Toronto FC head coach Ryan Nelsen never lost faith in his club during an 11-game winless streak that stretched from the middle of March to the beginning of June. Now it looks like he is being rewarded for his patience and belief.
Now unbeaten in three matches in June, Toronto earned a well-deserved road point via a scoreless draw against the Houston Dynamo at arguably the most unforgiving venue in the league Saturday evening.
“In June, July and August their record is absolutely ridiculous and [Houston] is such a hard place to play at this time of year,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. “All 14 of our players had to stand up and show a lot of mental strength and character. Obviously, physically they had to absorb pretty hostile conditions and they all did that. I am extremely proud of them.”
June continues to be a month of firsts for Nelsen and Toronto FC. After earning their first road win of the year against D.C. United last weekend, TFC earned their first clean sheet of the season with the draw against the Dynamo.
According to Nelsen, that clean sheet was not only a long time coming, it was also indicative of his belief that his squad have turned a page with their recent performances.
“I think with our performances over the course of the season we should have had four or five clean sheets by now,” Nelsen said. “I think we have been putting in pretty good defensive performances and nobody has really run over the top of us in any game. However, those performances have to result in points and we have to turn them into product.”
“I think the guys can really grow from this result,” Nelsen added. “They have always had belief, but it is good that their belief and their performances are now turning into points.”
In addition to earning five points in their last three matches, Toronto finally look like a side that has overcome the defensive jitters that often saw them conceding late goals leading to dropped points earlier in the season.
In Nelsen’s estimation, the most important thing that he had to do during that challenging run of fixtures was to stay the course and stick to his overall plan with respect to rebuilding Toronto FC.
“A lot of it was a bit of bad luck and maybe a lack of belief from some players not having been in those types of positions much,” Nelsen said. “I said at the time when it was going on that in a short amount of time I wouldn’t be asked questions [about conceding late goals].”
“There hadn’t been stability here at the whole club. When there are long-term problems, there are no short-term solutions. You have to have a long-term mindset and patience and fortitude. And you have to have belief in what we are doing.”