HARRISON, N.J.—It might be easy to point fingers at the defense after suffering a lopsided loss, but Toronto FC know their attack needs to improve just as much as the back line.


Maybe even more so.


Toronto FC were on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat vs. the New York Red Bulls in an Eastern Conference affair at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. The Canadian club was outdone by a record Bradley Wright-Phillips hat-trick – he converted three scores in just 27 minutes – and the Reds are now winless through four games; they sit sixth in the conference.


There were glaring defensive issues for Toronto in the match, but their attack also had its troubles. The front six was unable to find any semblance of a rhythm with the ball in the first half, committed a number of turnovers, and failed to find the back of the net despite having a man advantage for more than a half.


“We've got to be able to relieve our defensive repetitions by keeping the ball a little bit, by not making errors in possession and turning over the ball on our half of the field,” said Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney. “We've got to be better with the ball. Part of it is also that we've got to be able to score goals because that puts a lot of pressure on the defenders if we're not putting the ball in the back of the net.”


Toronto have not been doing a lot of that in recent weeks: Having scored just one goal in their last three matches, they now face the potential prospects of having to make due without their dynamic playmaker.


Sebastian Giovinco left Saturday’s match against the Red Bulls in the 22nd minute because of an adductor injury. Vanney said afterwards that the knock did not look like “anything significant”, but that more would be learned by Sunday.


While Giovinco might not miss much time, Toronto FC know they still need to figure out how to create goals without him. The Italian has scored or assisted on all but one of their 14 tallies this year, and other players will likely have to step up in the final third if Vanney’s side is to live up to its lofty expectations.


“We need to get more dangerous around the box, we need guys to be hungrier to score goals,” Toronto FC midfielder Will Johnson told MLSsoccer.com. “At the end of the day, it was still 45 minutes up a man where we didn’t score. For me, it’s disappointing.


“We competed, we tried hard, but the quality in the final third has to get better, otherwise we’re going to be on the end of a lot of bad results”.


One positive is that Toronto did a better job of keeping possession and creating chances in the second half. They took advantage of the space provided by the loss of ejected Red Bulls midfielder Gonzalo Veron, and finished with seven shots on goal compared to New York’s four. Toronto even drew a penalty kick that was converted by Johnson before encroachment was called and the retake saved.


Still, quality in the attack was lacking.


“We have some younger players who are showing potential,” Vanney said. “But showing potential and scoring in Major League Soccer doesn't necessarily happen overnight.”