TORONTO – The confidence is growing within Toronto FC under manager Paul Mariner, and it's evident in the results.
The team that lost their first nine games to open the season, the worst start to a season in league history, has not lost in the past four games (1-0-3) as TFC get set for a match against FC Dallas on Wednesday (9 pm ET, TSN in Canada/MLS LIVE).
WATCH: Paul Mariner previews FC Dallas
“We had very bad confidence after we lost so many games and [Mariner] tried to get us some confidence,” team captain Torsten Frings said after last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls. “I think some players needed to have a feeling that the coach stands behind you, and now you can see it’s happened and we’ve played better and better and I hope we can keep going this way.”
Since Mariner took over on June 7, the injection of confidence has been most noticeable in TFC's young backline, which has made progress after coming under fire.
“We've been solid,” central defender Logan Emory said. “We're getting up the field together and back to together. We’re keeping a solid line, we're shifting, we're talking and in the last [two games including a 3-0 win at Montreal on June 17] we've been pretty solid for the most part."
“I don’t think Milos [Kocic] had a save to make,” veteran midfielder Terry Dunfield said after Saturday's match. “That’s a huge pat on the back to the back four. Also, you can see how hard Ryan [Johnson] and Danny [Koevermans] work up front – I think in the 85th minute, Danny was tracking back like he was 21 – so you know that only spurs the other players on as well.”
The players believe that the improved play is the direct product of a locker room that is brimming with positive vibes.
“I think in general the difference is just energy and confidence," Emory said. "The locker room is just so confident. Everybody believes in everybody. There's so much energy that if you make a mistake you just get on with it and keep playing. It’s the confidence [Mariner] instils in everybody. It’s been pretty amazing so far.”
Said Dunfield: “There is a bond forming. And every player is fighting for their teammate and their manager.”