WASHINGTON — Brought up in the academy of the Barcelona club that made tiki-taka football famous, even Toronto FC midfielder Victor Vazquez believes there are times his team would be better served getting wide and crossing.
For example, there was Saturday night’s 1-1 draw against D.C. United, when first-place Toronto failed to find a winner against last-place D.C. despite going a man up in the 44th minute and equalizing in the 52nd.
"We played the same game against Colorado against D.C. today," Vazquez said. "We tried our things. We tried to find the spaces, but when they dropped back, it’s hard for us. It’s not easy."
And he knows more teams may try to copy that approach during the business end of the season as Toronto vies for the Eastern Conference title and Supporters’ Shield.
“We will try to manage it, to be better,” Vazquez said. “I think also with our wingers, they have to be better. They have to dribble a bit more, to take it to the end of the line and to try to cross, because we have Jozy [Altidore], we have many guys that can score, and we will find a way. Because when we have teams [that play us] like that, and we will have it for sure, we have to be better.”
Midfielder Michael Bradley agreed that TFC must be better against teams down in the table.
“We’re at the point where it doesn’t matter whether it’s home or away, we feel like these are games like we should win,” Bradley said. “And when you don’t, there’s frustration for sure.”
D.C.'s posture reinforced Bradley's assertion. Despite entering Week 22 some 14 points out of the playoff places, 10-man United showed little inclination to go for a game-winner after letting in an own-goal equalizer. They mostly played a 4-4-1 after Lloyd Sam’s dismissal, and it often resembled a 5-3-1 on defense.
“I think actually them having a red card probably gave them the opportunity to unapologetically just defend with numbers,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney said. “And they did a great job of that.”
Toronto failed to record a shot on target after Sam’s dismissal, indicative of a night when more went wrong than just tactical approach.
“I think it’s frustration,” Vazquez said. “And it’s a bit of, you don’t find a way, you don’t find space. And then you get frustrated and then finally it happens like that. And then we lose two stupid points like we lose today.”