TORONTO – With Toronto FC not having won a match on their regular home ground of BMO Field in more than a year, the entire squad is feeling the pressure ahead of their fixture against the Columbus Crew on Saturday (2 pm ET, MLSsoccer.com Free Stream of the Week).
As one of the few MLS veterans on Toronto’s roster, winger Bobby Convey admitted on Friday that the winless streak at BMO, recent struggles with respect to putting the ball in the opposition net and injuries to veteran strikers Robert Earnshaw and Danny Koevermans are all variables that have been giving the team the feeling that home field advantage is feeling like anything but these days.
“I think with us not winning at home in so long, there is a lot of nervous energy just in the stadium in general,” Convey told MLSsoccer.com. “I think everybody is feeling it. The fans really want a win.”
“If we can just start something where we can win a couple in a row and everybody sees the positives from that, then that nervous energy can be relieved and we won’t be so nervous about the fact that we haven’t been scoring that much,” Convey added.
The Reds have not scored in their last three games and will again have to find a way to overcome key absences up top on Saturday. Earnshaw, the team’s leading scorer, is out with a hamstring injury and Koevermans is also out injured.
According to Convey, Toronto can’t make any excuses and must simply find a way to engineer a much needed victory.
“We just need to win games,” Convey said. “There is no way around it. We have to work harder and have to score more goals. I don’t think it is that we aren’t a good team. It is just that we haven’t scored goals. If you can’t score goals, you can’t win.”
Toronto’s recent struggles have also been exacerbated by recent turnover on the team’s roster, with a number of players leaving the club in recent weeks and rumors about possible new acquisitions popping up daily.
“It definitely is a distraction,” Convey said. “But we are professionals and this is what we get paid to do. You can’t say, ‘When this guy comes in, we’ll win.’ You just have to play with who you have.”
With a 2-10-8 record heading into Saturday’s fixture, Toronto are looking very much like a longshot to claim their first-ever playoff berth.
In Convey’s estimation, TFC supporters will ultimately be sated in that regard, even if it doesn’t happen until next season.
“This year is obviously a reconstruction year," Convey said. "We had to clear some cap space and in MLS it is very hard bringing in guys midseason and on lower money than they can make in Europe. I don’t envy [head coach] Ryan [Nelsen] at all and I wouldn’t want to be in his position. I try to support him as much as I can and play as hard as I can."
While it could be some time before Nelsen has his ideal roster in place, Convey believes it is still incumbent upon the Toronto players to give TFC supporters something to cheer about this year.
“This is place is the best place in MLS,” Convey stated. “The owners are behind the team and the facilities are ridiculous. We have 20,000 fans that keep coming out even though we haven’t won all year. It is extremely impressive and we just have to pay back the fans for the support.”