Head coach Paul Mariner had Toronto FC play what he called “no-frills football” and despite Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Kansas City, he felt they had enough chances to have come away with something.
The barebones approach was adopted out of necessity, because injuries and illness resulted in a lineup lacking experience and playing time together.
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“Tonight’s was a good one. We condensed the field, we let them have it in their half of the field, we tracked our runners and if in doubt, we got it out and for the most part we did … And we thought with Ryan Johnson and Quincy Amarikwa up front, we could hit them on the break and for the most part we did. It was going to plan. It’s just one of those things, I feel so sorry for the players.”
Although Sporting KC dominated possession, Johnson gave Toronto a first-half lead after being sent in on a long diagonal pass from Richard Eckersley. Johnson hit the post in the second half and the hosts needed a bizarre bouncing volley by Paulo Nagamura to draw level, then scored a late winner on a goal that netminder Freddy Hall would expect to save most of the time.
As a result, Toronto fell short in their effort to overcome an absentee list that included forward Eric Hassli, out with a rib injury, midfielder Torsten Frings, who was preparing to travel to Germany for a second opinion on a hip injury, and defender Ashtone Morgan, who has the flu.
“I felt we set up really well against a very good Kansas team,” Mariner said. “We had a very inexperienced team out. We tried to hit them on the break, which we did. Ryan Johnson hits the post and if it goes in it might be a different game. And then Luis Silva had a couple of great opportunities later on.
“It just wasn’t to be. We put in another great shift and I firmly believe we’re not very far away from turning the corner.”
No frills, no Frings, no points.