Canadian Championship: Ryan Nelsen hopes lopsided loss can serve as "turning point" in Toronto FC's season
Wednesday evening proved to be the end of an era for Toronto FC.
As winners of the last four Amway Canadian Championship tournaments, the Reds went into the second leg of the their 2013 Voyageurs Cup tie against Montreal with a 2-0 aggregate goal series lead following their victory at home last Wednesday and with bragging rights stemming from the fact that the Impact had never defeated them in the Canadian Cup competition.
Given the Impact’s 6-0 drubbing of Toronto in the second leg, all of that is moot now.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen was pensive after the match and expressed his hope that Toronto’s defeat would mark a turning point for a club that has never qualified for the MLS Cup playoffs in its existence.
“As I just said to the guys, there are certain points in the season that are turning points. Sometimes they can be a win at home and sometimes they can be a heavy loss away,” Nelsen told reporters at his post-match press conference at Saputo Stadium in Montreal. “Nobody would have thought that this loss was coming. We do have a really young team and sometimes these things will happen. It happens to every team.”
While the final 6-0 score would suggest that his team was never in the match, Nelsen lamented the missed chances that opened the door for Montreal to gain momentum and take control of the series.
“We started pretty well. If Earnshaw’s [shot off the post] had gone in, if we had put that goal away, I think the tie would have been ended,” Nelsen explained. “But after that we lost every key play that had to be made and Montreal punished us. On every mistake we made we got punished. When the key plays needed to be made, Montreal made all of them and we were second best.”
Toronto were still only an away goal away from retaking the series lead at halftime, but a number of defensive breakdowns in conjunction with some ruthless finishing on Montreal's part ultimately turned the Reds' evening into a nightmare.
With Toronto missing several starting players due to injury, Nelsen was adamant that his team continued to battle and fight right up until the final whistle.
“I wouldn’t say they gave up, I would say they were inexperienced. They chased things that weren’t there and gambled and lost shape and just got punished,” Nelsen said.
“This is something we will look back at after a certain amount of time -after this club has evolved into a different animal – and we’ll say that this was where it probably started.”