TORONTO — It certainly looks like Toronto FC have genuinely turned a corner.
In previous seasons, when the Reds went down by two goals early, it was pretty much game over and the BMO Field faithful unfortunately went home feeling unsatisfied.
That wasn’t the case on Saturday however, as TFC fought back from a two-goal deficit to score four unanswered goals against the Houston Dynamo.
While many would point to striker Jermain Defoe, who was key in all four of TFC’s goals, as the clear difference maker, both the English striker and TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen pointed to the growing confidence and belief among the entire Reds squad as the key reason for the victory.
“We came out very slow and we put ourselves under a mountain to climb,” Nelsen told reporters after the match. “Then it becomes a balance of character, spirit and a belief that you are going to get back into the game. You can’t go silly because when you are down 2-0, when you try and go for one goal you can often end up conceding and then the game is completely over.”
“You have to be smart about it and you can’t panic,” Nelsen added. “And the boys had a bit of belief that if they stuck to it and played their game plan, then the chances would come. And they did and they were taken.”
Defoe, who scored both the game winner and an insurance goal against the Dynamo, echoed his gaffer’s analysis and also pointed to the total team performance as the reason TFC were able to pull out a much needed three points at home after falling behind early.
“Everyone played well and everyone worked hard for each other,” Defoe said. “We have great team spirit. There are a lot of games to be played in a short period of time and everyone is working hard.”
In addition to the psychological aspects of the game, Defoe pointed to the first goal that Toronto was able to pull back as the key one in the comeback.
“Sometimes in games when you concede an early goal or two, there is still a long way to go and you just have to keep cool and just try and get the first goal back before half-time,” Defoe explained. “And we managed to do that. Then you can really kick on and try to get the second goal. I think it was important to score in the first half because if you go into the break down 2-0, it is difficult and the other team gets confident.”
“Then when it was 2-2 they came at us and tried to win the game and I think that suited us because we then hit them on the counter attack.”
Of course, a little bit of luck going a team’s way certainly never hurts. In that vein, Defoe was also quick to express his delight at the errant back pass from Houston that ultimately allowed the Englishman to seal the victory.
“It was like Christmas, I couldn’t believe it,” Defoe added. “I was so happy. I was surprised because I don’t think the goalkeeper called for it, but I was one on one with the keeper and I just thought this is when you have to do your stuff. He actually saved it and then it came back and I had a bit of luck to get the rebound.”