Winless-in-4 TFC surrenders 6 goals to Philadelphia
This time the rain and lightning didn't come to Toronto FC's rescue.
If only it had, then long-suffering TFC fans would have been spared from watching the Reds concede a trio of first-half goals en route to suffering a humiliating 6-2 loss to the visiting Philadelphia Union Saturday afternoon.
The loss marked an all-time low in the five-year history of TFC, who had not given up five goals in a game since a 5-0 loss to New York in the 2009 regular season finale.
Torrential rain and lightning in Toronto Wednesday night forced match officials to abandon the second leg of the Canadian Nutrilite championship between TFC and the Vancouver Whitecaps in the 60th minute with the Reds trailing 1-0.
But with nary a dark cloud hovering over BMO Field, the Reds were forced to completely fend for themselves this time.
TFC (2-5-6-) is now winless in four Major League Soccer matches (two losses and two draws), its last victory coming on May 7.
Toronto coach Aron Winter did not sugarcoat his team’s performance.
"We were humiliated," the Dutchman plainly said.
Hung out to dry by a porous defence, goalkeeper Stefan Frei called Saturday’s debacle an embarrassment and the "most bitter loss" of his professional career.
"Apologies to our fans [because] we don’t deserve their support when we play like this," a somber Frei admitted.
Winter made one major change to his starting lineup, breaking up his usual central defensive pairing of Canadian Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams. Ty Harden partnered Williams in the middle, with Cann on the bench.
It was questionable move because disorganized doesn't even come close to accurately describing TFC's defence on this day. That would be giving the Reds' back line far too much credit.
This was a train wreck.
Errant passes played out of the back, missed marking assignments and silly giveaway were the norm. Without Cann by his side, Williams looked completely out of his depth in trying to anchor the defence.
One can't help but wonder that if Cann, the team's MVP from a season ago, had started that things would have been much different for Toronto.
And if Winter really felt the need to bench Cann, why did he replace him with Harden, who has consistently proven to be a liability this season, when fellow Canadian Nana Attakora would have been the better option?
Winter explained that Cann had played a lot of minutes this season and looked tired, while Harden impressed him in recent training sessions.
"There’s not much to say. It’s embarrassing," said Harden.
TFC's startling capitulation began with Gabriel Farfan's goal in the second minute, the Union midfielder easily giving fullback Dan Gargan the slip and burying a shot inside the far post past Frei.
Nine minutes later Justin Mapp was allowed to go on a surging run straight down the middle without Harden closing him down before beating Frei with a long-range effort.
The Reds' worst half of the season was punctuated in the 44th minute when Kyle Nakazawa scored on a gorgeous and fluid tic-tac-toe passing sequence by Philadelphia that cruelly exposed TFC's standstill defence.
Not surprisingly, the Reds were booed off the field by the crowd at the halftime whistle.
Needing to revive his team, Winter replaced the ineffectual Julian de Guzman with Javier Martina and Gargan with Danleigh Borman at the start of the second half.
The changes had an immediate impact, as the Reds came to life for the first time in the match, attacking with promise and purpose. Borman played a lovely pass to captain Maicon Santos, who rounded onrushing goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon and scored into an empty net in the 50th minute.
Borman was at it again four minutes later, his low pass into the box somehow eluding the Philadelphia defenders and finding its way to Santos to easily slot home.
Suddenly we had a game on our hands, but the Union restored their two-goal advantage in the 62nd minute, capitalizing on another TFC turnover before Mapp turned Harden inside out and unleashed a shot that blew by Frei.
The onslaught continued 10 minutes later. Danny Mwanga was somehow left unmarked inside the box off a corner kick, and had enough time to settle the ball before scoring on a close-range shot.
The rout was completed in the 89th minute, Mwanga finding acres of open space and netting his second of the match.
"You have to show heart and fight, a little bit of pride – you can’t get scored on six times at home," Frei stated.
NOTES: Toronto's next game is June 4 at home against Sporting Kansas City … Forward Alan Gordon sat out his fifth consecutive MLS match Saturday with a groin injury. The Reds were also missing injured midfielder Jacob Peterson (hamstring)… Prior to kickoff, the newest members of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame were introduced to the Toronto crowd, including former TFC coach Nick Dasovic.