Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Barely friendly TFCll - 1 (Osorio) Sunderland - 2 (Defoe)

I don't want to give this friendly game with Sutherland more attention than it deserves. I watched the game on youtube and thanks must go to TFC for putting up a stream and having a play by play. I watch, I blog.

 TFC looked competitive for the first 25 minutes with a strong enough starting 11. Sunderland seemed to be in an ill temper. I forget who wiped out Jackson early on, but it was Larson who got a yellow card for a rugby tackle on Lovitz's head. I felt that Lovitz got a yellow for trying to push him off.

Vanney was smart to limit his starter's minutes and had a change of 8 players in the midst of the first half.

So by the time that Jermain Defoe (remember him?) scored his two goals he had been playing against TFCII (plus Osorio, Creavalle and Morgan) for more than 25 minutes.

Bono made some strong saves. Manella and Chapman play well together. Glad it's over and done with.

Hello Columbus on Saturday.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Summer heat burst TFC 2 Philly Union 1

Is it just me or does the future seem shady?

Put aside that it was a hot and humid Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC only matched the temperature with some scorching play for a short stretch of the game. TFC had that first half spell where they scored their two goals and seemed capable of scoring more. Delgado from Giovinco and then Altidore heading it to Giovinco. Gio took the blast of the shot AND beat three defenders to the rebound to tuck it away. The temperature did not cool down much, but TFC did. There were sporadic bursts of attack, but the lack of Bradley had it's affect. Not that Cheyrou and Delgado were not superb in the middle of the middle...but the threat that Bradley poses was missing in the barren second half.

Morgan and Osorio played solid games. I am not always happy that Morgan seems to have a green light to play as a winger and Osorio has to mop up from time to time. The two do connect and combine well. Morrow seems to struggle with the right back spot. Or is the attacking obstacles of Warner and then Jackson at fault? Joe Bendik was back in net. His one goal allowed was a big improvement over the four allowed by Konopka in NYC last Saturday, but his distribution skills never seem to mature.

I don't mean to be too critical of Coach Vanney, he makes some good decisions and presently has the team in second place in the East.
Yet, I do get frustrated at some perceived trends, such as delayed second half subs. You can see that the team is wilting in the heat, but Vanney is always slow (imho) to make changes. He seems to have a schedule for subs that seems too rigid, pre-set and never reacting to the tempo of the game . He needs to take control of the game and the team by trying something different. Two subs at once might be a start.
Walking away from the heat of the stadium I would say the present state of this blogger is cautious optimism. The schedule only gives TFC one home MLS game in July before a deluge in August. 6 road games, 10 home games is the remainder of the year. I had to wonder why neither team seems to have a light coloured third shirt, both teams looked uncomfortable in dark colours. What happened to kit that was mostly white with stripes of red? Now it seems only all red or all onyx.  You wonder why.....
Cautious optimism...

Sunday, July 12, 2015

NYCFC 4 TFC 4 new chapter in Vanney coach textbook "point on the road"

A tie on the road is a result to embraced. When TFC are missing Bradley and Altidore (plus Morgan and Osorio) a tie on the road is wonderful. Or, if you shake your head and recall the drubbing last Saturday in Los Angeles, a tie on the road is a great change of direction. And yet....Giovinco scores a hat-trick, sets up the fourth goal and everything victorious seemed possible. Things seemed bleak indeed around the time that Giovinco caroomed his first penalty kick off the post in the early going. Toronto was already down 2 and nothing was going well in the Toronto end. Chris Konopka got a hand (two?) to the Villa free kick, but it still went in. The penalty kick from Villa was saved by Konopka, but the rebound eventually hit Perquis' hand and went in. A repeat of the Los Angeles experience seemed to be looming. The remainder of this report could all be ravings about Giovinco. He is a brilliant attacker. He now owns the first TFC hat trick in MLS play. Well deserved.
I have to salute a few players who usually raise my ire....Warner, Jackson and Findley are the trio I have in mind. Gio's goal that was set up by a long probing pass from Warner and a classy back heel from Jackson was the moment that TFC fans probably threw their collective despair out the window. The cross from Findley that Gio turned into his third goal was also a great play . I rarely give credit to refs, but Unkel called a fair game, was not afraid to award penalty kicks and allowed the game to be a true contest. The contrast with the foul fest that NYCFC bestowed upon TFC in their visit to TOronto in June was remarkable. Maybe foul fest is not the best description for the previous game, that ref seemed blind to calling anything.

The nail biting section of the game really kicked into gear when Perquis left the game with an injury.
 A back four of Lovitz, Hagglund, Zavaletta and Morrow is not anyone's idea of superstars, but the job was done and the point was gained.  Message was given - greater depth required.....
A mention of Benoit Cheyrou has to be made as well. Cool and calm on the ball, well positioned and tough when defending, he would be worthy of top billing if the team did not have hat trick Gio running the show.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

LA Galaxy 4 TFC 0 or the things we do for love...

That old pop song (by 10cc) popped into my head as I trudged off to bed early Sunday morning. I had watched the entire drubbing of TFC by LA Galaxy. In this multi-media world I had also followed along on Twitter and visited the RPB forum to capture the TFC zeitgeist throughout the night. Wow, you can watch Warren Creavalle make defending mistakes and still wonder why some are so quick to hate him. He's a solid MLS utility player. Perhaps his starts at right back for TFC this year have earned him a spot on the bench, but he has

The things we do for love was both the tune and the sentiment after watching such a one sided game from the pacific time zone. I had missed out on the DC United game (attended Solid Sound Festival - see previous post - passion outside of TFC world begins with Wilco). So I felt that watching the LA game was rather important for getting back onto the blogging track. You can tell I am fully into the boomer category when I write of staying up late on a Saturday night as an effort and a sacrifice. On the soccer side then, I had low expectations. Missing Bradley and Altidore just seemed too big a hurdle to overcome against Los Angeles.
I wish the Vanney brave enough to give starts to Delgado and Chapman was also involved in the playing time decisions for Jordan Hamilton. Why Hamilton was not given 20 minutes is a puzzle.
Seba Giovinco was looking lonelier and lonelier as the game wore on.
The road ahead is away to New York (for an ankle kick fest), home to Philly, away to Columbus to close out July. Stay tuned.

Sub Robbie Findley for Luke Moore for actual starting 11

The trading/transfer window is about to open (July 8th?) and I figure it is a good time to review the squad.
TFC keepers are all keepers in my books (unless a crazy multi-player trade involves Konopka or Bendik).
TFC defenders are a curious mixture of players all very new to one another, so expecting a cohesive approach might have been asking to much in these early months of season 2015. However improvements are required for the tough months ahead. Caldwell and Hagglund and Simonin have all been forgotten of late. I think it is a touch unfair to be critical of the central pairing of Perquis and Zavaletta. One is learning the league and one is learning the position and they have done well considering. I think that trading for a veteran MLS central defender makes more sense than an international signing, but if we have to put up with both, then do it.
Midfield - I have been of the opinion that TFC's greatest need this season has been wingers. The Vanney approach of four central midfields in a diamond and asking the right and left backs to fill the wings stretches the back four way too much. May I point out the back pass from Justin Morrow to Robbie Keane that created the third LA goal last night is the result of forever stretching those backs (and bad decision making).
Forwards - The trio of Altidore, Giovinco and Moore could be the best in the league (yes, Moore has his critics). I am not alone in being unimpressed with Robbie Findley. Bright Dike is a mystery and Jordan Hamilton needs playing time. A reduction in the striker ranks makes more sense than an addition...

TFC 0 DC United 0 - soccer insights nil

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.

I did not attend this game. Instead I went on a journey...
I should have been more proactive and asked somebody to share some insights into the match. Sorry TFC fans....

I attended the Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts.

This was the fourth Solid Sound Festival
I have attended every one of them.

My fondness for Wilco has (years ago) reached overflow and now covers Solid Sound and MASS MoCa and North Adams and the Berkshires. The music flows. The setting is an incredible jumble of natural beauty, industrial abandonment and artistic expression. If the American Dream is a multi-faceted jewel of entry points, this festival and the music of Wilco is an entry point that I cherish. Every single day we Canadians are exposed to a media barrage of a demented and hurt America. It takes a guitar chord reaching my ears while I stand in Joe's Field to remember that their is a healing and hopeful America too. I am intensely grateful to be a part of it, surrounded by family, friends and fellow Wilco devotees...

All acoustic set Friday night

 I did not take this video...but wish I had...

TFC 3 Montreal 1 or Tim L.'s dream come true

Banish thoughts of last Saturday (where TFC were mauled by NYCFC), TFC looked strong last night.

Bradley scores in the first half and that has always been a recipe for success. Bradley can start setting up others once he has established his goal scoring potential to 10.
Sure the TFC goal came after falling behind to Montreal. I give credit to the ref who established himself well and closed the door firmly on the NYCFC cheap shot strategy of days ago.
Second half was Tim L.'s TFC dream of both Altidore and Giovinco scoring to put the game away.

I am inclined to argue many a matter with Tim Leiweke. I am also inclined to put debating aside. On a night like this I walk away from the stadium thinking - if this is what he is selling, I'm buying.

May this victory establish a pattern that resumes after the Gold Cup. It is easy to imagine that this TFC will grab a top playoff spot. Now, can we play Montreal every week?
One anthem nights = sweeter victory

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beaten by dirt TFC 0 NYCFC 2

That was not an entertaining evening out. Mistakes by the lake, that old theme, came back to haunt us all and "dam" mistakes were made by Toronto FC all night long. It was frustrating to watch. Perhaps TFC coaches and players alike had prepared for this game by reading their own press clippings. NYCFC came, grabbed, held and conquered. Ugly soccer all night from the visitors. Scored on a penalty and pounced on some sloppy play for their second. Sure, TFC were playing against both a gritty wall of blue AND the ref, but an absolute lack of pounce from the home side had this fan walking away from the game totally annoyed. IF we are better than them, better than that (Perquis and Cheyrou were repeatedly hit in the head) adjustments have to be made.

Toronto FC lost and I put some of the blame on Michael Bradley. He played an ordinary game, his passes were ordinary, his speed was ordinary and his lack of offensive urgency was a gift to New York. Bradley becomes the attacking midfielder with no attack. What works for him in a US shirt hinders him in Toronto red, that is the midfield maestro role. Take your TFC  shots and fill the net. He should have been shredding NYCFC, a MLS expansion team defense. Instead he lays off, does not dominate the midfield and his ordinary passes create zero goal scoring opportunities for others. New York must smile every time Bradley passes the ball to Osorio or Warner. Maybe it is only human after the recent highs of beating both Netherlands and Germany, that a contest against NYCFC would be low on the inspiration chart for Captain Bradley. It is also human as  a fan to feel that some nights Bradley needs either a swat in the head with the chart paper or a seat on the bench. Without Bradley, TFC beat DC United on the road. With Bradley an expansion team waltzed in and beat TFC on the scoreboard and around the ankles.
TFC lost and I put some of the blame on Seba Giovinco. He just gave every MLS team a template for how to put him off of his game and keep him off the scoresheet. Double team and cheap shots were the New York treatment and Giovinco responded with an obvious foul and got a yellow card for his efforts. Giovinco goes down too easily, too often and New York exploited it all night. The second or third time he spent more attention to ref complaining than TFC goal scoring, he needed to be benched. A canny coach could always say he did it to protect his player from ill treatment and injury but behind closed doors insist that scoring goals, not debating bad refs, pays the bills.

Speaking of the coach, TFC lost and I put a lot of the blame on Coach Greg Vanney. It takes more than a lucky shirt to coach. Did TFC adjust in the second half to the NYCFC constant itchy blanket on Giovinco? New York had been getting away with wrestling, holding fouls all game without even the gesture of warnings from the ref and then TFC sub Altidore (trying to get to a ball) is given a yellow card? Sure ref, that is what the game needed, stop those Toronto forwards from manhandling NY defenders to get to the ball. That should have been the final straw. Vanney was seen chewing out the ref around that point, but it had no true impact on the team or on the crowd. If a TFC coach did not go ballistic over the reffing last night, just how bad would it have to get? Vanney did nothing to alter strategy or alter the tone of the match. It seems that Giovinco and Bradley run the team, not Vanney.  Was it a surprise to anyone that subs Findley and Jackson provided no goals, hell, not even a shot at net!

The TFC coach I dream of would have got himself thrown out of the game last night for both the theatrics and the principle. That coach would give the late game midfield spark job to Jay Chapman and save us from the non-play of Jackson. He would be demanding something of Bradley and Giovinco. He would beat expansion teams.
At least we face a midweek game against Montreal, so hopefully we are singing a different tune soon. Right now I fear TFC have no response to a game of grit and grab. Size, muscle and meanness just got put on the top of my TFC player shopping list...
NYCFC at practice