The performances might be there, but the story of frustration remained the same for hapless Toronto FC, who fell 2-0 to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night at Red Bull Arena to extend their winless streak to seven games.
That was the sentiment expressed by TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen following the match, after seeing his injury-depleted squad go toe-to-toe with the Red Buls only to be undone by a pair of defensive breakdowns.
“It was a couple of soft goals, but the first half performance was extremely good,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “We created a lot of chances and put ourselves in a position to score, but the difference between us and them is obvious with a guy like [Thierry] Henry and his quality up front.
“It was hard situation for the guys – being on the road, playing their third game in a short period of time and with New York desperate for that win to go top of the table,” Nelsen added.
With Toronto's leading scorer Robert Earnshaw not making the trip to New York due to a hamstring injury and Designated Player Danny Koevermans still not match fit, TFC’s depleted forward corps never really tested New York keeper Luis Robles until Bright Dike forced a late save with Toronto already down by two.
However, even with players like Henry and Fabián Espíndola available for the Red Bulls, Nelsen did not feel that the Eastern Conference leaders really imposed themselves on his young team in any discernible fashion.
“I don’t mind conceding soft goals, but I don’t think either goal was earned,” Nelsen said.
Ultimately, in Nelsen’s estimation, the opening goal on a tap-in by Henry was both a deflating blow for a fatigued squad and an occurrence that was completely preventable.
“Everybody says that it is the players that score goals, but it is the space that they run into that creates the goals,” Nelsen explained. “We pride ourselves on nullifying that space or, if there is going to be space, you then put it in places where it doesn’t hurt you. The first goal was a breakdown and that is what is so frustrating because the guys know that they should have done better there.
“We lacked communication [on the goal], but again these kinds of things happen when you are tired,” the first-year coach added said. “It was late in the half and it was probably just a mental error followed by us not cutting off the near post.”