April 24, 2007 Toronto FC playing together (from Globe and Mail)

POSTED ON: 24/04/07

Toronto FC finally starting to mesh as a team

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

KANSAS CITY The next goal Toronto FC scores will be its first. And even that would not guarantee its first Major League Soccer victory in the third game of its first season Wednesday night against the Kansas City Wizards at vast Arrowhead Stadium.

That is part of being an expansion team, things can take time to come together. Toronto FC has been outscored 6-0 after two games.

Now that head coach Mo Johnston has his team pretty well set after last week's flurry of deals, the process of gelling as a team can really begin.

The workouts leading into Wednesday night's game were spirited and Johnston seemed happier about the group that he has assembled and also with the fact that the injury list has shrunk. These developments allow some players to return to accustomed roles.

"I feel like we're a completely new team," said forward Alecko Eskandarian after one of those practices. "There was nothing against the guys that were here. I just think that there were guys playing out of position and things like that and we weren't all sorted out with our formations.

"Now we kind of have all the pieces to the puzzle and I know Mo is always still looking to add but we have a solid base now where everybody's comfortable with where they're playing and everyone knows their role."

Eskandarian obviously can't say if that will translate into instant victories but he said, "I know I can guarantee that it's going to be a much more cohesive team out there and a much better team."

Toronto FC has several players who are new to the MLS but Eskandarian, 24, has played with DC United and was involved in winning a championship in 2004.

"I was talking to one of the guys the other day and he asked how our roster compares to everyone else's," he said. "I said talent-wise we're right there but it's just experience. Every other team in the league has a core group of 10 or 15 guys who have been in the league for a few years. They know what it's like to win, they know what it's like to lose and all the hard work that goes in.

"Over here we have the opposite. We have 10 or 15 guys that really haven't experienced MLS or haven't experienced what it takes to win in this league. I think that is really important. For us we're going to gain that experience along the way."

He said it will take experience in games to develop as a team.

"Nothing compares to game experience," he said. "Seeing how different people react to different things. Knowing their tendencies, where they're going to be, that just takes games playing with each other."

One of Toronto FC's new additions from last week, striker Danny Dichio, who was signed from Preston North End in England, will not play tonight because his visa is still being worked out.

He will be able to play Saturday when Toronto FC opens its home season at BMO Field in a return match with the Wizards, the team with which Johnston won the MLS championship in 2000 as a player with his current assistant coach, Bob Gansler, as head coach.

Midfielder Ronnie O'Brien, who has an injured right knee, has been practising with a knee brace and is hoping that he can participate to some degree in Saturday's game.

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