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Symptoms of Past Failures Sink Toronto FC against New York City FC

Whether its time to worry about whether or not they make the playoffs or not, it is time to worry about the state of this team as the regular season draws to a close.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

They labelled it as a soccer game, but it might as well have been a rehab session. Both Toronto FC and New York City were entering tonight's game in fragments, both looking for a win to get themselves back on their feet.

After three straight losses, New York were looking to pick up the shambles that has been their season and make one last run at the playoffs. Toronto were looking to avoid three straight losses of their own, and the evaporation of their chances at a playoff home spot.

On the small field at Yankee stadium, there was no place to hide: one of these teams was going to be exposed, the other earning crucial points and more importantly momentum.

For New York City FC the match, a 2-0 home win, was therapy on so many levels. Earlier in the month coach Jason Kreis was calling out his players, questioning whether or not they truly wanted to play for his team.

Reading between the lines, that question was posed to his older European players: the one's who have already been there, done that and don't seem all that interesting in continuing to do the latter.

Tonight they responded, taking a slight step down the hill everyone keeps saying they are over. Frank Lampard scored his first Major League Soccer goal and really should have had a second. His goal was created by Andrea Pirlo, who also had an assist later in the match.

With the win New York moved just one point out of the playoffs, and while the odds of a postseason appearance aren't in their favour, this was a glimmer of hope in a place where there had been none for a long time.

For Toronto FC, on the other hand, the one thing that has kept them afloat this entire season is starting to sink along with the rest of the ship.

The club has only scored two goals in their last three games, the fewest they have scored in any three games this season.

The last time they experienced a drought like this, at the end of June when they failed to score against both DC United and the LA Galaxy, they exploded for four goals. Those goals meant the only result they would earn against NYCFC all season, a 4-4 draw.

Goals couldn't save them today, and neither could their defending. For the 19th time this season the team allowed the first goal of the match. The second goal they conceded meant they have let in seven goals in their last three games.

But it wasn't the numbers game today that made Toronto look poor, we learned on Sunday that numbers can be deceiving. It was the general demeanour of the team, the lack of fight.

In both of their last two losses Toronto has earned praise for their performances, both called valiant efforts despite the results. In this one they resembled teams from yester-years, which is never a good sign.

Most concerning was how close in resemblance this team looked to last year's edition, the one that crashed into the final hurdle and missed the playoffs. There was the same lack of unity, the same obvious frustration.

TFC are already well ahead of last year's schedule when it come to their playoff position. One more win would give Toronto FC a 70 per cent chance of making the playoffs, two are their spot is all but locked up.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that at this rate Toronto FC are not in a playoff position based on their own merit, they are still in a playoff position because everyone behind them is so poor.

As a franchise Toronto FC have made progress this season, but as they get closer and closer to finally making the playoffs the same symptoms that have always held them back are flaring up again.