ORLANDO, Fla. – Even though Toronto FC kept their second clean sheet of the season in Saturday's 2-0 victory over Orlando City SC, head coach Greg Vanney sees plenty of room for defensive improvement.
That's not to say the performance isn't still something to build on, with the Reds keeping the Lions scoreless for the first time this season after having conceded 10 times in their previous four games.
“It definitely needs to be,” Vanney said following the win. “Some of the good defensive stuff comes from the fact that we were just better with the ball and we didn’t put ourselves in too many bad situations, still a few but not too many, which then allowed us to defend with more numbers between the ball and the goal sometimes.
“If you don’t put yourself in crisis moments by losing bad possessions, then we’re actually a good defending team. But I don’t know too many teams that are good defending teams when they’re losing balls between lines.”
Chris Mavinga, who had a crucial block in the 37th minute when he stopped a shot from Robin Jansson, was perhaps most pleased that the performance came in the hostile setting of a steamy afternoon at Orlando City Stadium.
“For the team it’s very good to get the clean sheet because the last four games we gave up too many goals,” Mavinga told MLSsoccer.com. “We were able to play defensively as a team and adapt to the tough conditions which I think helped us out in the end.”
More consistent defensive form would be welcome considering the busy stretch of the schedule the Reds face.
Toronto meet Atlanta United on Wednesday followed by the two sides currently at the top of the Eastern Conference table, Philadelphia Union on May 11 and D.C. United on May 15. Then they close out a five-game, 15-day stretch by traveling to Real Salt Lake on May 18.
Vanney isn't daring to look too far ahead, however, with suddenly resurgent Atlanta poised to offer plenty of problems for a Toronto defense looking to keep improving.
“It’s a difficult place to play,” said Vanney. “You don’t want to give that team, which is a very good attacking team, lots of opportunities to attack you, so we have to take care of the ball and if we do that, we’ll also put ourselves in a position to defend better as we did today. But you got to have a complete performance when you go into Atlanta because they’re obviously a good team.”