TORONTO – After a league-record worst 0-8-0 start a season, Toronto FC sought answers in a team meeting on Monday that included the coaching staff.
“It was a free-for-all meeting,” midfielder Eric Avila told reporters on Tuesday. “It was what we felt and what we can improve on. It was a positive meeting.”
They’ll see whether a positive meeting can lead into a positive result on Wednesday at BMO Field, when TFC host Montreal in the second leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal (8 pm ET, Sportsnet Ontario, TVA Sport). Toronto played a negative, defensive game last Wednesday in Montreal to gain a 0-0 draw.
And ugly as it was, it was a most welcome shutout.
“We really talked about what we’re trying to do going forward and what we’re trying to build here,” Avila said after Tuesday’s training at BMO Field. “I think everyone came on the same page. It’s another positive way of moving forward. Everyone’s happy, everyone’s smiling. That’s what we need right now.”
Bringing the coaching staff in for the meeting was a change of pace for TFC, who regularly have players-only meetings. The air certainly needed clearing after last Saturday’s painful 2-0 loss to D.C. United.
“It’s a serious matter, obviously,” Avila said. “We had meetings before but [Monday], we sat down and discussed what we are trying to do. And I think everyone feels good.
“Just airing things out and discussing things about situations and what we need to work on and what needs to happen and what needs to get done on the field, because it’s unacceptable when you’re 0-8 and things need to change.”
After the United loss, an obviously frustrated forward Ryan Johnson was critical of the defensive approach Toronto took into the game. He also disagreed with the negative approach taken in the first leg of the ACC series against the Impact.
Johnson did not speak to the media on Tuesday, but head coach and technical director Aron Winter said he has talked to the Jamaican international.
“When you’ve got eight games played and you’ve to zero points, then you’re emotional, everybody” Winter said. “It’s normal. But about the tactics and those things, he’s not right.”
When asked if he felt that his job was on line in Wednesday’s game, Winter gave a succinct “No” for his reply.
He said he was still confident that ownership will remain patient with him, even with a loss on Wednesday.
“But I don’t think we’ll lose tomorrow,” he added.
The Impact beat the Reds 2-1 in Montreal on April 7 in a league match and are most recently coming off a 2-0 road victory over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
Winter said that it is possible forward that Nick Soolsma (hamstring) might be available for Wednesday’s game. But striker Danny Koevermans (groin) trained alone and is not likely to be on the team.
The Reds were still waiting for a medical report on midfielder Torsten Frings, who injured his shoulder during the second half of Saturday’s game. He did not train Tuesday.