TORONTO – There's no doubt that, after opening their season with six losses, Toronto FC are in a tough situation. And forward Ryan Johnson feels it is time for the Reds to show some mettle.
“You’ve just got to just man up and be tough and I don’t think we’ve been tough enough in some situations,” the Jamaican international told reporters at BMO Field on Thursday. “We need to take more accountability on ourselves.”
Toronto FC (0-6-0) will try to avoid matching a league record for futility when they play Real Salt Lake (5-3-1) at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online). Kansas City lost the first seven games of the 1999 season, the most losses to open a season in league history.
“It weighs on the mind,” Johnson said. “I think about it every day. Like, at some point it just pops into my mind. It weighs on you a lot. To get this off our backs would be a huge relief for me personally so hopefully we can do that. The longer it goes on the worse it gets, that’s how I feel about it.”
Johnson went on to explain that the solution must come from the players and how they perform on the pitch.
“We have to take more accountability on what we do on the field," he said. "And we can’t point the fingers to the coaches or to whoever else. We have to look at ourselves first.”
Toronto will have the more rested squad. RSL had a midweek 1-1 draw at FC Dallas while Toronto have not played since losing 3-2 to Chicago last Saturday at BMO Field.
That said, the Reds will again be without forwards Danny Koevermans (groin) and Nick Soolsma (hamstring), while midfielder Luis Silva (flu) did not make the trip either.
As difficult as it will be to take points or a point in Utah, TFC desperately want to shake the burden of a damaging start.
“[It's] massively [important],” defender Richard Eckersley said. “We think about it all week. We just want to get to the next game and try to change it. It’s grinding on the players a little bit because we know we’re better than 0-6. We’ve got the players. I believe in this team and we’ve just go to show it.”
The Reds know it won’t be easy. Johnson said he is preparing for a difficult game against a defense marshaled by Nat Borchers and Jámison Olave.
“It’s tough,” Johnson said. “I’ve been battling those guys for years. It’s never easy. Never.”