Toronto FC looks for rare home win against Crew on TSN

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The Canadian Press
7/26/2013 5:19:13 PM
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TORONTO -- No matter how they're viewed, the numbers are ugly for Toronto FC.

The club has just two victories from 20 Major League Soccer matches this season, a winless skid is now at six games and a goalless drought is closing in on 300 minutes.

You can watch the game on TSN and TSN Mobile TV, Saturday at 2pm et/11am pt.

But of all the statistics marking another disastrous season, the one that's hardest to take for players and fans alike is that it's been more than a year since they won at BMO Field.

"Obviously at home, with not winning in so long, there's a lot of nervous energy, just in the stadium in general," midfielder Bobby Convey said Friday after training ahead of Saturday's match at BMO Field against the Columbus Crew. "Everybody feels it.

"We need to get the fans behind the team again, give them something to watch."

Of course, winning requires scoring a goal, something Toronto has not done since scoring three in the opening 24 minutes of a home match against Montreal on July 3. TFC went on to squander a two-goal lead in the second half in an eventual 3-3 draw.

Toronto's last win at BMO Field was on July 18 of last year, when they defeated Colorado 2-1. The Reds are 0-7-9 at the stadium since.

On Saturday, Toronto (2-10-8) will be looking to build on a 0-0 draw at home with the New York Red Bulls last weekend, just the second clean sheet of 2013 for the club.

"The defence has been superb lately," said striker Justin Braun. "Now, us attacking guys have to do our part and hopefully get some goals."

While Braun, who has been nursing a toe infection, is expected to be available Saturday, Toronto will be without their two most dangerous strikers as Robert Earnshaw and Danny Koevermans remain sidelined with injuries.

Jeremy Brockie, who is likely to get his sixth straight start up front for TFC, said he and his teammates have been over playing the ball as they close in on the opponent's goal.

"We've been getting into good positions to pull the trigger but we seem to try and pass that responsibility on to someone else ... when we should have taken the shot," Brockie said. "It's just about having confidence in your ability to hit the target."

Toronto's 17 goals for in 20 matches is second-worst in MLS, ahead of only the nine scored by D.C. United, who sit dead-last in the 19-team league, one spot behind TFC.

Columbus (6-9-5), one spot ahead of Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings, comes in having lost four of their past five matches. The Crew leads the all-time record between the clubs at 9-1-7 and have never lost at BMO Field in eight visits, winning three times.

The Crew, 1-0 winners at BMO Field in May their only meeting so far this season, are led by strikers Dominic Oduro and Federico Higuain. Veteran defender Chad Marshall is an imposing presence in the Columbus defence.

A day after signing Spanish midfielder Alvaro Rey, Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen said the club is close to bringing in additional players, acknowledging the wait can be frustrating for fans. But he insisted the team's rebuild is on track despite the poor record.

"It may not seem like it but we do feel like we're starting to break the back and see some light," Nelsen said. "We've got a lot of good young players coming through and every day they are at training and every game that they play they just get better and better."

Rey, 24, who most recently played in Spain's second division, is billed as a skillful winger and solid crosser of the ball who will boost Toronto's attack. But he's still working on his match fitness and is unlikely to play against the Crew.

"There was definitely possibilities to play in Spain but I wanted to try something new, different country, different league," Rey told reporters through a translator. "And, I'm very happy with my decision to come to Toronto."

Asked if the club's continually poor performance, turmoil and perpetual rebuilding made him think twice about the move, Rey said, "I relish being part of something new.

"Hopefully with my skills and my mindset, I can help the team get ahead."

Toronto FC players (Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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