Toronto FC hopes to avoid starting the season with three straight losses - InfoNews

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Toronto FC hopes to avoid starting the season with three straight losses

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco reacts during his team's 2-0 loss to the Columbus Crew in Toronto on Saturday, March 3, 2018. While scoring wasn't a problem last season, Toronto FC is still looking for its first goal of 2018. The reigning MLS champions hope to end that drought when they host Real Salt Lake on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
March 29, 2018 - 2:46 PM

Toronto FC broke all kinds of records en route to their historic Major League Soccer title last season.

They're poised to break another record on Friday, but it's not nearly as glamorous. No defending MLS champion has opened the season with three consecutive losses, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Coach Greg Vanney pointed out it's a long season, and said how his team plays on the field at BMO Field against visiting Real Salt Lake on Friday means more than the result on the scoresheet.

"Yeah, we still have 32 games left, right?" Vanney said after practice Thursday. "And so I don't think that's really our focus, it's the performances. Good performances will get us results, and results will start to add up over the course of the season."

In an inauspicious start to their season, the Reds (0-2-0) have dropped decisions to the Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact. And after scoring a league-best 74 goals in last year's regular season, they have yet to find the back of the net.

Vanney, who won MLS coach of the year last season, said the first few games don't dictate an entire season.

"You've seen that in the league for many many years, that the first handful of games, teams are settling in. You've had teams who've been off for awhile that understand the urgency of coming off a long off-season because they weren't in the playoffs and so start off big," Vanney said. "Everything settles in over the course of the season at some point.

"That's why I say the performances are as important as anything right now, because you build off performances, you also build off of results, which I think we've had good results, but they haven't necessarily been in the league."

The Reds' good results have been in CONCACAF Champions League play, where they face Club America in the first leg of the semifinals on Tuesday in Toronto. Their offensive drought hasn't been a problem in Champions League either — they've scored six goals through four games.

Vanney said it's not easy balancing the two simultaneous challenges of MLS play and Champions League.

"Some of that for sure is my job," the coach said. "I think coaches are in place to try to prepare and plan and do all these things long-term. Players' jobs are to go out and win each game that they're sent out to play. Those are things I have in mind and obviously we're thinking about. . . For us it's about our performance and trying to be the best version of ourselves Friday and then we'll start to prepare for Tuesday."

Toronto is hoping to avoid back-to-back losses in MLS action at home for the first time since 2014. They've lost just two of their last 19 league home games.

The team is coming off a bye week that saw eight players called up for international duty, including Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan, Jay Chapman, Liam Fraser and Tosaint Ricketts, who helped Canada defeat New Zealand 1-0 last Saturday in coach John Herdman's debut as coach. Ricketts scored the lone goal.

Salt Lake (1-1-1) is coming off a 1-0 home win over the New York Red Bulls.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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