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TFC rue mistakes on crucial set-piece goal in Houston loss

TORONTO – It’s not that Toronto FC were unaware of the presence of Houston’s Brad Davis on set pieces.

Paul Mariner, the Reds’ head coach, has talked about Davis’ ability each time the teams have played this season, including the 3-3 draw on June 20 in their first meeting.

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But in the final minute of a lackluster first half on Saturday, with Mariner admitting he would have been happy to reach the intermission with the 0-0 scoreline intact, Davis struck again with his lethal left foot.

With time running down, he lofted a corner kick into the box that found the heads of two unmarked Dynamo players, first Bobby Boswell who sent the ball over to Calen Carr who, in turn, headed the ball into the bottom right corner.

It was the turning point and the only goal the Dynamo — who were superior in just about every area on the night — needed to beat the Reds 2-0 and end their winning streak at three.

“It’s the flick-on, it’s dangerous,” defender Richard Eckersley told MLSsoccer.com. “You’ve got to expect that. If you don’t expect it, it’s going [to be dangerous] because the winger Carr is going to be poaching at the back post. Everyone has got to switch on, and we weren’t doing that. To concede just before half time, it was damaging and it cost us big time.”

Eckersley, who is a natural right back, has been filling in at center back and played a resolute game on Saturday. On plays like the corner that resulted in Carr’s goal, he says it is a matter of each player staying with his man.

“You’ve got to stay with your runners, you’ve got to be on your runner” he said. “Even if you don’t win the header you need to know [where he is]. It was damaging today, just 30 seconds before halftime. We know Houston are a good side especially on set pieces. Besides that they didn’t  break us down. It’s just that the set pieces were a problem for us today.”

But in recent games Toronto have shown improvement in that area.

“Exactly, but we need to perform week in and week out,” Eckersley continued. “We can’t perform in like three games and then just have two games off. We need to perform constantly.”