TORONTO – To make the playoffs, TFC doesn’t need to be as good as it was last year.
But it needs to rapidly earn points at a clip typically reserved for the league’s top finishers.
Historically speaking, MLS sides need to reach 50 points over a 34-game season to earn a playoff spot. Sitting on just seven points through nine games, the Reds would need to accumulate an additional 43 points from their remaining 25 games to reach the relative safety of the 50-point mark.
That 1.74 points per game rate would be superior to anything any MLS side earned last season except for the record 2.03 points per game rate TFC finished with.
Not a numbers person? Put it this way: To make the playoffs, the Reds likely need to put up Supporters’ Shield-like numbers the rest of the way – and hope mid-table teams like Orlando and New England or anyone else don’t finish too far north of .500 come the end of the season.
The time for preaching patience is drawing to a close. Desperation could soon set in, if it already hasn’t.
“I don’t think there’s desperation,” TFC coach Greg Vanney reassured the Toronto Sun. “I’d call it urgency.”
Blaming injuries is reassuring until you consider some of TFC’s important players are expected to remain shelved for the next two weeks or longer.
All told, the Reds have suffered an astonishing 51 man-games lost — through injury or fatigue — between 10 players who were among Vanney’s top minute-earners during the club’s MLS Cup run.
“I didn’t realize it was that number,” Vanney answered. “Do people understand how much (injuries) have hurt us? If they’re not talking about it then they don’t understand. When we have our core group plus four together our results speak for themselves.”
Toronto FC’s Champions League run showed how good this team can be when it’s healthy. But three weeks ago seems forever ago.
Best XI fullback Justin Morrow has missed eight of nine league games. Jozy Altidore has missed two-thirds of league starts. The club’s pure centrebacks — Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga and Nick Hagglund — already have combined for 27 man-games lost.
“I do firmly believe when we get guys back we’re fully capable of going on runs and building momentum and getting points,” Vanney added. “There are still 75 points out there to be had. A big part of us is to get healthy and get guys back in their typical roles.”
Toronto FC’s current injury crisis was made worse last weekend after Sebastian Giovinco was sent off in a 3-2 loss to New England after putting hands to an opponent’s face.
This after Vanney’s stated intention was to rest Giovinco, Victor Vazquez and Mavinga in preparation for Friday night’s suddenly crucial home date with Orlando City.
“It was a moment of frustration and losing focus,” Vanney said of the Atomic Ant’s moment of madness. “I don’t think Seba thought he’d get a red card.
“But the rules are written in our league,” he added. “Getting sent off at a time we don’t have Jozy is a situation we didn’t need. He recognizes that.”
It’s not hyperbolic to say Toronto FC’s playoff fate could be decided by Canada Day. While it’s early in the season, a hellish July schedule — the Reds play five of six on the road between July 1 and Aug. 4, including stops in Kansas City, Orlando and Atlanta — might be too much to overcome if Toronto FC doesn’t start collecting points before the summer months.
“(Our players) know 100% we can get back into this and that we can beat anyone in this league on any given day and in any situation and in any stadium,” Vanney said. “The thing for us is finding that foundation we can build off of. Hopefully, it comes this weekend and this game.”
The Reds don’t just need to be good from here on out.
They must be among the best teams in the league from now until the post-season. Reach the playoffs and the Reds know they’ll have the best side in the competition.
That said, there’s almost no wiggle room.
Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies