Soccer

Toronto FC needs to play with 'more grit': Sutton

Goaltender Greg Sutton believes Toronto FC must play with 'more grit' if it has any chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

Toronto FC's playoff prospects look pretty bleak.

Toronto has only one win in its last 11 games, its latest result a 3-1 loss to Chivas USA at home last weekend.

That loss dropped the team's record to 7-11-5 and with just 26 points, Toronto remains in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, six points out of a playoff spot with seven games left in Major League Soccer's regular season.

If that wasn't bad enough, Toronto's next game is against the Columbus Crew, the best team in MLS, on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3:30 p.m. ET).

Oh, and it gets even worse: Toronto has never defeated Columbus in five meetings between the clubs since the Canadian club joined the league in 2007.

What does goalkeeper Greg Sutton think Toronto has to do to start winning again and fight back into the playoff picture?

Simple. Play with a little more grit.

"We're struggling right now, there's no denying that. Everybody knows it. It's something we have to deal with and we have to try to put a little bit more pressure on ourselves, put a little bit more pride in our play," Sutton told CBCSports.ca.

Added Sutton: "We have to start doing the right things on the field because you can't knock our effort, the effort is there. We have to try to be more determined and more tenacious. Start playing, not dirty, but with a little more grit."

Sutton said he and his teammates have to step up, and that Saturday's game against Columbus is the perfect place to start, as it will serve as an indicator of what the team is made of.

"If we continue to work hard things will fall our way, but we're in a do-or-die situation here and we'll see what kind of character we have," Sutton said.

"We'll see the guys that come out on top and the guys that don't, so it'll be a good character test for everybody."

Sutton didn't play against Chivas last Saturday because he was at home taking care of his wife, who gave birth to the couple's first child, Maya Elizabeth, the previous day.

"It's a great experience and an awesome time in my life. She puts things in perspective for me," Sutton said of his daughter.

Whether or not Sutton will be back between the posts for Toronto against Columbus remains to be seen. Backup Brian Edwards started against Chivas, and coach John Carver has a reputation of going with the same goalkeeper in consecutive games, as opposed to changing things up.

"I don't know yet if I will start, but it's John's decision and out of my hands. I'll just train hard this week and hopefully I will get to start," Sutton said

Eight Toronto players were away on national team duty this past week, and Sutton believes the travelling will take a toll on the returning players — especially midfielder Carl Robinson, who played for Wales in Russia on Wednesday.

"It's part of being professional and is something you have to deal with, but it's not easy travelling back from international games," said Sutton, a regular with the Canadian national team.

"It does take a lot out of the guys. Hopefully everyone can take care of their bodies and come back here ready for the weekend."

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