Defensive lapses again haunt Toronto in Mariner debut

There is one thing that has not changed for Toronto FC as they venture back into league competition: If their defense does not get better, neither will they.

In their first game under new head coach Paul Mariner (above) and after a three-week break, TFC allowed Sporting Kansas City too many easy chances in a 2-0 loss at Livestrong Sporting Park on Saturday. New regime, same old problem.

“I thought we did poorly on holding our men, and individual mistakes killed us in that game,” defender Doneil Henry told the media after the game.

HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 2, TOR 0

Toronto FC will try to get it right on Wednesday when they play the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online) as they complete their two-game road swing.

Terry Dunfield agreed with Henry’s assessment and even took it a step further.

“I don’t think we did ourselves any favors in the goals we conceded,” the midfielder said. “The gameplan was to go out there and give them nothing. We let them get crosses in the box too early. Runners weren’t tracked. In the end we were punished.”

The Reds will take some heart from the fact that they improved in the second half and had chances to score.

“A positive we take from it is that we opened them up four or five times, hit the post three times,” Dunfield said. “It’s something to build on but it’s suicide defending like that. To concede on a set piece and a cross that probably should have been stopped, that hurts.”

Toronto drop to 1-10-0 in the league and have scored eight goals while conceding 23. Their goal differential of minus-15 is the worst in MLS.

“We've only had a week to work with Paul,” said midfielder Eric Avila, who had a shot in the first half on Saturday which hit one post and then the other but stayed out. “He's been in this league. He knows what he’s doing. I think we have great guys here. We just need to put the pieces of the puzzle together.”

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