TORONTO – On Saturday, Toronto FC rolled to a 4-2 victory away to the Columbus Crew, their first-ever win over the Massive Canaries.
Wednesday was a different story. Traveling to Mexico City for a CONCACAF Champions League Group C match against Pumas UNAM, the Reds found themselves on the receiving end of a rout as the Mexican club cruised to a 4-0 result.
It was a dramatic drop-off in performance and, for head coach and technical director Aron Winter, there’s one big reason why: lack of teamwork.
“The difference between last Saturday against Columbus and now is that we did not work and didn’t have the will to win like a team,” Winter said after Wednesday’s game.
“I think the manager summed it up perfectly after the game,” midfielder Terry Dunfield agreed. “He said we played like a bunch of individuals out there and we didn’t work as a team like we did against Columbus on the weekend. And a good team like this Mexican side will pick us apart.”
The travel, the quick turnaround after the game in Columbus and the altitude of Mexico City all could have been factors as well in their flat performance.
“It’s easy to make excuses,” Dunfield said. “At the end of the day it’s a game of football. You’ve got to go out there and win your personal battles and play with that desire to win. That should be a gimme in this game.”
The next step for the Reds falls at BMO Field on Saturday, as TFC host the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids suffered their own setback in CCL play on Tuesday, losing 4-1 at home to Santos Laguna.
If they want to get a similar result, Toronto will have to rediscover their team mentality.
“You look at yourself in the mirror,” defender Ashtone Morgan said. “Reflect on the game [against Pumas], get it behind us and for Saturday’s game come back collectively and get our three points.”