April 4, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs Seattle Sounders FC (from MLSnet.com)

Disappointing Result For Reds In Home Opener
04/04/2009 08:39 PM By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staff

TORONTO -- After a season-opening win in Kansas City and a draw last week against the defending MLS Cup champions in Columbus, Toronto FC entered their home opener against Seattle looking to make a statement that they were going to be one of the league's elite teams in 2009. Unfortunately for the Reds, the statement ended up being that the team's road to improvement won't be an easy one in the wake of a 2-0 defeat to Sounders FC.

"It was disappointing, simple as that," said defender Kevin Harmse. "We had some good points on the road in the first two games and ... I don't know, [it was a] bad day at the office. We were second to everything, not nearly good enough."

It was a rare poor showing at home for Toronto, who lost for just the third time at BMO Field since the start of the 2008 season. The 20,658 fans in attendance began the game befitting their usual party atmosphere, but some boos were raining down upon the Reds by the final whistle.

TFC head coach John Carver didn't blame the supporters for voicing their disapproval, calling the match "a disgrace."

"I'll apologize to the fans because they've not seen us for five months and that's a disappointing show in your first home game of the season," Carver said. "There was an awful lot of hype coming into the game ... and it just didn't work out. We weren't right. We looked a yard slow, we didn't win any second balls, we didn't compete ... all in all, it's a hugely disappointing game and result."

The coach said he wasn't happy with the play of anyone on his team, and also didn't want to accept the weather (close to 40 mph winds and a 32-degree temperature) as an excuse.

"I thought we lost to the better side," Carver said. "They adapted to the conditions far better than we did. It just shows you when there's a gale-force wind you can still play football, and hats off to [Seattle head coach] Sigi [Schmid]'s men, they did that."

Toronto captain Jim Brennan agreed, saying the problem with his team's lack of ball movement was more due to poor quality, rather than the weather.

"We did have trouble with the wind today, but so did they," Brennan said. "Even with the wind we seemed to pass it and it came straight back to us and it was all over the place."

The Reds only allowed two quality scoring chances to Sounders FC, but the opportunistic Seattle side capitalized on them both. TFC fell behind in the 15th minute after a class one-two passing play between Seattle forwards Nate Jaqua and Freddie Ljungberg that resulted in Ljungberg converting his first MLS goal.

"We came out with a lot of passion, a lot of pride and then I think after that first goal really kind of deflated us," said TFC striker Chad Barrett. "We didn't really create a lot of opportunities and it just seemed like the bounces, the second balls and everything were going to Seattle."

The second Seattle goal was perhaps an even bigger blow to the Reds' morale, as it came right on the verge of the halftime break. A shot deflected off two TFC defenders and fell to a wide-open Steve Zakuani on the left, who sent it past goalkeeper Greg Sutton to give Sounders FC the insurance goal.

Carver described the two goals both as examples of the kind of attack that Toronto was lacking, and as a case of a team-wide defensive breakdown.

"If you cast your mind back to the Kansas City game, we got our goals by playing the same way," Carver said. "Giving goals, passing and moving, but we just seemed to stand still and watch players move around us.

"It's not always about your back four when you're defending. You defend from the front. If your front four aren't defending properly and your midfield players aren't defending for you, no matter how well you did as a back four, you can still be put under pressure."

Carver has often preached to his players about keeping a level head no matter how well or poorly the team is playing, and if nothing else, the Seattle game might serve as a reality check to the Reds that success won't come overnight.

"Like I said after the first game of the season and as you saw today, there's an awful lot of work to be done," Carver said. "The good thing is it's only three games into the season. We had our backsides kicked, I've got no excuses, [we were] beaten by the better team and now I've got to roll up my sleeves with that lot in there and put it right."

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