TORONTO — Change is in the wind again at Toronto FC.
That's the message from the man in charge after the Reds' recent run of matches in which they've consistently made defensive errors late in matches that have led to dropped points. The lineup — and the team's backline in particular — will likely look quite different in the coming weeks and months.
"Our inability to defend the box late in games has killed us," Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne told reporters on Monday. "We really should be in the top four places in the East based on how we have played.
"It is very disheartening to play long stretches of games and be right in the matches or as the better and more dangerous team in many instances and then surrender plays late. Ryan [Nelsen, head coach] has tried everything to prepare the group of players that we have to deal with those situations and it just hasn't improved. So the decision was made to try to bring in some reinforcements."
With the recent announcements that the team has acquired three new International players — forward Jeremy Brockie and defenders Steven Caldwell and Tal Ben Haim — on loan, the Toronto front office now has to do some juggling in order to become roster-compliant, in addition to making any changes to the starting XI.
"The roster decisions will be made this week," Payne said. "We have some flexibility and have always maintained some flexibility in our roster. We certainly have the opportunity to make trades and that may occur in a couple of instances. I would think that our players would have to be pretty naïve not to think that there are going to be some changes coming, when you look at this last stretch of games and the number of points that we have left on the table."
While Brockie and Caldwell are expected to be available for selection when Toronto face off against the Columbus Crew on Saturday, the situation surrounding Ben Haim is not quite as concrete. The club does not have a deal signed with the Israeli international yet, Payne revealed, and it's possible he may never suit up for Toronto.
"We rushed that deal to beat the transfer deadline and we still have work to do to get a contract agreed for the future," Payne said of the Queens Park Rangers loanee. "It is possible that he might not end up playing for us. We hope that he will and he wants to play to here. He likes the community. We like him a lot, but we may not be able to get something done."
Toronto FC are currently in a situation in which the club is aiming to bring in two different types of players, Payne added: short-term acquisitions that can ease some of the structural deficiencies that are currently plaguing the squad, and long-term additions that are expected to make up a new competitive core for the next five or six years.
"In this instance, these are band-aids that are probably for a year or a year-and-a-half," he said. "We're also not going to panic now and make a bunch of sudden moves to try and get better immediately and throw out the plan of getting better for the long term."