Toronto can feel their confidence growing after huge week
TORONTO — In the span of four days, Toronto FC have won two games.
That is indeed a big deal for a team that had not tasted victory since May 7, a span of 10 games in all competitions including nine in Major League Soccer. And the latest — a comeback over Vancouver on Saturday that clinched TFC a third consecutive Nutrilite Canadian Championship — is easily the sweetest.
“It feels amazing,” ‘keeper Stefan Frei said after Saturday’s 2-1 win at BMO Field. “It’s something I would love to get used to.”
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Fittingly, both of Toronto’s victories this past week were against the Whitecaps. TFC won here on Wednesday 1-0 on Nick Soolsma’s second-half penalty, a match head coach Aron Winter said was a big confidence lift for a side that needed one.
Then the Reds won Saturday on Joao Plata’s second-half penalty and Mikael Yourassowsky’s first goal for the team about 10 minutes later to win the NCC finals on 3-2 aggregate.
“You enjoy it, but we have a few things coming up in the league and we want to keep that momentum going,” Frei said. “Because if we go on a losing streak again, then all these wins don’t really matter.”
Saturday’s victory finished off a week of positive buzz around the club. Before Wednesday’s game, TFC announced the signings of two Designated Players in midfielder Torsten Frings and forward Danny Koevermans. Though the duo will not be able to play until later in the month, it showed a promise of better things to come. Frei senses something in the air for the squad.
“Wednesday was really good for us,” he said. “We got the win which gave us the confidence, but also we knew there was a positive vibe with the two new guys coming in. That gave us some confidence, so going down a goal today, that really didn’t hurt us too much.”
Toronto didn't wilt Saturday, even when breaks didn't go their way. They seemed to have an equalizer in the 41st minute when Javier Martina’s long shot rolled toward the empty Vancouver goal, but was hooked away by Jay DeMerit. The ball may have been over the line, but play went on. At that moment, even Toronto’s coaches and players say they began to think of all the things that have gone wrong this season.
“There are times in games when you do feel like that, like when it was rolling across the line then saved,” said defender Richard Eckersley, “but you just have to keep going, keep going at it. We did and we got our break and capitalized and got the result.”
TFC have away games coming up in New York and in Houston in the next week and Eckersley feels Saturday’s win will help the team’s confidence more, as will the chance later this month to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League group stage with a two-leg tie against Real Estelí of Nicaragua.
“It’s massive just to get any wins, no matter what cup it’s in,” the Englishman said. “It brings the lads together; you could see everyone on the pitch, we’re all best mates, and we need that because we have two tough games next week that we need to get some points on.”