Matches typically played over two legs such as in the Champions League include the away goal rule. Away points in league matches have more value. Teams are supposed to win their home matches and there’s no shame in a point on the road. This is what we’re constantly told yet we don’t always remember this when our team is on the road.
The Toronto FC started their 2015 campaign on the road for seven straight road matches, which included quite arguably two poorly timed off weeks. They’ve played all but one so far and will have their home opener on May 10, two months after the MLS season began. In those six they’ve won two and lost four. In the two wins they’ve looked quite good and in control. The losses on the other hand were not as pretty but that was not for a lack of excitement and intensity. Even in the loss in the second week to Columbus had controversy and gave the club something to build off of. Their third match against Real Salt Lake had a late lapse of concentration but was an amazingly hard fought effort in a difficult place to get a result. The match in Chicago could have easily turned into a result, if not a win, if not for some poor defending after being up 2-1 with about 30 minutes left to play. The disaster in Dallas was one we all may have missed by the end of it but Giovinco showed just how powerful an acquisition he is.
Have the Toronto FC done well? That can be argued six ways to next Saturday. Let’s look at the numbers, because they don’t lie.
In the MLS, teams that make the playoffs generally earn about one point away per match. Don’t believe me? Take a look at below which are the away records in 2014 for each club. The highlighted teams qualified for the playoffs.
Only the Portland Timbers had an away points per match above one and didn’t make the playoffs while the Toronto FC ironically had an away points per match of exactly one. Sporting Kansas City and Portland were the only two teams in the league that earned more points away than at home as well but only by one single point. Every other team had a much better home record than their away record.
How does 2015 look so far? Not much different than 2014.
Toronto is right in the mix of it. Dead center just like in 2014. They’ve also produced a lot of goals, 1.7 per match, which is always great to see. Unfortunately the team has let in one more than it’s put in the net. A lot could be said about the defensive results but that is another story for another time.
There’s an old joke that asks heterosexual men whether they’d rather be with a woman with big fake breasts or with real and reasonably sized breasts. After struggling a little they inevitably answer they want a women with big real breasts. And that’s every Toronto FC supporter it seems of late. We all want the flash and dash and to never lose. Unfortunately that’s not always possible, especially on the road. There was talk of double digit points going into the home opener which really would have been an achievement. Expectations for supporters should have been made to be exactly that. That points on the road are hard to come by and to value each one. Toronto has done exactly what they need to do so far. Six points in six matches. What does it matter if it’s six draws, or one win and three draws, or any other combination? Keep your eye on the prize because it simply doesn’t.
In the end it’s all about perception. If the Toronto FC earn a result in Philadelphia on May 2 they’ll be at or above the one point per game goal. Now it’s the team’s job to earn consistent results at home or else those road points will be for not. At that point we can pull out our hair, grab our pitch forks, and swear to the Soccer Gods. For now, let’s celebrate our successful road trip to start the season and be happy that seven road matches are almost behind us.