TFC searches for answers after another late-game collapse

Toronto FC has dropped seven points in the dying minutes of games so far in 2013, the latest coming at home against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
TORONTO - Despite an almost entirely new cast of characters, the ending seems to remain the same for Toronto FC.

On a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon at BMO Field, the club allowed an 89th minute goal which gave the visiting New York Red Bulls a 2-1 win. It was just the latest in a string of late-game collapses that has seen TFC drop seven points in 2013 and many more last year.

It's enough to make one feel like the club is curse to play out the same storyline game in and game out, although head coach Ryan Nelsen doesn't see it that way.

"It's not a jinx, it's not a hoax or anything like that," Nelsen told reporters after the match. "We need personalities to go and clear and win the ball. Strong personalities who you want in the back."

While it wasn't the most subtle of jabs at his defensive players, the Kiwi gaffer reeled back his disappointment by saying that the entire team needs to take responsibility for the lapses that seem to have become a defining characteristic for the club over the past year-and-a-half.

"It was a disappointing performance from us, from the first minute to the 90th," the coach said. "It was by far our worst performance and it was a real shame because the guys have been doing well, we've been moving forward and working well in training."

Nelsen included himself among those who need to step up and take responsibility, but he admitted that once the game is one there is only so much the technical staff can do. At some point, he said, the players will have to demonstrate that they truly want to win.

"This is seven points we've thrown away now," Nelsen said. "Seven points would have put us at 14, which would have put us right in a really nice spot. And again these guys have got to want to be good. They've got to want the responsibility."

Team captain Darren O'Dea showed similar concern, although he refused to place blame on his coaches.

"It's down to the players on the pitch and maybe a little bit of mental toughness when it comes down to it," O'Dea said. "Maybe we need to really, really analyze where things are going wrong, because you can't just keep putting that [down] to just another one and it'll not happen again. It's happening. It happened through last year."

The Irishman took things a step further, saying that until the team figures out how to close games that maybe TFC is reaping exactly what it sows.

"I hate saying that we should be a lot higher in the league than we are, but that's a waste of words really, you are where you deserve to be and we're just where we deserve to be," O'Dea said. "If you take away the last two [or] three minutes of games, we're probably near the top.

"But the last three are just as important as any minute in the game, so it's something we need to put right."