Toronto FC kicked off the first of a four-game road trip in a rough fashion, conceding three times to D.C. United at RFK Stadium and picking up a second consecutive loss in league play after a 3-0 result on Wednesday.
It was those three conceded goals that left TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen and his side wanting for more against D.C. in a game that had plenty of chances for the away side, but no goals to speak of. But it was the defending that escalated the poor showing overall on the night.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com over the phone after the match. “I think, in both boxes, we weren’t good enough. We had many opportunities to score and we didn’t, and the little opportunities they had, we gifted them the goals. It was just absolutely not good enough; I don’t care what level you play at, you can’t defend like that and you can’t miss those opportunities.”
It was the TFC back line that seemed to suffer the most against D.C. United, with Nick Hagglund and Bradley Orr combining in the middle alongside Justin Morrow and newcomer Warren Creavalle out wide. The makeshift back four struggled to contain Eddie Johnson in the first half and Hagglund conceded the third goal with an own-goal header to wrap up the proceedings.
Nelsen says that while he’ll have to take a look at his options for the Montreal game, the task isn’t made easier with the number of key starters missing for this match.
“It’s a bit difficult when you lose Steven Caldwell, our captain and Mark Bloom, arguably the most consistent player we’ve had all season, and Doneil Henry, who has been in superb form,” Nelsen said. “But, in saying that, you’ve got to use your squad and they’ve got to take their chances.”
It was also Creavalle’s first game with TFC after his trade from Houston, and Nelsen says he did well under the circumstances.
But Toronto FC didn’t just falter on the defensive end, the team created goal-scoring opportunities in abundance, recording seven shots on goal in the first half, but failed to find the finishing touch needed to give them an equalizer – or an early lead.
When asked if there was a way to address the lack of finishing in the match, Nelsen said that if one could figure that out, they’d be a “very wealthy man.” He also added that Gilberto, who came off the bench in the 73rd minute, could see a start against the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
“Montreal has become a must-win game for us now,” Nelsen added.