Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen deflects critics of Reds' late-game woes
TORONTO — For those who have followed Toronto FC over the past 12 months, the team’s 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy on Saturday had to seem like another disappointing bit of déjà vu.
A stoppage-time goal by LA striker Jose Villarreal prevented Toronto from earning all three points in their first match of 2013 at BMO Field, and also brought back painful memories of a disappointing run of games last season in which the Reds conceded late goals with stunning regularity.
But new TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen — who had nothing to do with the club’s late-game struggles last year — chose to focus on the positives even after the Reds coughed up a 2-1 lead in the waning minutes.
"Is it déjà vu when you draw with the MLS Champs? I don't even think about last year," Nelsen said. "Late goals happen. They throw numbers in the box and balls go in. It's not an indictment of this team. Nobody is blaming anybody, definitely not me. When you play against really good teams, sometimes that is what is going to happen."
Toronto are now 1-2-1 on the season against one of the toughest slate of early-season opponents in the league, including matches against Vancouver, Sporting Kansas City, Montreal and LA.
“We knew the first four games were going to be extremely difficult games,” Nelsen said. “The guys have shown that they have taken steps forward from the first game against Vancouver to now. I have to look at the bigger picture, and the big picture for me is extremely positive."
The Reds scored multiple goals for the second time this season thanks to veteran Robert Earnshaw and youngster Jonathan Osorio, and became the first team to score more than one goal against the Galaxy since the second leg of the Western Conference final against Seattle last year. That run — which includes two games in the CONCACAF Champions League earlier this spring - was snapped at six games.
"We scored two goals against a team that hadn't conceded two goals since when? Not this season. We still scored two goals where other teams haven't," Nelsen stated. "Yes, we are all disappointed that we didn't walk away with three points. But we take the point and we move on. The big picture is that the MLS Champions came here and we did extremely well.”