Over Toronto FC’s short history, the road has not been kind. The club has just nine wins all-time away from the friendly and rowdy confides of BMO Field.
It was a case of same old, same old on Wednesday night as the Reds fell 1-0 to FC Dallas in Texas. Although the game was turned on a controversial penalty call late in the first half, the players aren’t willing to accept that as an excuse.
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“We weren’t good enough,” was Jacob Peterson’s blunt assessment of the game.
Julian de Guzman went a step further. According to the Designated Player, the club’s whole season depends on the Reds finding a way to overcome their road woes.
“It’s a mental game — we have to find a way to get results away from home if we are to make the playoffs,” de Guzman told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s the whole transition from playing at home in front of the fans and playing away without that atmosphere. It’s easy to get excited to play at home — the crowd pumps you up, makes you excited. The players dream of playing in that environment.”
De Guzman, who has played away at some of the world’s great stadiums, including the Nou Camp in Barcelona and the Bernabéu in Madrid, says he is trying to help his teammates understand what it takes to win away from home.
“It starts on the plane,” he said. “It’s about the rest you get, the food you eat the day before. Our players, especially the younger guys, need to learn how to take care of themselves and deal with the challenges.”
The challenges Saturday proved too difficult to overcome. Still, de Guzman says he saw progress.
“I thought we came out fairly well, creating a few chances in the first half,” he said. “But, the penalty took the game away from us a bit. We need to be better in games like this if we are going to challenge for a playoff spot.”
Despite just having one road draw on the year thus far, de Guzman remains positive about the direction of the club.
“Sitting out [with injury earlier this year] and watching training I was struck with how this was the first time I felt like I was at a professional football club,” he said. “The things Aron [Winter] and [assistant coach] Bob [de Klerk] have brought it to make this a professional environment will really make a change. I’m honored to be a part of the changes."