TORONTO – Currently sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 13 points after his first half-season as an MLS head coach, Ryan Nelsen stills sees a first-ever postseason appearance for Toronto FC as a distinct possibility.
“Of course,” Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com when asked if the playoffs are still attainable. “As I have said to the players, we have to go in and win every game.”
While TFC would likely need to put together a stunning run of form in the second half of the season in order to leapfrog the teams above them in the standings for a playoff spot, Nelsen stated that he is confident in his club’s chances for a number of reasons.
“We always look to win and the attitude of the players has been fantastic,” Nelsen said. “The fans can’t argue with the attitude of the players or the performances of the players. It’s obviously the results that haven’t been good enough.”
“As I’ve said previously, no team has turned us over this whole season,” Nelsen continued. “We’re just a few little things away from looking like a winning MLS squad. We’ll only get better this summer.”
To a certain degree, Nelsen’s confidence is backed up by the numbers, with Toronto having lost by more than a single goal only one time this year in league play.
Furthermore, the TFC manager has not been shy in recent weeks in stating that the club plans to add a number of quality players during the summer transfer window, with the hope that the new acquisitions will both get his squad over the hump in the short term and significantly strengthen his side over the long term.
“The foundation of the team is getting stronger and stronger,” Nelsen said. “Obviously the results have not been backed up by the performances. We could have had four or five more wins if we had certain personnel at the start of the year.
“But we are starting to take a bit of shape,” he added. “It was very hard when we took over. We had no salary cap room and players that weren’t really MLS tested or proven. We’re starting to get a shape to our squad now and hopefully we can complement it with a few new players. Then we’ll be starting to look like a proper MLS team.”
Steve Bottjer covers Toronto FC for MLSsoccer.com.