Defoe, Osorio, Caldwell, Henry? Turns out Toronto FC doesn't need any of them, proving this with a 2-0 away victory against the previously undefeated Columbus Crew. In what was almost a carbon copy of the season opener against the Seattle Sounders the team proved once again that they can be resilient when circumstances are not on their side.
Michael Bradley and Issey Nakajima-Farran both had their first goals in a Toronto FC uniform, the former being the clear man of the match once again. Julio Cesar posted his second clean sheet of the season with a fantastic performance.
The sparse crowd at Columbus Crew Stadium was quiet for most of match as their club were consistently unable to do anything with their numerous chances.
As always a bigger analysis will be coming up shortly. But for now, bask in the glow of these highlights from yet another Toronto FC victory.
TFC- Michael Bradley
TFC- Issey Nakajima-Farran
TFC- Mark Bloom (Caution)
Toronto FC: 3-1-0 (9 pts)
Columbus Crew: 3-1-0 (9 pts)
Toronto FC: Cesar, Bloom, Orr, Hagglund, Morrow, Jackson, Bradley (Hall 73'), Bekker, Rey (Wiedeman 78'), De Rosario (Nakajima-Farran 69'), Gilberto
Unused Subs: Bendik, Richter, Agbossoumonde, Hamilton
Columbus Crew: Clark, Williams (Meram 67'), Gonzalez, Parkhurst, Francis, Trapp, Tchani (Arrieta 74'), Jimenez, Higuain, Anor, Oduro (Finlay 81')
Unused Subs: Wahl, Viana, Lampson, Barson
RYAN NELSEN - HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC
On executing the game plan:
I thought the guys did a great job especially playing such a good team away from home. It's extremely hard to win away from home in this League and we had a quite a few injuries and quite a few guys who hadn't even played pre-season let alone league minutes. You know, Jackson had probably the best game I've ever seen him play. I just thought he was amazing and everybody else was great too. It was just a very hardened professional away performance.
On amount of injuries and missing players:
We had about five or six of guys carrying strains and it was pretty much who was the most injured had to come off. It wasn't pretty but it was such a hardened kind of performance with backs against the wall even the guys that guys that were playing were having trouble trying to run. I couldn't be prouder of the guys. We know where our weaknesses are and we know our strengths. We know we have to dig deep we have to get guys we have to get experience.
On using fans' doubts as motivation:
No, I don't use that as motivation because you don't really listen to anything bad when you're thinking good. We have our own goals. We knew if we were disciplined and if we were hardened, we could stop them. Of course there are going to be things we can improve on considering the absences that we've had and I think the lack of playing time that the whole squad has had to give up is hard.
On the start of season:
It's what I said before, it's going to be a rollercoaster ride before the team finds itself and we grow together and learn about each other and where our strengths and our weaknesses are. We learned from Real Salt Lake and we're going to have more lessons that we are going to learn from. What I like about these guys is that they listen and work hard and their trying to put into practice what we need to work on. There is going to be more instances that we're going to learn from and we're going to be criticized, we just have to keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard.
On Nick Hagglund's MLS debut:
He was fantastic, I thought both center backs were incredible. Columbus is a very good team, they are very well coached. Gregg did a great job with them, they got a really nice young squad and they are really dangerous players. I think that the only really danger that we had was a few scrambles from some crosses but there was only really a couple of clear chances. I think that we probably had the best clear chances in the game. We had great opportunities and that is what we are trying get and what we're trying to learn from. We're just trying to learn about ourselves and get better as a team.
On the game going as planned:
We knew the strengths of Columbus and we knew some of their weaknesses. We knew if we were patient that we would get a couple clear chances but we had to be disciplined because they are a very good team. We have our own tactics and we know what we think we know that can give these guys the best opportunities to win games and sometimes it works and sometimes we get it completely wrong, especially in this league because it's so hard to win away from home in this league.
MICHAEL BRADLEY - MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC
On the game plan coming to Columbus:
We talked before the game about how it was important that we showed a strong reaction to the game last week. A good team doesn't make the same mistake twice. A good team doesn't lose two games in a row. To come here and play against a good team while missing a few guys just shows the character of the team, the mentality, and we understand that there is a lot to improve on still and a lot to work on as we go forward.
On the team effort:
We talked all week about what it takes to win big games and win a game like this and it takes total effort, total determination, and that kind of mentality from every guy. Just talking about that doesn't guarantee three points on Saturday but it goes a long way.
NICK HAGGLUND - DEFENDER, TORONTO FC
On winning in Columbus:
It was an incredible experience to come to Columbus and play on this pitch with these guys and get a shutout here against a team that's been killing it lately is incredible.
On added pressure with family and friends:
Playing in front of people that I know, I knew that after the game I was going to see my family and my girlfriend and everything. So I know, win or loss they were going to be there for me so they absolutely took some pressure off of me.
GREGG BERHALTER - Columbus Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach
On the team's play:
We had a horrendous start to the game. It was sloppy in every sense of the word. Our defending, our ball possession, our aggressiveness in our ball movements and we paid for it. I think they capitalized on a great individual effort by Michael Bradley and we're chasing the game. They did a good job. Let's give them some credit as well. They got their guys back, they stayed organized and they were very difficult to break down. Then we didn't have a little bit of luck. A couple chances, a couple cross bars, a couple things that hit the post and it didn't work out. But, I attribute this loss to two things: Bad start to the game and a very well organized Toronto FC.
On the offensive struggles:
To me, it was the movement inside the penalty box, which we lacked and I think it's just not on one player; it's on a number of guys getting into the penalty box, making good, hard runs. When you look at goals that were scored, it's from good movements inside the penalty box and we lacked that today.
On counteracting Toronto's attacking pace:
I think it's the movements inside the penalty box and it's the crossing. How many crosses did we cut back to no one at the top of the box? How many times did we prepare the ball in a way we couldn't play it across the front of the goal quickly enough? We had opportunities. There were chances there and we just didn't capitalize on that.
On good week of practice and result of the match:
That's the funny thing about it because that's soccer. You have a terrible week of training; you come out and have a great game. You have a great week of training and you play not so well. That's the game of soccer and, as a coach, you don't read into the training week too much because we had a phenomenal week at training. It was one of the best weeks we've had so far, in terms of what we were working on, the movements and everything else. Who knows?
On addressing the team after its first loss and the team's mood:
I would say it was mixed. I would say I was disappointed how we started the game. To me, it's something where we got complacent and that's the worst thing a team like us can do because we need to keep fighting. We need to keep pushing and we're not there yet. To get complacent and to take a half off is not good.
On building on the loss:
We're going to learn from it. There's a lot to learn from this game, but having said that, this is this group's first loss. Since how long have we've been together? There will be more losses but this is our first loss. This is a good test for us as a group to how we respond, how we get back and how the hunger is back there again. I'm looking forward to the response.
On Bradley's play:
There's no secret, he's a great player. We don't even need to discuss that. We know that. If you give a good player the ball in the penalty box, good things can happen, and he punished us today.
On errors early in the game and the team's response to those errors:
I think its complacency. We thought they were going to come in and lay down. They're missing Jermain Defoe, [Steven] Caldwell, [Jonathan] Osorio, [Doneil] Henry; we thought they were going to come in and lay down for us and they weren't. Why would they? This is MLS. In MLS, every game is tight. We know that. The starting point of this is preparation and being prepared to play the game. These games are all tight games, look at around the League. Look at the games. We shouldn't have had that attitude and I'll take responsibility for that if we did and we have to be ready to play from the opening whistle.
STEVE CLARK - Goalkeeper, Columbus Crew
On if he saw any changes from the guys in front of him:
I think we have to come out of the gate ready to go. That's been our game all year. When you don't do that, sometimes you get punished and obviously the first goal was a soft one by me. We will move on. It's not the first [loss] and won't be the last unfortunately.
On what was lacking early on:
I'm not really sure but we are going to make sure in the future that doesn't happen again. I like to motivate the guys. We are going to bounce back. It's a young team and it is important to learn lessons like this. You have to come out and play, you have to go take the game and earn it.
On what he saw on Michael Bradley's goal:
I knew he was going to shoot it. It was a tight angle. He hit it very well. I didn't get a good look at it. The shot went right in between my legs unfortunately.
HECTOR JIMENEZ - Midfielder, Columbus Crew
On Toronto forcing Columbus to the outside:
It happened in the second half. Toronto was letting us get wide because of the tall bodies they had in there. We need to do a better job of combining up top. It's one of those tough games. Hopefully we can bounce back on the road and get back on that winning streak.
On if it is frustrating to get opportunities but not be able to convert:
Definitely, even if we are down we have to keep going to try and get a goal. But unfortunately we didn't get one today. I think it's the first year we have been shutout. Hopefully, we have a better performance next game.