VANvTOR pt 3 Recap x Grossi Imge

Frustration creeping in for Toronto FC after back-to-back losses despite dominant outings

The margins are thin; they always are.

After going unbeaten through 18-straight matches, Toronto FC now find themselves facing the other side of that coin with back-to-back losses.

The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a valuable three points on Saturday night with a 3-2 win over TFC at BC Place, putting them back into the conversation for who would represent MLS in the Canadian Championship Final.
Lucas Cavallini opened the scoring for the home side, his first for the club, in the 17th minute, nodding in an inviting delivery from Ali Adnan. Jonathan Osorio responded on the volley for TFC shortly thereafter, placing an Alejandro Pozuelo cross into the Whitecaps net.

All square at half-time, despite Toronto bossing possession and chances, Vancouver would retake the lead through Michael Baldisimo, smashing a follow-up from another free-kick delivery past Quentin Westberg in the 57th minute.

Pozuelo would equalize once more for TFC by heading in a lovely Pablo Piatti cross in the 71st minute, only for Jake Nerwinski to seal the result for the Whitecaps five minutes later when yet another set-piece was curled into the box. Andy Rose corralled the ball wide on the right, teeing up his teammate with a pull-back to the edge of the six-yard box.
Toronto threw everything forward in the final 20 minutes, but could not find the goal required.

Much like the loss against the Montreal Impact on Tuesday, it was another game where TFC dictated the run of play, but leave the pitch without a point.

“From 18 to 18 great,” assessed Greg Vanney of his side’s performance. “We were able to possess and play through them and get into dangerous areas, pinned them back pretty well, created a lot of dangerous moments that don't turn into dangerous enough chances to make the keeper make saves.”

“In terms of our possession and movement, our ability to get into the final third, good, but games aren't won between the 18s, games are won in the 18-yard boxes,” he continued. “We've got to turn some of this good play into more goals.”

“Having said that, giving up three goals is very, very difficult to win a game, it's difficult to draw a game,” Vanney emphasized. “They had maybe four shots (three, according to the stat sheet) in which we give up three goals, two of them off of set-pieces or second phase stuff, which is a bit infuriating because they weren't able to get much going, other than the set pieces that we don't deal with. The first goal we lose a guy running in off the backside.”

“My disappointment is on the goals that we give up,” he added. “We’ve got to be better than that. You score two goals, you should get something out of the game, at least a point.”

Disappointed and frustrated.

“It's frustrating to dominate a game like that, where we created a lot of chances, score on two, probably should have scored on a few others,” began Jonathan Osorio. “And to give up so few chances and then to concede on those... it hurts.”

“Defensively, as a collective, it wasn't good enough,” he admitted. “It's something that we have to correct. When we go back to training, we'll talk about those things, we will correct them and now we have to look forward to a very, very big game on Wednesday.”
Having built on the foundation of strong defensive outings, three straight clean-sheets had Toronto in prime position in both the league and the MLS regular season standings. In the last two games they have conceded four goals.

“I don't think our performances are bad, but results are based off execution,” said Vanney. “In both games our performances were good – we need to score more.”

“Last game we gave up a goal that we shouldn't off a set-piece, in this game we give up two,” he continued. “Our performances, our ability to create chances, all of that is good. But we've got to defend better; set-pieces, that's got to be better.”

“It's been a little bit too loose in the last two games and against teams that don't create a lot of against you set pieces are enormous,” Vanney added. “They’re always big, but against teams that can't really put much together in the attack set-pieces become such a vital piece of the game.”

In the two games combined, TFC has outshot their opponents 42 to 17, significantly out passed them, delivered 75 crosses to the opponents 23, and had anywhere from twice as much to a third more possession.

Dominance means nothing without the end product.

“There's a little bit of frustration – tonight I would put a heavier frustration on the goals that we give up,” pinpointed Vanney. “We're moving teams around, we're pulling them apart. Sometimes we don't put the final pass where we need to and sometimes we just don't release the shot when we need to – we try to make one more pass and try to make it just a little bit nicer.”

“Sometimes you just have to finish on the first touch and be ready for follow ups or put things away before people are set, before goalkeepers are set,” he continued. “Snake bit maybe. Yeah, a little frustration. We recognize that we're there, around the goal a lot. It'd be nice to be a little more unforgiving in putting the ball in the back of the net, forcing teams to have to play and take the ball out of their net time and time again, that would be nice. We're just letting them off the hook a little too much.”
With Michael Bradley absent having picked up an injury against the Impact midweek, Osorio was tasked with filling the captain’s role.

“It's an honour,” he said post-match on Zoom. “I’ve captained just a couple of times and, like I said before, it's always an honour to captain this club.”

He did so admirably, scoring a goal and proving a driving force in all aspects of the game.
 
“It’s not easy to – the shoes you have to fill with our guy that's not here – he’s done a lot for our club,” Osorio continued. “I tried to lead by example and the guys helped me. The goal today is a bonus. I'm never happy unless we win and I'd much rather win than score a goal.”

A quirk in the schedule for the three-team, six-games each all-Canadian portion has TFC sitting out the final two dates, so Wednesday’s rematch against the Impact in Montreal will be Toronto’s final chance to impose their will on the standings.

On nine points from five matches, a three-way tie is a possibility, but not if Toronto has their way.

“With us sitting out, having to watch the last two games, we don't have any more impact in the tournament. We've got to try to close this out and make it as difficult as possible for Montreal,” said Vanney. “The two of them will, on some level, take points from each other, but we've got to make the gap that they have to close as big as we possibly can.”

“Taking three points from Montreal is important and then those two have to duke it out to see where they’re at. That's the only thing we can do at this point,” he added. “We have one more game to get to the Final. We understand what we need to do.”

Echoed Osorio: “It’s huge. We've got to win. We’ve got to win that game.”

“There are no ifs, ands, or buts – we can’t tie either,” he continued. “We go there with a mentality to get three points and we put ourselves in good position to finish this phase in first place.”