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TFC look to tackle road woes
March 19, 2009, 4:44 PM
Filed under: Toronto FC

While there’s been no place like home for Toronto FC, the road has been a cruel mistress.

Located on the Toronto waterfront, BMO Field has become somewhat of a fortress thanks to the 20,000-plus fans who berate and throw streamers at opposing players while shouting themselves hoarse for 90 minutes at every FC home game.

As a result, BMO Field is the most intimidating stadium in Major League Soccer for visiting teams, and Toronto has used that to its advantage, carving out a respectable 11-14-5 home record since joining the league in 2007.

But the team’s road record makes for pretty grim reading. Since its inaugural MLS season, the Canadian club has managed to win just four games away from the cozy confines of BMO Field.

Four wins in 30 road games over two years.

That’s not good enough for John Carver, and the Toronto coach makes no bones about saying that the team has to do better on the road to qualify for the playoffs this year.

“That’s one of my goals this season: to pick up more points on the road. Our home record has been fantastic and it can still be better, but we need to do something on the road,” Carver said ahead of the team’s season opener on Saturday, an away game against the Kansas City Wizards.

Players realize road-weary play

The team’s anemic form on the road the past two years hasn’t been lost on the players.

“It’s been poor. As good as we have been at home, we’ve been just as poor away,” admitted midfielder Carl Robinson.

Robinson believes the key to playing better away from home is maintaining a consistent starting lineup.

“On our day, we know we can beat anyone but we’ve also shown we can lose to anyone on any day. What we need to do is get consistency in our team. Consistency comes from players playing together for a number of games, players understanding each other,” explained the Welshman.

But Carver sees things differently, and said he won’t shy away from juggling his starting lineup for road games.

“I need to put a team out there that’s going to pick up points on the road. I will change the team on the road from time to time to win games,” Carver said.

Another major problem for Toronto last year was the team’s propensity for giving up late goals. On five different occasions, Toronto conceded a goal in the final 10 minutes of regulation, either when leading or with the score tied.

The team ended up earning just one point from those games (instead of seven points), and in the end, it was at a great cost: Toronto finished five points out of a playoff spot.

Needless to say, Toronto has to finish off its opponents if it hopes to make the playoffs this year.

“We conceded too many last-minute goals last season, which is worrisome. That’s got to be eradicated this year,” Robinson said.

Carver said he recently sat down with his coaching staff members and reviewed game video from the 208 campaign, and they discovered that many of the late goals they conceded were due to individual error.

‘Wow’ factor missing

Carver stressed that his players need to make a simple clearance, instead of trying to dribble out of danger, when they have the ball in their end of the field and are under pressure late in the contest.

“There weren’t many goals that made us say, ‘Wow, what a super goal that was.’ We gave away goals, so what I’m saying is if we eliminate the errors and eliminate trying to overplay the ball in the wrong areas that lead to goals, we’re halfway there,” explained the Englishman.

After the Kansas City game, Toronto visits the MLS champion Columbus Crew on March 28, before hosting Seattle Sounders FC in its home opener on April 4 (CBC,, 3:30 p.m. ET).

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