Newspaper article The Canadian Press

As MLS Season Winds Down, Toronto FC Still Trying to Solve Defensive Woes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

As MLS Season Winds Down, Toronto FC Still Trying to Solve Defensive Woes

Article excerpt

Defensive woes take toll on Toronto FC

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TORONTO - Injuries have hurt Toronto FC all season long. But so has a porous defence.

It has made for an unsettling campaign for the MLS champions who are on pace to concede a franchise-worst 66 goals -- surpassing the 62 given up in 2012 when the team went 5-21-8.

While the offence has revived recently, striker Jozy Altidore is hardly resting easy.

"No, because even if we score six, we might give up seven," said Altidore. "So, no."

Toronto (8-14-6) has scored 19 goals in its last eight matches in all competitions (3-4-1). It has also conceded 19.

Toronto gave up just 37 goals in its 2017 championship season. It is currently at 55 and counting.

The early-season demands of the CONCACAF Champions League took a terrible toll on the backline, especially on the team's centre backs. Influential defenders Drew Moor and Chris Mavinga have yet to start a league game together.

The team has not defended well as a whole, however. It has given up the ball in bad situations. And at the back, goalkeeper Alex Bono has made mistakes.

The opening goal in Toronto's 3-1 loss to Mexico's Tigres UANL in the Campeones Cup on Wednesday was all too familiar. Tigres defender Juninho, facing no pressure, floated a ball over the Toronto defence to fullback Jesus Duenas.

Wingback Gregory van der Wiel and centre back Eriq Zavaleta were caught out. Captain Michael Bradley, playing centre back, tried to funnel Duenas to the side but the Mexican was able to beat Bono at the near post.

"It's staying engaged, being aware of your surroundings and then not getting caught by surprise and being a little naive, I think, in the situation," said Toronto coach Greg Vanney.

"But yes, we've seen that a couple of times."

Toronto, which has scored 50 goals this season, returns its attention to the league as it visits the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. …

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