Toronto FC winless in eight games after road loss to FC Dallas

TFC-Pozuelo-celebrates-after-scoring

Toronto FC's Alejandro Pozuelo. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Toronto FC 0, FC Dallas 3 (Badji 41’, 58’; Bressan 51’)
• TFC now winless in 8 games; longest such stretch since 2013
• Toronto has never won in 10 road games in Dallas

A 15-day layoff did little to lift a lifeless Toronto FC out of the doldrums.

TFC wilted in the summer heat on Saturday night, dropping a 3-0 decision to FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, in another loss for a club that is trending in the wrong direction.

Toronto (5-7-4) is now winless in eight games (with five losses), its longest stretch without a win since the 2013 season. Its previous victory came on May 4, which seems like eons ago considering the team’s downward spiral.

The end of the Concacaf Gold Cup can’t some soon enough for a slumping TFC, who desperately need Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Jonathan Osorio to return from international duty and back in the line-up. Veteran defender Omar Gonzalez, who signed with Toronto last month but can’t officially join the team until July 9, will also be a welcome addition to a side that has leaked 28 goals in 16 games.

Not so long ago, Toronto was known for its depth and balanced roster. Those days are long gone. Take away a few of TFC’s key starters, and any MLS team worth its salt can expose them, much like Dallas did on Saturday. It’s a sad state of affairs, and you have to believe that GM Ali Curtis’ main priority is to bring in reinforcements when the league’s secondary transfer window opens in early July. Top of his list should be a winger, someone who can add width to the attack, because right now Toronto unimaginatively tries to play through its opponents by going straight down the middle.

The Reds have never won in Dallas, having lost eight of 10 contests, and collecting just two out of a possible 30 points. Toronto last earned a road point against Dallas in a 1-1 draw in 2012.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney had to juggle his starting line-up for a variety of reasons. Bradley and fellow American Altidore, as well as Canadians Osorio and Ashtone Morgan were away at the Gold Cup. Central defender Chris Mavinga and full-back Auro Jr. were still unavailable due to hamstring issues. Back-up goalkeeper Alex Bono was ruled out after picking up a knock in training this week.

Alejandro Pozuelo was granted permission by the club to return to his native Spain over the break, and he only returned on Wednesday. Vanney appeared to give his chief playmaker some extra rest ahead of next week when Toronto plays two games in four days.

Midfielder Jacob Shaffelburg, a 19-year-old native of Nova Scotia, started on the bench after signing with the senior team on Friday. A former youth academy graduate who previously played for the TFC II farm club this season, Shaffelburg made his MLS debut as a second-half substitute.

Without its two leading scorers in Altidore and Pozuelo, TFC struggled to create much and laboured in attack during the first half. It’s only chance came when Terrance Boyd broke in on goal early on, and forced a clearance by Dallas defender Matt Hedges that hit the far post.

The hosts took control as the game wore on, with goalkeeper Quentin Westberg called upon to make a series of a brilliant saves against a surging Dallas side who outshot the visitors 13-1 (7-1 on target) through the first 45 minutes.

Westberg made a trio of fabulous stops in a four-minute span, tipping long-range shots from Brandon Servania and Bressan over the crossbar. Toronto couldn’t clear its lines inside the box, but Westberg came to the rescue when he denied Michael Barrios by getting down low to push his low drive around the post.

Westberg could do nothing about Dallas’ opening goal, though, as an unmarked Dominique Badji tapped Jesus Ferreira’s shot from in close over the goal-line. The damage could have been far worse had Westberg not come up with a miraculous double save just before the halftime break.

In desperate need of creativity, Vanney sacrificed defender Laurent Ciman by subbing in Pozuelo at the start of the second half. The switch meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

Westberg picked up where he left off after the restart, stopping Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal inside the box after he capitalized on a defensive miscue by TFC defender Drew Moor. Moments later, Bressan beat Boyd to a ball played into the box off a corner kick and nodded it home to put Toronto down 2-0.

Toronto was caught flat-footed on a Dallas counter-attack, and Badji bagged his third goal following a flowing move down the right flank.

NOTES: Dallas leads the all-time MLS series against Toronto, with 11 wins and five draws in 18 contests. This was the only meeting this season between the clubs… TFC returns to action with two games next week: at home vs. Atlanta United (June 26) and away to D.C. United (June 29)…

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