Forgetting DeRo, TFC disappointed with showing

Coach Winter gives blunt assessment: We need to play better

TORONTO — The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for Toronto FC. Club captain and attacking star Dwayne De Rosario was traded to New York after a few starts and stops. Toni Tchani and Danleigh Borman were acquired in exchange. 

But after Saturday's match with Chivas USA ended 1-1, head coach Aron Winter was in no mood to talk moral victories or to provide excuses for the result at home against a team that had yet to earn even a point. He was blunt in his assessment.

“We need to play better,” the coach said flatly. “because I think at that moment maybe we were sleeping. We were not focused at that moment, but after that, I think that yeah, we’ve played some parts of the game well, and other parts less.”

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Toronto FC 1, Chivas USA 1

That first goal came after just two minutes. Chivas USA striker Alejandro Moreno managed to spin off Nana Attakora and slot a loose ball past charging goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Playing with only three in the back, Toronto needed a strong outing from their defenders. But Attakora struggled, and Winter subbed the 21-year-old Canadian international off early in the second half.

“It was a tactical move,” Winter said. “Nana wasn’t in the game.”

Winter felt Toronto should've done better in the final third, but pointedly pronounced his disagreement with the calling back off an apparent goal from Maicon Santos. The assistant referee ruled the play offside, though, even on replays, it appeared very tight.  

"The opportunities to make a goal were a lot," Winter said. "But we were also surprised that the second goal that we made was offside. I think it wasn’t offside, it was really a goal."

The equalizer came in the 38th minute from Alan Gordon, who was traded to Toronto by Chivas USA just before the season started. The big striker was on his game all afternoon, and was "absolutely" pleased to score against his former club. However, the goal did not mask his frustration with the result.

"I don’t think it’s a great result for us at home," he said. "You’re always looking for three points, especially against a team like Chivas, that’ll probably be somewhere around the bottom of the West. It’s a tough result for us, but we’ve got a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces, and it’s going to be a job, getting together in a quick amount of time."

Two of the new guys were Tchani and Borman, both inserted into the lineup just hours after arriving in Toronto from New York.

"I think that the first 10 to 15 minutes they had some difficulties, but after that they played well," Winter said.

And there was an old face back in the mix. Midfielder Julian de Guzman came on at halftime, despite saying earlier this week that he was still “a week-and-a-half or so” away from being game fit. He missed the entire preseason due to surgery.

Sporting a short hairdo, de Guzman did not look like the star midfielder the club expects him to be. His touch was slightly off and his set pieces left much to be desired. But that did not keep Winter from being pleased to see the Canadian international back.

“The important thing for Julian is that he is fit,” Winter said. “Everyone knows what kind of player he can be.”

There are still 31 games for de Guzman to become that kind of player, but the Canadian international was just happy to see his first action of the year.

“For myself having not played since October, it was a great start,” he said.

With De Rosario’s departure, de Guzman is now one of the most important leaders on the team. He will not wear the captain’s armband—Winter has handed that to Maicon Santos—but he knows that the more experienced guys, including Maicon Santos and Stefan Frei, will be looked to by the rest of the squad and the fans to ensure TFC don’t receive many more blunt assessments from the coach.

"This game was one of those tough games where, you could see in the first half, there were moments where we were playing, we had opportunities, we were attacking," he said.

"In the second half, with the wind against us, it wasn’t as easy to play on the ground. But again, we had other opportunities in the second half where it could have changed the entire game. It was unfortunate that Maicon couldn’t put it away, but it’s one of those games where the guys just kept fighting throughout and we fought for one point."