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Eastern Conference Championship

Despite eight-game spell, Toronto believe they're still in it

TORONTO — Even after a crushing 90th-minute defeat against a Seattle team that was down to 10 men on Saturday, Toronto FC have not given up on making the Major League Soccer playoffs for the first time.

The task will be difficult for a rebuilding team that has 15 points from 17 matches at the halfway point in the schedule and has not won a league match in eight straight outings.

“In this league, everything is possible,” first-year head coach Aron Winter said after the loss. “I said at the beginning, we want to battle to get into the playoffs. That target is still in my mind.

“Nothing has changed, because if you win two games in a row, then it’s completely different on the standing.”

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Winter is looking to make a playoff try possible by adding some players, and only goalscorers. They need leaders, too.

“My goal is still rebuilding to get a good team,” Winter said. “I know what I need to get better results.”

The players are still optimistic as well.

“You’re in it as long as you’re mathematically in it,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei. “The East especially is very tight, so a win here and there, a lucky bounce here and there ... with a good finish at the end of it and you get three points and that can get you right back into the race.”

Defender Richard Eckersley takes that a step further and thinks TFC’s 2-6-9 record is a bit deceiving and that his team is better than it appears.

“You’ve seen the way we can play,” the Englishman said after the Seattle match. “We are dominating teams, and it’s against the run of play really these goals that are coming. Once we stop that, we can start winning games and go on a run, and who knows where it will take us?"