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Gutting It Out

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There will always be trials & tribulations, what matters is how Toronto FC reacts to the recent disappointments

The struggle matters almost as much as the result
The struggle matters almost as much as the result
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

For a third straight week, a controversial refereeing decision proved costly for Toronto FC as they fell 1-0 in Colorado, a match many would have circled on the calendar as a winnable one.

First there was the David Villa handball that allowed him to put NYC FC ahead by two – not to mention Tommy McNamara's penalty 'win' moments earlier (it was definitely a pen, but he did sell it with relish); then there was the non-call on Brad Davis, bundling over Justin Morrow on the edge of the box to steal possession and swoop in for the decisive goal; finally, a pair of calls went against TFC in Colorado: first, the two yellow cards in quick succession to Benoit Cheyrou and finally a blown off-side call that allowed Luis Solignac to break in behind the back-line and score what proved to be the game-winner.

The club, and their fans, have a right to be aggrieved at refereeing decisions thus far through 2016.

But a large part of navigating the trials and tribulations of a long season is overcoming just such obstacles. How one goes about confronting disappointment is crucial in determining how the season will play out.

Over the course of the year, there will always be struggle – that's the point of playing it out, to see what team best survives the ten months. Otherwise, why not just have the pundits crown a champion based on off-season moves (hmm, that actually doesn't sound like a bad idea...).

Injuries, form, and yes, refereeing decisions, not to mention the opponent – don't forget about them, are all factors that a team must contend with throughout.

One thing that can definitely be said about this year's rendition of TFC, it is that they are a much more sturdy foe than, perhaps, any season past. Allowing a mere four goals through four matches, showing a measure of depth in lineup choices, all while playing away from home, is worth celebrating.

If anything, it is goal-scoring that has let them down.

Consider this: last season the club conceded and allowed 1.7 goals per match; this season both numbers are down to 1.0. Conceding 0.7 less-per makes it easier to win – one needs less goals, but conversely, scoring 0.7 less has the opposite effect, making it harder to win. In effect, the two drifts virtually cancel out.

Be that as it may, not conceding is still the better long term prospect. With a player like Sebastian Giovinco in the lineup, who only needs a moment or two of brilliance to turn a match, it will always be better to stay in games, setting the stage for him to do his thing.

The question going into this next stretch of the season is just how the team will respond to these repeated disappointments.

Does Toronto hang their heads, throw up their hands, and cry foul? Or do they shake-off such cruel blows, doubling down with even more determination, and bring such passions to the pitch?

Time will tell.

And there is no better way to get back on track than the next few weeks provides: a series of difficult Eastern Conference matches (and a trip to Portland) before finally partaking in the home opener at the start of May.

Halfway through the road-trip there are questions emerging. Now is the time to answer them.