the energy that we needed to. We all had fresh legs and that should have been our priority: coming out, pressing them and putting all our energy on the field. But we didn’t do that and we got behind the eight-ball really quick in the game.”

Playing a third game this week, riding a two-game winning streak, Greg Vanney opted to rotate his lineup, inserting those aforementioned fresh legs in hope of a spark.

“Our third game in a short period of time,” explained Vanney in his press conference. “At the end of the last game a lot of guys tanks were very empty. So I made a calculated move to try to bring an energetic group onto the field to boost the tempo at the start, knowing that we would have guys to come and push the game at the end with extra quality to try to win.”

“The problem was we couldn’t come out with any energy,” continued Vanney. “We were stagnant, slow, passive, too soft. The goals we gave away are ridiculous. It didn’t work. It should have been a group of guys who were very eager to go out, push it and prove something and it just came out real slow.”

“Made a couple moves and became more aggressive in the second half; were able to really pin them back. The third goal for me is just killer,” concluded the coach. “At 2-0, with the quality of the group that was coming on and the amount of pressure we were putting on, we had a real chance to get back into that game. If we get to [2-1], then the next one looks closer, but the third was not only ridiculous, in terms of how we dealt with it, but it was costly in the course of the game.”

The result spoiled what should have been a memorable one for Justin Morrow, who was making his 200th appearance for TFC.

“This club has given me everything and I try to repay them every time I step on the field,” said Morrow. “It didn't happen tonight, but this week has been a good week for us and we look forward.”

“We started on the back foot tonight in all ways. We can't do that, especially not at home,” summed up Morrow. “We put ourselves in a hole. We showed some energy in the second half, to get back into the game, to fight, but ultimately when they scored that third goal it's difficult.”

Jozy Altidore and Jacob Shaffelburg had been inserted into the action at the start of the second half and Toronto looked to be finding a way back into the match, but come the 57th minute, Manotas, having set up the second added the third with a solo effort.

“I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s one guy against five,” said Vanney. “For us to not be able to end that play – there are multiple ways to end the play: you can win the ball or even commit a foul. But for him to get through five of our guys and get the goal is completely inexcusable. I can’t even explain how we even get into that situation. It was keystone cops.”

Altidore would find a consolation goal in the 75th minute, nodding in at the back-post to continue his hot streak – the striker has scored in all three matches since returning from the Concacaf Gold Cup with a lovely free-kick against the Montreal Impact and that deft back-heel against the New York Red Bulls.

Toronto ends the week having collected six of the nine points on offer and now prepare for the visit of FC Cincinnati next Saturday. 

“Guys tried to do the things we talked about, tried to go after the game, had every intention of stepping on that field and being sharp and going after things in a good way from the beginning. There’s two teams on the field, so just because you step on the field wanting to do those things, there’s an opponent and in this case an opponent that was dangerous,” said Michael Bradley, who came off the bench for the first time in TFC colours. “They’ve not had a good run. Wednesday they played in Atlanta and lost by a heavy scoreline and now they come in with a chip on their shoulder, ready to do anything possible to come away with points. It makes for a tricky night.”

“We’re disappointed to not to have taken advantage of another home game. Wins in Montreal and home to Red Bull were really important, we had hoped to make it nine points this week, but that's life,” said the captain. “Now we regroup, get ready for a big game Saturday against Cincinnati.”