Reinforcements are on the way for Toronto FC. And if TFC fans needed any further evidence of those reinforcements’ necessity, Saturday’s 2-0 loss away to the Houston Dynamo stands as proof.
The result completed a goalless and pointless two-match trip that began with Wednesday’s 5-0 thrashing at the New York Red Bulls.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Houston 2, Toronto 0
“We’ve got a lot of lack of quality,” head coach and technical director Aron Winter said bluntly. “We can play 20 to 25 minutes, maybe a half-game well, but after that we don’t do the things anymore that we expect.”
TFC do not play again until July 20, when FC Dallas visit BMO Field. That game, five days after the opening of the transfer window on July 15, should mark the Major League Soccer debuts of Toronto’s two new Designated Players, forward Danny Koevermans and midfielder Torsten Frings.
“They are two very good players,” Winter said, “but I don’t want to put the pressure on them because you have to do it with the whole team.”
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who was again heroic in defeat for the Reds, making four saves against Houston, agreed with Winter about not depending too much on the new players.
“We have a little break, we need to make sure we practice hard and we still have some additions coming in,” Frei said. “We can’t put everything on their shoulders. But we need to just focus work hard and try to come back better next game.”
The two recent signings should provide skill and leadership in areas that have been lacking, as was too evident in Houston on Saturday.
Even with forward Alan Gordon and midfielder Jacob Peterson back in the lineup on Saturday after being out with injuries, Toronto’s attack flailed for most of the night.
“We didn’t even force [Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall] to make any saves — that’s the problem,” Frei said. “I think we had dangerous opportunities, but they never resulted in a shot on goal, and you’re not going to score any goals that way.”
Added Winter, “I want to have a good team, a team that can win. A team that can do all the simple things on the pitch because we have a lack of quality. Even when you’re rebuilding I want to make the season good.”
As if there aren’t enough injuries at the center back position, defender Richard Eckersley who has moved there from right back to fill the void won’t be available against Dallas next week because of an accumulation of yellow cards, including one on Saturday.
As frustrated as he was with his own team, Winter was upset after Houston’s second goal because he felt the Dynamo should have been called for a foul.
“Those things are frustrations,” Winter said. “I mean, in the beginning when I came here I complained a lot about the referees’ bad decisions. I don’t want to speak about it because the moment when I speak about it, I’m going to be upset because everybody saw it. On the second goal, before they scored, there was a foul. We have to get the free kick, and that moment they scored. That’s why I was upset.”
And so, the process of remaking the side continues. The next step comes with Koevermans and Frings taking the pitch at BMO Field, hopefully on July 20.
“Nobody expects that when those two guys are here that we’re going to win all the games now,” Winter said. “Of course not, because we’re still in the process of rebuilding.”