If this game was a measuring stick then there is still a ton of room for Toronto FC to grow. While this loss does little to affect Toronto's playoff aspirations, it does significantly affect their perception in another area. For a long time now it's been clear that while this team will more than likely make the playoffs, they are far from being among the league's elite. While that gap in MLS is not huge, it is big enough to be fully visible.
Toronto FC are a better side than the 4-1 loss that they suffered at Sporting Park, but it was the climax of a winless three match set against defending MLS Cup Champion Sporting Kansas City. Two first half penalties from Dom Dwyer gave SKC a lead that they would never relinquish as Soony Saad and CJ Sapong only made the result more difficult to swallow. Gilberto had the lone goal for Toronto.
Gilberto also may have been the lone player to show up, as he is fully displaying why everyone was so reluctant to give up on him as positive player for this team. He is now only three goals behind Maximiliano Urruti, and only twenty behind his lofty preseason target. His goal on this occasion was nothing but class, and a healthy dose of confidence that has blasted its way into his game.
Bright Dike returned from a longterm injury suffered in preseason and did not look bad in the least, his right foot looked good, so good that its cleat ended up in the back of the net, sadly not accompanied by the ball. But beyond that there is very little that can be spun as positive for the club.
In a tactical blunder by Ryan Nelsen, Jackson ended up at right back in place of the injured Warren Creavalle, where he looked completely out of place. Even with the fact that Bradley Orr was injured surfacing after the match, it is incredibly surprising that Ashtone Morgan wasn't given an opportunity. In the end, Jackson had a poor match at both ends of the field: giving up and penalty and selfishly failing to convert a 3-on-1.
The tactical blunder did not end there, as Toronto were completely outclassed in the coaching department again by Peter Vermes. In some ways Ryan Nelsen deserves credit for playing an offensive lineup that were really built to go for it against SKC, the ambition should be commended. But in the midfield his visions of a counterattacking side fell completely flat against a composed and organized opponent.
The midfield was almost non-existent, and was completely overpowered by the pressure of Sporting KC. After some very solid recent performances from Michael Bradley, he returned to the poor form that has largely accompanied his game since the World Cup break. Dominic Oduro, besides a nice setup on the Gilberto goal, Collen Warner and Jonathan Osorio were not much better, if at all.
Doneil Henry had the kind of game that is hard to quantify as either good or bad. On one hand, he gave up a horrendous penalty as he has been known to do with some frequency. But other than that, a lot of those very same risky challenges landed perfectly and likely saved this result from behind a whole lot worse. The issue is that there is no tangible way to tell if the successful defensive plays that Henry made would have ended up in goals, the only tangible thing is that he gave away a goal via conceded penalty.
Either way, the backline for Toronto is really starting to cost them results where it was once preserving or on rare occasion earning them earlier in the year. With news that Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom will not be available for the next match the situation continues to get worse for Toronto. Yet another defensive move might be required if this epidemic persists.
The last time these two clubs met there was talk of playoffs, and the possibility of these two teams making a great pair in the Eastern Conference final. After this match, and the recent stretch of matches, Toronto have a long way to go before they can start dreaming about those heights.