Soccer

Wileman: TFC's Nelsen deserves to celebrate Saturday's win

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Luke Wileman
7/29/2013 1:46:54 PM
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The relief was there for all to see. Just over a year since their last MLS win at BMO Field, Toronto FC finally ended the drought in dramatic fashion on Saturday, and the touchline reaction from head coach Ryan Nelsen was one of unbridled joy.

It was the human equivalent of shaking a can of pop and then opening it to spray everywhere, as Nelsen and his coaching staff celebrated following Andrew Wiedeman's stoppage time winner against Columbus Crew.

Nelsen deserved that moment. In a season that has brought more challenges than successes for the rookie head coach, his team has been on the wrong end of moments like Saturday on far too many occasions. This time it was Toronto FC winning the game in the end. The fact the comeback unfolded amidst storm clouds and torrential rain added to the drama of the moment. As the crowd left BMO Field drenched but smiling, it seemed as if some of the gloom surrounding the club had been lifted.

For much of the match, it was a familiar story. Toronto FC were unable to show the creativity needed to find a way back into a game they were losing. Joe Bendik has had an excellent season, but the Reds' goalkeeper was beaten too easily by Dominic Oduro's long-range shot that fizzed in at the front post just before half-time to give Columbus the lead.

For 70 minutes, there wasn't a great deal in the game. However, Nelsen's substitutions worked well and a change of role for Jonathan Osorio also played a big role in his team winning the game. The young Canadian has been a bright light for Toronto FC playing on the right side of midfield this season but he was able to influence the match much more when he was moved into a central attacking midfield role. It was Osorio who scored Toronto's leveling goal in the 87th minute, getting in a good position and finishing well for his fourth goal of the season.

The win gives everyone connected with the club a much needed boost, but it doesn't hide the fact that the squad is still far away from the quality necessary to challenge for the playoff places in Major League Soccer.

The talk about major additions has been ongoing for some time now but Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne told me on Saturday that they are on course to add some significant new signings before the transfer window closes in a couple of weeks' time.

Payne said the club is making progress in adding both a Designated Player and a Young Designated Player. He also tells me the club hopes to announce an additional signing within the coming days of a Designated Player who will join the club in January.

Until the two goals on Saturday, Toronto FC has been struggling to find the net, being shut out in five of the six previous matches. So attacking help is the most pressing need. I understand the club is hoping to add an attacking midfielder and two forwards as well as cover at full back.

Ryan Nelsen said on Saturday that, in an ideal world, he would like to bring in four new players before the transfer window closes, but he knows as well as anyone, he is living in a world that is far from ideal. Much has been said about plans for the future, but now it's a case of wait-and-see as to how effective the clubs management can be before the transfer window is closed.

Ryan Nelsen (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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