Home MLS Toronto FC Mariner fumes after TFC’s poor effort against the Fire

Mariner fumes after TFC’s poor effort against the Fire

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Toronto FC was officially eliminated from any chance at the MLS playoffs with Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Fire, and with the Reds’ minuscule postseason chances also went Paul Mariner’s patience. The TFC head coach was openly critical of his side’s effort and inability to avoid critical errors, particularly in a first half that saw the Reds concede two preventable goals.

“My first statement was that we were their best player,” Mariner said, when asked to describe his half-time speech to his team. “If you want to give teams a two-goal stand then carry on, but we’re not that good.  We were the architects of our own downfall, playing ridiculous balls in the wrong area of the field.  I thought we eradicated that, but obviously some of the lads that have been in the squad haven’t been listening.”

Players’ attention (or lack thereof) was a recurring theme for Mariner, who seemed a hair away from publicly calling out some of his team.

“It’s all about being a professional in every single aspect of the word,” Mariner said.

“We’re at the bottom of the table.  We haven’t won in two months…and that’s the type of performance that you get.  As group there is absolutely no excuse for that first half.  They played as individuals, they didn’t play as a team.

“Everything we spoke about today was about we have to be together to get a result and we were slow in all departments.  We didn’t stay with our runners, our passing was poor and there’s no excuse.”

It was an all-around downbeat night at BMO Field, with a quiet announced crowd of 14,623 that looked to be maybe half that size.  The few fans had little to cheer for early on as the Fire were able to move the ball almost at will in the early minutes, eventually striking when Pavel Pardo got the last touch on a passing play and banked a shot off the left post in the 13th minute.

This was no dodged bullet for Toronto, however, as Pardo was able to recover his own rebound and send a cross right to fellow midfielder Alvaro Fernandez, who headed it in for the goal.

TFC responded to Chicago’s goal with a 10-minute flurry of attack that included two solid chances for striker Eric Hassli.  Mariner, however, wasn’t impressed it took an opposing goal to wake up the Reds.

“The biggest concern for me is that we started to play when we were a goal down,” Mariner said.  “It’s easier to play when you’re losing, much easier because the pressure’s off.  It’s very difficult to play when you’re in that position and when the chips are down and so on and so forth.”

Toronto fell into a deeper hole in the 42nd minute when the ball bounced out to Fire striker Chris Rolfe following a corner, and Rolfe promptly converted a seeing-eye shot from 20 yards that three or four TFC defenders seemingly had a chance to get a foot on before it found the back of the net.

Hassli’s goal in the 79th minute revived TFC’s chances of getting a result, as the forward was on the conversion end of a nice passing play between Reggie Lambe and Luis Silva. Lambe put the ball in for Silva at the edge of the Fire’s box, and with two defenders concerned with Silva, the rookie passed to an undefended Hassli on the left side.

Silva and Darren O’Dea both had good chances in the final 10 minutes but the Reds couldn’t find the equalizer, making their first-half defensive problems all the more harmful.

“It’s no secret, we keep doing the same thing,” Silva said.  “We had our chances, if only we could put one away.  It’s the same thing, the same mistakes in the back and it’s costing us.  It’s been costing us the whole season.  The seasons going to be over and it’s still the same.”

Ashtone Morgan came into the game as a halftime substitute, the only of TFC’s internationals (Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson, Dicoy Williams) who was dressed for Wednesday’s match after being capped for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifiers.  Morgan picked up a yellow card in his 45 minutes of action and will now miss the Reds’ next game due to caution accumulation.

Morgan (an unused sub for Canada on Tuesday), Lambe and Freddy Hall were all dressed, the latter two following their participation in a friendly for Bermuda on Sept. 9.  Hall wasn’t in the Starting XI, however, as Milos Kocic received his first start at goalkeeper since Aug.18.

Despite the number of young players pressed into action by the international absences and injuries, Silva said the young starting XI shouldn’t be this disorganized at this point in the season.

“We have that experience already,” said Silva, himself in his MLS rookie year.  “I’ve played enough games, other guys have played enough games, it’s a matter of being mentally prepared.  We just have to stop making these little silly mistakes.”

Mariner took it a step further, saying that the young players should be playing harder given that they’re finally getting their opportunities to see the pitch.

“I was brought up in an an environment where you were dying to get a chance to play… and when you got your chance, you made sure you stayed on the team and that the manager couldn’t drop you,” Mariner said.

“There’s one thing you’ve got to have in a football team and that’s fight.  If you’re not fighting for your own personal pride, first and foremost, that’s a problem….You want to be the best you can possibly be in your field of work.  I don’t see that from some of the players on Toronto Football Club.  The mentality will change, starting tomorrow morning.”

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