Tactical breakdown: TFC badly struggling in defensive transitions

Defending against counter-attacks has been a problem for Toronto FC since last season, but there's no easy fix.

Tactical breakdown: TFC badly struggling in defensive transitions

Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Chicago Fire was Toronto FC’s 28th MLS match in a row without a clean sheet. But that eye-opening stat is more egregious if we go back in time, as TFC has kept just one clean sheet in their previous 50 league matches.

If there was still any doubt, those defensive issues extend beyond the goalkeeper or who starts on the Reds' back line. In fact, the midweek defeat to the Fire was a microcosm of the past two seasons.

Both of Jhon Durán’s goals for Chicago were scored off counter-attacks. That’s been a problem for TFC since the 2021 campaign. Only the L.A. Galaxy has conceded more expected goals (xG) via transitions than the Reds, per American Soccer Analysis. It’s also allowed 13 shots and four goals in those situations, the second-most in MLS in each category.

TFC's 2021 numbers are similar, too, so it’s going to take more than Lorenzo Insigne – and other attacking signings – to turn around this campaign.

Here’s a breakdown of Toronto FC’s defensive transitions, where it’s going wrong and potential solutions.