Toronto FC suffers first loss of the season, 3-0 against Real Salt Lake
Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 04:00 am
SANDY, Utah - Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar's right knee told the story as he sat in front of his locker late Saturday night.
A round of ice and a warm shower had reduced the swelling to about the size of a tennis ball, the lump a clear indication of the physical toll the 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake took on Cesar and his teammates.
Just how much of a mental toll the previously unbeaten Reds endured by the humbling defeat will be revealed in the coming days.
"We just have to be honest with ourselves to know there's still a lot of work to do," said midfielder Michael Bradley. "Tonight is a good reminder of that."
Toronto allowed two goals in the first 28 minutes and chased the scoreboard the rest of the night. Doneil Henry's takedown of Alvaro Saborio led to a penalty kick in the 11th minute, and the game's first goal.
Luis Gil sent a deflection past Cesar with his left foot 17 minutes later to put the Reds (2-0-1) in unfamiliar territory for the first time on the young season.
"It was uncharacteristic of us in terms of goals we gave away," Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen said. "We dug ourselves a bit of a hole… A lot of what we did was very good, but the goals we gave up were not us. That was the real disappointing thing about it."
Both teams set the tone early in a physical contest. Bodies collided and players lay strewn on the turf as play continued for long stretches in the opening half.
Cesar collided with Real Salt Lake forward Olmes Garcia midway through the second half, which resulted in the goalkeeper's swollen knee.
By the time Saborio scored again in the 55th minute, the Reds were ready to get out of the altitude and regroup.
"We got to just try to keep our heads up," said forward Jermain Defoe, who left the game in the 61st minute with an injured hamstring that he said he "tweaked" in the first half. "It's always hard when you lose the game, because we've been playing so well and you come here confident and lose a game like that."
Nelsen said he took Defoe out as a precautionary measure, but downplayed the injury.
U.S. Men's National coach Jurgen Klinsmann was in attendance to watch Bradley and three RSL players who will report to camp Sunday in Phoenix, Ariz.
Toronto nearly made a game of it early in the second half, but three scoring chances in a five-minute span all missed the mark against goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who recorded his 110th MLS shutout.
Bradley hit the left post in the 54th minute, and Defoe and Henry narrowly missed wide and high on good opportunities as the Reds failed in their attempt to start a season 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Just another sign it wasn't going to be Toronto's night.
"When you start the game and go down 1-0 early, and not too long after, go down 2-0, it makes a difficult game even more difficult," Bradley said. "We tried in the second half to get to 2-1 and see if we could really push things."