End may be near for Toronto FC's playoff hopes
Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, right, controls the ball as New York Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis applies pressure during the first half of a soccer game, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, September 23, 2018 11:11PM EDT
TORONTO - A 2-0 weekend loss at the New York Red Bulls has left Toronto FC's playoff hopes hanging by a thread. The coup de grace could come this week for the MLS champions.
Ninth-place Toronto (8-15-6, 30 points) is 10 points out of the sixth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with five games remaining (at home to New England, Vancouver and Atlanta and away to D.C. United and Montreal).
Seventh-place D.C. United (9-11-8, 35 points) and No. 8 New England (8-10-11, 35 points) are also chasing sixth-place Montreal (12-14-4, 40). Fifth-place Philadelphia (14-12-4, 46 points) is probably clear of the chasers.
The FiveThirtyEight analytical website gives Toronto a two per cent chance of making the post-season. A number that could soon reach zero.
A Montreal win at D.C. United coupled with a Toronto loss to visiting New England on Saturday would leave TFC 13 points back of sixth spot with only four games - and a maximum 12 points - remaining.
A Montreal win and Toronto draw would also end TFC's post-season hopes. That combination would leave Toronto 12 points behind and while TFC could earn that many points, it would be second-best to the Impact in the first tiebreaker (wins).
Saturday's loss to the Red Bulls proved to be another disappointing chapter to a star-crossed season.
“It's frustrating because the guys worked hard today. They played well today. They deserved more out of it today but that's the way our season has been,” Toronto coach Greg Vanney told reporters after the game. “Our performances at time haven't been bad but we've always managed to find a way to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
While Toronto made it to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League and won the Canadian Championship in 2018, its league campaign has been woeful.
Toronto has won back-to-back games just once in the league this season (and that was over lowly Chicago). It has been blanked seven times while posting just three clean sheets.
TFC is a league-worst 0-14-1 when conceding the first goal. And it is on pace to concede a franchise-worst 66 goals and finish with 35 points, the fewest since 2013 when the team went 6-17-11 for 29 points.
The was no immediate word on the health of star forward Jozy Altidore, who limped off in the 48th minute with an ankle injury Saturday. Strike partner Sebastian Govinco did not make the trip due to a calf issue.
Toronto captain Michael Bradley tried to sound positive.
“It's MLS at the end of the season and anybody can beat anybody,” he said after the game. “Teams can go on some crazy runs. Obviously all we can do is try to take care of our business over this last stretch and see if a few things can't go our way to make it interesting.”