Toronto FC head coach and technical director Aron Winter saw the indications early that his players “weren’t fresh.”
“When the game started and also in the warm-up we saw it a little bit,” Winter said. “We were a little bit flat today.”
It showed in their 3-0 loss to Chivas USA on Saturday, a result that dented Toronto’s already faint playoff hopes.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
The first of two goals in the game by Juan Pablo Angel wasn’t long in coming, as the veteran striker breeched the TFC net in the 12th minute.
“We didn’t start well but the goal that they scored was our fault,” Winter said. “We had the ball, we ended up losing the ball. We were not sharp enough and it makes it 1-0. And after that it was very difficult to come back in the game.”
It was a turning point, and one that undid much of the good work TFC had done over the past several weeks.
“All of a sudden they scored and all of a sudden our momentum went down and it was like ‘What happened?’” midfielder Eric Avila said. “We usually don’t give up goals that early. We were very surprised. We need to keep focused from the start.”
What was not surprising is that the goal came from Angel.
“He is a great forward,” Avila said. “Very dangerous in the box. If we give him time like that, that`s what happens.”
One problem Toronto had, Avila said, was not enough communication.
“Our backs and our midfield, we would do fine dropping back, but when we attacked our defense wouldn’t push up to help the midfield,” he said. “There was just a complete gap in between. So there was more of a lack of communication there where we should have just pushed up, all of us. It was just a mixture of different things where it didn`t go well with us.”
Toronto can lament a couple of chances that did not result in goals in the second half when the score was still 1-0. Richard Eckersley hit the bar from 30 yards and striker Danny Koevermans couldn’t finish his one good chance of the game.
“That`s how it is sometimes,” Avila said. “If those had gone in, the game would have been different, more life would have been put into us and the game wouldn`t have been what it was.
“Ì think it was a learning experience for us, we were going on a good run but every game we need to be focused and ready to go. It doesn`t come easily.”
It was Toronto’s second league loss in the past eight games against three wins and three ties.
“The main thing is that we understand our mistakes,” Avila said. “If we didn’t understand, it would be more of a problem. It was a bad performance on our part and we understand what went wrong and we’ve just got to fix it.”