Toronto FC wrapped up their four-game away trip with a 4-1 loss to Eastern Conference leaders Sporting KC on Saturday, and while the scoreline suggests a one-sided affair, TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen says it was anything but.
Speaking to MLSsoccer.com after the match, Nelsen said this loss isn’t necessarily a cause for panic. In particular, he pointed to the number of chances from open play his side managed to create while noting that his team was also playing with a depleted back line.
“Look, we’ve said from the start, it’s going to be a roller-coaster season,” Nelsen said. “You don’t automatically turn yourself into something; it’s taken Kansas City and Real Salt Lake way longer than it took us. We are who we are and we’ll keep working to get better.
“We have to deal with these adversities,” he continued. “It’s good to deal with these experiences, these hardships of football when things aren’t really going your way.”
Things certainly didn’t start off well for Toronto FC as the Reds conceded two penalties before Gilberto pulled Toronto back to within one before halftime.
The makeshift back line was under pressure from all sides, particularly on the right where Jackson, an attack-minded winger by nature, was slotted in at right fullback.
“I had no fullbacks,” Nelsen said, when asked what prompted Jackson’s move to defence. “Mark Bloom’s injured, Warren Creavalle’s injured and even if Nick Hagglund could go out there, Steven Caldwell’s injured. We’re down to bare numbers. Jackson had to do a job down there, like he has all season for us, and I thought he did really well. He did very admirably in how he performed and tried his best.”
Toronto did have Bradley Orr, a natural right fullback, on the bench. But Nelsen revealed that Orr, too, was nursing an injury and would be getting a scan shortly, furthering his squad's woes in defensive depth.
Nelsen also said that Bloom and Caldwell weren’t 100 percent ready to return against the Chicago Fire, either.
Might this injury outbreak prompt his side to look for emergency reinforcements?
“Well, yeah, we’re obviously always looking for it,” Nelsen explained. “But the guys will be back soon and if you go and panic and bring somebody in, then, all of a sudden, everybody becomes healthy, and [the squad] gets out of balance.”
While TFC continue to deal with this injury bug, Bright Dike finally returned to the playing field after being sidelined with an Achilles tear back in February. He made short work in getting back to ruffling the back of the net, too.
Well, sort of. The Nigerian forward did crack a shot towards goal, but sent his shoe flying into the back of the net instead of the ball.
“It was good for Bright to get on the scoresheet and it was nice for the referee in Kansas City to play on as they saw his boot go into the back of the net,” Nelsen joked. “That sort of summed up our night, to tell you the truth.”