What does Toronto FC have to do to win another game?
That's the question fans of the hapless Canadian club were left asking themselves after Toronto lost its first regular season game at home this season, dropping a 2-0 decision to FC Dallas Sunday afternoon at BMO Field.
Toronto midfielder Amado Guevara was red carded in the 79th minute for an off-the-ball foul inside the box (he hit out in retaliation against Pablo Ricchetti and gave him a bloody nose), and Dallas forward Kenny Cooper converted from the penalty spot.
Toronto is winless in its last six Major League Soccer regular season contests — and its past 11 games overall — having last tasted victory on June 14. Toronto hadn't lost a league game at BMO Field since a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew on Sept. 22, 2007, a stretch of 11 consecutive games.
With a 6-8-4 record and 22 points, Toronto remains in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and is still in the playoff hunt. If Toronto doesn't snap out of this losing funk soon, though, it can forget all about the post-season.
Forward Chad Barrett, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Fire last week, worked hard in his debut for Toronto but the Wayne Rooney look-alike failed to make a lasting impression.
"He did some good things, and he did have many opportunities," Toronto coach John Carver said. "I think he's more of a poacher. He's not a spectacular goal-man, although he did have a chance there in the second half. The more he gets to know the guys the more he'll get on, and I think he's got goals in him.
Jeff Cunningham also under whelmed. Already in Carver's doghouse, the veteran forward failed to give the offence any kind of spark and was kept off the score sheet yet again — his last goal came almost two months ago (on June 8).
Toronto's lack of offence is a growing concern, begging the question when general manager Mo Johnston will finally deliver on his promise of adding an international striker to the roster.
Barrett started in place of the injured Danny Dichio (concussion), the team's top scorer this season with five goals. Toronto was also missing midfielder Maurice Edu and defender Marvell Wynne, both away with the U.S. Olympic team.
In an uneventful first half, the teams battled for possession in midfield, with the only scoring chance coming early when Toronto defender Marco Velez's volley from in close was stopped by Dallas goalkeeper Dario Sala.
Toronto came out with greater attacking purpose at the start of the second half, pinning Dallas inside its half and swarming their opponent's penalty area.
Barrett misfired on a glorious scoring chance in the 67th minute before coming out of the game shortly after with a leg injury.
Dallas held on for dear life and saw its fortunes turn around when Guevara was expelled after scuffling with Ricchetti. Cooper scored from the spot when he sent Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton the wrong way.
"The call was OK. It was fine, but why didn't they give it to [Ricchetti] as well? ... It's fine I got a card, but they should've given the other guy a card as well," Guevara said through an interpreter.
Toronto finished the game with only nine players after Velez earned his second yellow card with six minutes left in regulation. A Toronto trainer was also sent to the dressing room after arguing with the officials.
Cooper bagged his league-leading 13th goal of the season on a 25-yard strike in injury time to put the game out of reach.
After the final whistle, Carver raced onto the field to prevent captain Jim Brennan from shaking hands with the referee, who needed to be escorted back to the locker-room by police officers in order to avoid confrontations with the angry Toronto fans.
Toronto's next game is on the road against the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 9.