Darren O'Dea debuts for Toronto FC
Courtesy of Toronto FC

O'Dea vents frustration with "mentally weak" Toronto FC

TORONTO – Darren O’Dea summed up Toronto FC precisely, witholding nothing after last Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union when he called them  “the nearly team,” and characterized the Reds as "mentally weak."

Philadelphia netted an equalizer in the 85th minute, depriving Toronto of a morale-boosting three points.

“You don’t get sometimes what you deserve in life, you need to take it,” the Irish international center back said. “And we roll over when we need to stand up most.”

The 25-year-old was signed in early August to provide leadership on the backline, and in the six league games in which he has played the Reds have two draws and four losses, plus their 3-1 home loss to Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League.

“The ability is there, there’s no question about that,” the Irish international center back said. “The team’s mentally weak; tough times, we don’t hold up.”

Toronto have allowed 12 goals in the final 15 minutes of games in MLS play this season. They also have allowed five more goals in the final 15 minutes of games in CCL and Amway Canadian Championship play.

“It doesn’t matter how well you play for 89 minutes, it’s the whole game that matters,” O’Dea said. “We concede late goals. Since I’ve been here it’s been I think maybe four or five goals between the 80th minute and the 90th minute. You can’t do that in football.

"It’s not ability, you can see it in training, the ability is there.  It’s when the going gets tough, we’re not mentally strong enough.”

The Reds have not won in the league since July 18 and are 0-6-3 during that span, and conceded two goals in the final minutes of the game in the Aug. 28 loss to Santos Laguna.

Their only victory in the two-month span was Aug. 1, a 5-1 romp over CD Águila of  El Salvador in CCL group-stage play.

“I’ve never been involved in anything like this,” O’Dea said. “But if we weren’t good enough, you could nearly accept it. It’s there every game, you can see where we’re nearly there, we’re nearly there, the nearly team.”

Toronto lamented missed chances that could have provided a bigger lead on Saturday but O’Dea said one goal should have been enough.

“In football, a lot of the times you should only need to score one,” he said. “[Saturday] we should have only needed to score one. It’s not one player, it’s not two players, it’s the whole squad. When it matters most we’re just not strong enough.”

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