MLS: Toronto FC 1, Revolution 1
TORONTO — Quentin Westberg learned a long time ago that goalkeepers need to have a short memory.
So after gifting an 86th-minute goal with a rare gaffe in a 1-1 tie at New England on the weekend, the French-born American is looking ahead, not back.
Gustavo Bou's low shot from the edge of the penalty box skidded under Westberg, adding to Toronto's history of disappointment at Gillette Stadium. TFC's career record in New England is an ugly 2-10-5.
Westberg, 31, has not shied away from Saturday's error.
"It's a position where it's all about responsibility," the even-keeled 'keeper said after training Wednesday. "And yes I take full responsibility for this."
But he is not letting it fester.
"I'm happy I'm wiser," he said. "And it's a lot easier to handle when you've been around the block a little bit ... It's the same bad feeling, but it stayed in Foxborough."
Coach Greg Vanney, meanwhile, sees a bigger picture with Westberg. He also remembers the saves Westberg has made, including an acrobatic stop on Carlos Gil in New England.
Criticizing the 'keeper is "easy pickings," said Vanney.
Westberg, who won the starting job from incumbent Alex Bono after arriving from France this season, is the last line of defence. But he has not got much help in recent instances.
Against Montreal in the game before New England, Westberg was beaten by Bojan Krkic's long-distance strike in Toronto's 2-1 win. TFC had seven bodies behind the ball but failed to close out the former Barcelona attacking midfielder, allowing him the time and space to work his magic.
The week before in a 2-2 tie at Columbus, a long looping through ball found Pedro Santos behind the Toronto defence and the Portuguese winger's volley beat Westberg. David Accam's tying goal came after an errant Jozy Altidore pass allowed the speedy Ghanaian forward a free path down the right flank.
"Some of these goals have to do with team things," Vanney conceded.
Westberg's ability to distribute the ball has also helped Toronto change its game, allowing it to play out of the back. Toronto succeeds when it moves the ball quickly and Westberg often helps kickstart its acceleration with his ability to beat the press.
"It's just not so simple as 'Oh, he didn't make a save,' and therefore he shouldn't be in (there)," said Vanney.
On the injury front, Toronto fullback Justin Morrow (quad) is "highly questionable" for Saturday's game at expansion FC Cincinnati (5-20-3). With Richie Laryea in camp with Canada, that means Vanney has holes to fill at fullback.
Brazil's Auro and Ashtone Morgan are available with midfielder Nick DeLeon and centre back Chris Mavinga also options if needed.
Altidore, who also missed the New England game with a quad issue, is expected to be ready Saturday. DeLeon, who has been playing through a nagging hip injury, should also be available after receiving a cortisone injection.
Saturday's game is the first of seven in 22 days, including the two-legged Canadian Championship final against Montreal. Toronto (10-10-8) will play away league matches at Cincinnati, New York City FC, Los Angeles FC and Chicago during that stretch with a home game against Colorado.
The team, which currently holds down the seventh and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, will then conclude the regular season Oct. 6 at home to Columbus.
In the wake of assistant coach Robin Fraser leaving to take over Colorado, former defender Jason Hernandez is helping pick up some of the slack on the coaching staff for the rest of the season. Hernandez ended his 14-year MLS playing career in April, moving into the front office as TFC's first manager of player engagement.
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