TORONTO – Before last Saturday's match against the San Jose Earthquakes at BMO Field, Toronto FC goalkeeper Milos Kocic said that the Reds would have to keep the visitors under pressure from the first minute in order to walk away with the desired result.
It didn’t happen that way. Not even close, in fact. Instead, San Jose’s early pressure led to a ninth-minute goal from Chris Wondolowski, and the Quakes never looked back en route to a 3-0 triumph to spoil Toronto’s MLS home opener.
WATCH: SJ ruins TFC home opener
“It felt like we played on an away field, even though we played at home,” Kocic told reporters after the game. “That’s how I felt. I don’t understand why we put ourselves under pressure with no reason. If you have wind against you in the first half, then try to put them under pressure, not us.”
San Jose added a second in the 56th minute via the left foot of midfielder Shea Salinas. A little more than 10 minutes later, Wondolowski tucked away his second goal of the night to finish off the rout.
“The way we began the game, it was not good,” head coach and technical director Aron Winter said. “It was like we didn’t want to play. But after that, we got in the game. And then, again, you’re making terrible mistakes to bring the opponent and make them stronger, then you lose in the moment.”
TFC began their season with an encouraging 4-3 aggregate victory in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series against the LA Galaxy, but their early success hasn't carried over to their league responsibilities. In their first two MLS games in 2012, the Reds have been outscored 6-1.
Along the way, they also lost their most influential player, midfielder Torsten Frings, for four to six weeks with a strained hamstring sustained in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, meanwhile, will miss eight to 10 weeks with a broken fibula sustained in training last Friday.
“It’s not a problem about the confidence,” Winter said. “I think more the way how we started. We’re going to think about it. We were not happy in the locker room after the game.”
Any time for reflection, however, will be cut short by Wednesday’s CCL semifinal first leg against Santos Laguna at BMO Field. Los Guerreros enter the semifinals following a 7-3 aggregate victory against the Sounders in their own quarterfinal tie, which included a 6-1 thrashing in Torreón to kill off Seattle's dreams of advancing.
Needless to say, the beleaguered TFC defense has their work cut out for them.
“There are certain things we have to be smarter about.” Kocic said. “It’s easy to say good performance or bad performance; let’s take a look at the whole game and try to see what’s wrong, let’s work on it. But I don’t want to put my head down now. There’s a lot of big games coming up. Just keep pushing forward.”