Toronto FC’s 2-1 loss at BMO Field on Wednesday night has the squad out of the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season, and head coach Paul Mariner is not a happy man.
An early header from Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez followed by an incredible shot from veteran striker Chris Rolfe gave the Chicago Fire a 2-0 lead at the half. And despite Eric Hassli’s goal in the second half, the deficit was too much to overcome for TFC.
To add insult to injury, the attendance of 14,623 was the lowest at BMO Field this MLS season, a number that reflects the dark times that Toronto FC is currently experiencing.
As well as being eliminated from the post-season, TFC is now 0-6-2 in its last eight MLS matches and haven’t won in almost two months.
Things are certainly not looking good, and in his post-match press conference, Mariner lashed out at his team’s performance.
“We’re at the bottom of the table, we haven’t won in two months apart from the Champions League game,” Mariner said. “And that’s the kind of performance you give as a group? There is absolutely no excuse for that first half.”
Mariner also had a lot to say about the way Toronto FC reacted after conceding the loss.
“My biggest concern is we decided to play when we went a goal down. And that seems to be a little bit of a theme at the present moment.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been a professional football [player] but it’s easier to play when you’re losing. Much easier because the pressure’s off.”
In a rant where he listed his club’s stadium along with classic venues from the Premier League, Mariner wasn’t afraid to discuss the lack of effort he’s seeing from certain players on the squad.
“You can come up with all the excuses in the world. International call ups, injuries to key players, and so forth. But I was brought up in an environment where you were dying to get your opportunity to play at such a great place as BMO or Old Trafford or Highbury.
“And when your chance came, you made sure you stayed in the team and you made sure your manager couldn’t drop you. If you don’t fight for the right to play, if you’re not fighting for your own personal pride, first and foremost, that’s a problem.”
The English coach believes that perhaps the status of the club is overwhelming for some of TFC’s current crop.
“Privately, I’ve been likening this place to other big time cities because there’s a lot of media attention and other people looking at us. Maybe some players can’t handle it. You get players that play for Ipswich Townand go and play at Liverpool or United and Arsenal and swallow it. Some of them go on to greatness.
“It’s a bit of a conundrum to me at the present moment because if I’m playing in front of this crowd and this city with the backdrop and all there is, I’d be ripping it up. But that’s me.”
With seriousness tone, Mariner finished the post-match conference by insisting he won’t waste a second in changing the squad’s mentality.
“I know that the jobs you guys are in, you want to be the best you can possibly be in your field of work. I don’t see that in some of the players at Toronto Football Club. And the mentality will change starting tomorrow morning.”