Commerce City, CO – Toronto FC is winless in its last six MLS games, and owns just one win in eight league matches this season.
But head coach Ryan Nelsen is hoping that a terrible result outside of league play this past week will spark a turnaround in his team, which travels to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday to face the Colorado Rapids.
TFC took a 2-0 lead into the second leg of its Canadian Championship semifinal with the Montreal Impact, but sustained a heavy 6-0 defeat in midweek in the return leg as the club was bounced from the competition.
"As I just said to the guys, there are certain points in the season that are turning points. Sometimes they can be a win at home and sometimes they can be a heavy loss away," Nelsen said at his post-match press conference. "Nobody would have thought that this loss was coming. We do have a really young team and sometimes these things will happen. It happens to every team."
Toronto could start by tightening up its defense at the end of games, which has been guilty of yielding late goals that have cost the club points.
Last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Red Bull New York came on a late header from Tim Cahill, while the two previous matches saw TFC concede an equalizer in the 89th minute or later in draws with both Philadelphia and Houston.
"It's not a jinx or anything like that," Nelsen said of his team's struggles late in games. "It's just that we need personalities to go and clear the ball and win the ball, strong personalities in the back who want it. Every successful team in the world has one or two defenders that the ball seems to go to like a magnet to their heads because they want it so much."
Colorado has earned seven points from its last four games, but the biggest problem for head coach Oscar Pareja has been keeping his players healthy.
Pareja has dealt with a lengthy injury list for much of the season, and while he has recently seen a few of those players return to action, a key member of the midfield went down in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Houston.
Midfielder Hendry Thomas has started all nine of Colorado's games so far this season, but he will miss the next few weeks because of a hamstring injury, leaving the coach with another void to fill.
"As much as we hate to lose players, and a player like Hendry who is that important in the team, everybody is working hard to make the best out of that opportunity," Pareja said. "Every player brings you different things. With Hendry, the way he takes the ball back from the other team, the many balls he recovers, that's his game. But it is what it is, and other players have to come and do that job."