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Wileman: Things seem to be getting worse for Toronto FC

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Luke Wileman
7/18/2013 4:27:02 PM
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Things seem to be getting worse, not better, for Toronto FC. The promised influx of new signings can't come soon enough for a club that is now winless in five matches and has just two victories all season.

The latest letdown came in California on Wednesday night when the Reds were beaten by a Chivas USA side that hadn't won since March and played for 65 minutes with 10 men after the harsh sending off of former TFC midfielder Eric Avila.

Toronto actually started the game as the better team but after Avila's red card Chivas were well organized and very disciplined, while the Reds lacked invention going forward and really struggled to test goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. At the other end, Erick Torres scored with a deflected shot against the run of play late in the game to snatch a win for the home team.

Torres didn't have much chance to make an impact on his debut, but the Mexican was able to take his chance when it came along. Chivas also benefitted from having former US international Carlos Bocanegra making his first start in defence. The leadership the veteran brought to the backline was clear to see. His performance stood out  in a game that lacked quality.

Toronto had a clear penalty claim denied late in the match when Jonathan Osorio was fouled, but their failure to break down the bottom team in the Western Conference having played with a man advantage for almost three quarters of the game showcased the team's desperate need for some more creativity in midfield and firepower up top, areas the club is currently looking to strengthen.

Toronto FC is still a team in transition. Within the last two weeks they have traded away Luis Silva, transferred captain Darren O'Dea and lost experienced defender Danny Califf to retirement. This year the revolving door has been spinning as much as it has at any time during the club's seven years, but so far the departures have not been matched by arrivals.

The club has made no secret of the fact that it plans to add three or four players in the current transfer window, and it will be impossible to judge the moves that have already been made until the new faces come in. However, the pressure is now on President and General Manager Kevin Payne to deliver having made space for arrivals and spoken so publicly about plans.

Wednesday's performance against Chivas was another example of just how far away this squad is from being able to legitimately talk about contending for the playoffs, and at this stage of the season, they actually have fewer points that they did in 2012 when the club started the year with a nine match losing run and had its worst ever season.

It doesn't get any easier for Ryan Nelsen's squad as they return home to face a New York Red Bulls team that had a big win over Montreal Impact last weekend.

New York's Thierry Henry put in a man-of-the-match performance against the Impact with a goal and two assists in a 4-0 victory as the Red Bulls pulled level on points with Montreal in the Eastern Conference standings. It has been a good season so far for rookie head coach Mike Petke who has been able to rely on his stars, but also get some extremely valuable performances from some of the lesser known names in the squad.

Eric Alexander scored against Montreal and has made the right side midfield spot his own while former Vancouver Whitecap Johnny Steele has also been impressive for the Red Bulls in recent weeks.

It's another stiff test for a Toronto FC side that has so far this season failed to find the answers.

Toronto FC against New York Red Bulls is live on MLS on TSN, Saturday at 4pm et/1pm pt on TSN and TSN Mobile TV.

Soccer (Photo: Mark Keppler/Bongarts/Getty Images))

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(Photo: Mark Keppler/Bongarts/Getty Images))
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