In the wake of a 3-0 dismantling by New England, the Toronto head coach expressed unhappiness with the pre-game offerings by his team's general manager.
TORONTO — It was a carnival atmosphere outside BMO Field on Saturday, but within the stadium it was nothing but despair for Toronto FC.
The Reds were dispatched 3-0 by New England, and it came all too easily for the visiting side as the Revolution led from the second minute thanks to frequent turnovers and lacksadaisical defending.
It was arguably the worst performance by Toronto this season, but the real distress came after the match as TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen communicated his displeasure with the way one of his bosses put "pressure" on the team ahead into the match.
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Specifically, Nelsen targeted comments made earlier this week by general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, who called on the players "to take it up a notch" in the midst of a tightening Eastern Conference playoff race.
"It affected the guys," Nelsen said bluntly. "What we do at Toronto FC is we keep it in-house. Everything we do, we keep inside the four walls."
The sophomore bench boss was adamant in his defence of his players, saying that everything they do on the field is a result of what he and his coaching staff decide in the training sessions and pre-game planning.
"If you are going to criticize anybody today, it's me," he said. "I picked the team, I try and play a certain style. Criticize me, leave the players out of it.
"But unfortunately, things happened and it didn't help."
Despite the loss, Nelsen stressed that TFC is still in great standing to make the postseason for the first time, even though the result sees New England into third place in the Eastern Conference with Toronto dropping to fourth for the first time in months.
"I'm not panicking, nobody's panicking," he insisted. "Whatever's been said from anybody at TFC, from the coaches and the players, we're more than confident in what we're gonna do. We've got 10 more games."
He added: "We write this one off—this is football. We're still in a lovely position. We move on and we've got a very important game [at Phildelphia] on Wednesday."
Even with New England joining the likes of Columbus, New York, Philadelphia and Houston as teams that have gained ground on TFC over the past several weeks, Nelsen refused to call Saturday's match a high-pressure affair, and he left little room for acknowledgement that the next few weeks could go a long way in determining Toronto's playoff fate.
"I've won this league, played in it for four years, been in the Premier League for 10 years, played in a World Cup [and an] Olympics," Nelsen said. "I've played in some pretty hot-pressure games. The one thing that I do know is that this was not one of them."