Toronto FC lost 1-0 to Orlando City SC on Saturday night.
Tesho Akindele scored the game’s only goal, nodding in an inviting ball from Silvester van der Water in the 12th minute.
TFC had their chances to level, including two solid looks from Jacob Shaffelburg, one that was cleared off the goal-line, and a wicked long-range shot from Yeferson Soteldo that was pushed over the bar by Orlando keeper Pedro Gallese in the last minutes.
It was a tight affair, decided by a single goal.
“Disappointed in the goal that we let up, but the attitude, the approach, the pressing, the commitment when we don't have the ball, the ability to create chances, the structure,” began Chris Armas post-match. “There's a lot of positives.”
“What's not so positive is the way we feel right now. The locker room is down,” he continued. “It's a big effort. You want to get rewarded for the effort. On the night, disappointed but there's some positives that we'll keep building on.”
In the aftermath, it can be hard to really digest a match like that. In short, it was one of those nights where the other team took their chances and Toronto did not.
“I'm a guy that likes to be honest after the games, win or lose,” levelled Kemar Lawrence. “I try to wait a little bit before I process everything, so it's always a little bit harder to tell you exactly what I want to tell you.”
“We created chances. We didn't finish. That's a part of the game,” he summed up. “I know that will come with the quality we have and the depth we have. But for me we've got to be tighter in the back-line, in our field.”
“That's one of the hardest things with any team and that doesn't come overnight,” Lawrence stressed. “We have to be really hard to play against, not give away any chances. And if you think about it, they didn't really create much. It's just that one and it's 1-0. This is football. This is how it goes. You only need one at times and you walk away with three points.”
Toronto will have another bite at that particular apple in a few weeks time, as the two sides are scheduled to meet again on June 19 – they will meet a third time in July – but before then there are other matters to attend to.
TFC travels to Ohio next Saturday for a different rematch, against the Columbus Crew, who they defeated 2-0 earlier this month. No doubt the Crew will be looking to respond to that loss.
“Looking forward to next weekend – roll back out there against Columbus and keep improving, keep getting better, keep getting guys healthy,” said Armas. “I'm looking forward to the next game. I won't look too far ahead. Orlando is off to a good start this year. They are well-coached and they have a good team. When we meet them again, we'll look to win that one, but for now, it's on to the next one.”
One noticeable different on Saturday was the atmosphere. Some 11 000 plus fans were at Exploria Stadium and that energy was evident on the field. It had been sorely missed.
“We like the energy,” replied Armas. “Credit to Orlando and their organization, the fans. They make noise. They are knowledgeable. It was a really good atmosphere. [Fans] come to see a performance and some entertainment. They got that tonight and they got to see their team win, but yeah, it was good energy in the building.”
Those little signposts along the way, for society or a soccer team, are important.
“I said it in the locker room, said to the guys, if we started off winning every game for the year, then when you lose one close to the playoffs, it's more difficult to deal with,” relayed Armas. “Whereas if you start off early, you learn from your mistakes right now. You build up the right way and you know what losing feels like and you know that hurts. You don't want to go through it again and again.”
“The players and coaches learn from it as well as the players and we progress as a team, not as individuals. Nights like this are really valuable, especially for me,” he continued. “It shows me what I need to do or who I need to back up a little bit more or touches I need to take. As a footballer, I'm learning and I'm growing every day.”
“There's a lot to learn and a lot we've got to do this week coming up because we know going into Columbus is not going to be any joke,” Lawrence closed. “They want their three points, especially since we just beat them a couple weeks ago. It's going to be a rough one.”