Looking to extend its three-game league winning streak, Toronto FC instead delivered a listless performance and fell 2-0 to the visiting Houston Dynamo.
For Toronto FC, its three-game run in MLS play was brought to a screeching halt on Saturday by a Houston Dynamo side that was in even better form.
"I think you've got to hold your hand up," TFC head coach Paul Mariner told reporters after the match. "I think that Houston were a much better side today."
Though the scoreline agrees with Mariner's assessment, Houston didn't do much to beat a sluggish Toronto side 2-0 at BMO Field. Rather, it was the Dynamo's commitment to the things that Mariner has preached in his short time at the helm with the Reds - good team organization and finding ways to make the most of the opportunities presented - that pushed the visiting side ahead.
To that end, Toronto had no one to blame but itself for not making Houston have to deal with much pressure, said striker Ryan Johnson.
"We just made it more difficult for ourselves," Johnson said. "We've just got to move the ball a little bit faster and be more dangerous. We were too predictable going forward today."
Indeed, TFC seemed content to repeatedly drift lazy balls into Houston's defensive end, a poor strategy against a backline known for its aerial dominance. In addition, the Reds remained compact and attacked down the middle of the pitch, all but abandoning the wide play that has served the side so well in recent weeks.
Johnson felt that the team as a whole ran out of ideas against a good Dynamo team that outworked the host throughout the afternoon.
"There needed to be more fight today. I thought there just wasn't enough fight on our part and we made it too easy for Houston today," he said.
Toronto will need to regroup quickly, as it will host C.D. Aguila in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League opener on Wednesday night.