Thursday, June 14, 2018

Not a pretty picture TFC 4 DC United 4

(Quickly now) I throw together a bloglet of my thoughts from last night's game with DC United. The World Cup Russia 2018 is about to hit all of us with a tidal wave of games, so I write hurriedly while watching game 1 Russia v Saudi Arabia...
I am still struggling to come towards some grasp of what happened.
Yes, it is possible that TFC felt that DC United were a struggling team and therefore all Toronto had to do was show up and waltz through the game.
Yes, it is possible that the wrong defensive alignment was part of the woeful TFC first half. We could blame the wind. Too many times this season we have seen other teams cut through the Toronto backline like a hot knife through butter. The Zavaletta / Hagglund combo just seems to invite fast attackers to let loose. A healthy Chris Mavinga is required. It was great to see a healthy Justin Morrow get second half playing time. A return to Morrow and Mavinga down the left side and the new combo of Auro Jr and van der Wiel on the right will calm the defensive waters. Question still remains about the central roles.

My big concern is a lack of attacking play in the middle of the pitch. It was true of the first half than the second half last night, but it has been a concern. It seems that the book on defending against TFC is allow the ball to stay wide and crowd the middle. Osorio, Vazquez and Giovinco had trouble moving forward in central traffic. It seems that combination short passes too often go astray and giveaways abound. Ricketts is not the right sort of player for weaving passes and dribbles. Marky Delgado has vanished from the bench and Ager Aketxe does not get the call from the bench.

So a point was gained when TFC was down 0-3. If the Columbus Crew comeback was a negative for TFC fans, then one has to grant credit to the comeback effort. The standings still look grim for playoff purposes.
Let the World Cup distract all and a fresher TFC greet us come Canada Day.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Road victory Philly Union 0 TFC 2

TFC grabbed their first road victory of the 2018 season. Ok, it was a week late. It should have been that disaster in Columbus last Saturday night.

Jonathan Osorio was the scoring star with a goal in each half. Alex Bono made the timely saves that I had felt he had been lacking of late. He also had the spectacular fortune to have Philly's best shot go off the crossbar.
The back two pairing of Hernandez and Hagglund had a few clunky moments. TFC needs to develop Drew Moor's future replacement. Perhaps it is Hagglund, or Mavinga. I should not be squawking about defending after a game with a clean sheet. Can we play the Union every week?

It was also good to see Agar Aketxe get into the game and play some productive minutes. He needs playing time and a chance to learn the league. It seems that the TFC midfield has both established roles and unsettled ones. Osorio has grabbed his role, Auro Jr has the right flank and we expect a healthy Justin Morrow gets back to the left. Bradley as DM and then a mixture of Aketxe, Fraser, Telfer, Hasler and the Marky Delgado comeback? It almost helps that Victor Vazquez gets his spot as striker.

I am throwing the cat amongst the pigeons here.
The time to sell Seba Giovinco (in my so subtle opinion) is sooner rather than later. 
He has lost a step, does not beat anyone 1v1. Philly is hardly a lockdown defending team, but Seba was smothered. The second goal (his assist on Osorio) was a gift, Philly threw the ball to him wide open.
He is also not showing any maturity, coolness or leadership. After the contact to his face in the second half, he did not get his head back in the game for minutes. If Toledo did not give him a yellow card on his payback tackle, we are in strange territory. Toledo more restrained than our striker. He is not earning a pay raise out there. 

Sure, the return of Altidore, Morrow, Mavinga and Moor will make a huge difference to this team. My opinion is that Giovinco has not expanded to fill the leadership vacuum

Maybe a loan during the offseason? That would be a way to establish whether he has value and reveal to him that if he wants a future in Toronto, it has to be on Toronto's terms.  Maybe a contract offer that allows TFC to sign another striker?

Healthy Hagglund Helps

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Crewsing along, wheels fell off Columbus 3 TFC 3

I waited until the morning after before writing the blog post. I would have been spitting fire from the keyboard. Instead I devoted my energy to yapping on Facebook and Twitter.

It hurt to watch TFC on television squander a 3 goal lead on the road.

It hurt to watch Michael Bradley make some questionable decisions on the ball in critical moments.

It hurts to see Marky Delgado, in only a short time playing as a late substitute, play without confidence and give away the ball.

It hurts to see another team get into Alex Bono's head and have him not make timely saves that were such a huge part of 2017 glory.

I know that TFC injury list continues to be a factor. TFC are missing Jozy Altidore, Justin Morrow, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga and many more and that the vacancies are huge. Osorio had to leave the game early due to injury.

I chirp about this too often, but TFC still lacks a character guy. A replacement for Benoit Cheyrou and/or Steven Beitashour. Somebody who knows the league, teams and stadiums. Somebody who comes into the game in the late stages and calms the troops, quells the storm, makes the contributions required. Liam Fraser, the TFC rookie midfielder, played a solid first 60 minutes. He and Ryan Telfer have shown plenty of potential, but they are the sort of players who get replaced in the final 20 minutes by a character guy.

TFC need a winning streak. Defeat Philly, DC and NYCFC and I can see myself at the Canada Day game with a renewed sense of hope. But, as I said on twitter last night, it will take months before I gradually, grudgingly take consolation in last night's point on the road. 

to add insult to injury, each of these guys scored last night...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

No goals, no spine, no spit, no fire TFC 0 FCDallas flipfloppin 1

I write on the morning after... my ire slightly cooled. Slightly...

I understand that TFC faces a huge challenge to duplicate or even come close to their wonder season of 2017.

I understand that TFC have had that huge challenge multiplied by the early season demands of playing in the CCL. They were a penalty kick or two, a penalty save or two away from winning the Champion's League.

I understand that TFC have a continuing injury problem - Moor, Morrow, Altidore are the biggest names that come to mind, but plenty more. Chris Mavinga went off injured last night, so it continues.

But for heaven's sake, what the hell is happening here? What are we witnessing? This has suddenly (or over the course of April and May home games) become a team with no sting AND no spine.

Toronto does not have the ability to score and honestly I am not surprised. The offensive strategy is to feed it to Giovinco and hope he scores a miracle goal or shuffle the ball around and mostly stand still.
Has Michael Bradley signed a pledge to never, ever take a shot at net? Victor Vazquez played a substandard game as did Osorio. Ryan Telfer and Liam Fraser both contributed, but having those two rookies be your top two passing and crossing contributors means there are a lot of passengers around them.
I honestly want a month or two break from watching Hamilton and/or Ricketts have limited impact on play. It is a good thing that the June schedule puts TFC on the road most of the time. I feel that TFC needs a striker for a summer signing and possibly a trade to just send a message. No score = not needed.

As to the spit and spine lacking.... it started with the Seba Giovinco pk. Before the shot was taken the Dallas keeper Gonzalez was allowed to stand toe to toe with the penalty taker. Ref? Should have been the first question and if seconds later no action EVERY TFC player should have been in there. I have never seen a keeper be allowed to mess with a penalty taker that way. He proceeded to stall and go back in stages.
The best move of the night was that Ryan Telfer fouled the keeper and earned a yellow first chance he got. Did you notice that the Dallas players all massed around their keeper to protect him after the contact?
The second half was a drama fest. TFC had fewer and fewer attacking ideas and Dallas had fewer and fewer players able to keep to their feet. We saw this type of crap from Colorado last summer and TFC get out their nice guy attitudes and end up with their faces rubbed in it.
Auro Jr caught a Dallas player in the corner below me shinguard to shinguard and the Dallas player went down like he had been amputated. Drew the foul and then did the miracle recovery. Nobody went over and fouled the bugger right then and there. Hey ref he faked it over there.....but, oh look by god damn, he is injured now. Tell the Dallas players stay on your feet and play, you are in Toronto. Hurt somebody, stand up to their tactics, BE LESS THAN NICE. Show some spit, some spine, some fire. Show something other than dither, pass back and hope that static offense is going to magically have the other team falter. If you can’t win pretty WIN UGLY. Arghhhhhh

Nice works when you win, nice works when you score. TFC are faltering and folding and fading. Too many players are in a fuzzy funk. God, we miss Benoit Cheyrou.

Bezbatchenko has to step in with a summer trade and a signing. Vanney and Fraser have to smarten up and either find the offensive, creative spark or pray daily for a healthy return of Morrow and Altidore. Or hire an offensive specialist coach. Or just somebody who loses their temper from time to time. I am available, up in section 220. You will spot me easily, the guy with the steam rising from his cranium.

It is almost unimaginable in recent memory to see a visiting team arrive with the notion that scoring a single goal was enough to defeat TFC in Toronto. Unimaginable. 

Early in game, before steam overload

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Overdue Canadian scoring contributions TFC 2 Orlando 1

Winning a home game = acorn for a squirrel

Call me a happy TFC fan amongst many this morning. Thrilled with the home field victory over Orlando. Winning stops the recent home and away losing spiral and gets the team back on track. There is still a playoff qualification mountain to climb, but victory changes the angle.

Against Orlando, both of TFC's goals were scored by Canadians. A solid strike from Jay Chapman on a huge rebound after Tosaint Ricketts had hit the post with his solid shot. The second goal was an excellent volley by Ryan Telfer after Auro Jr. had twisted, turned the defender and sent the cross from tight quarters in the corner.

The fact that Canadians scored is a relief, but it does not come with any amount of amnesia. The loss to Seattle and the loss to New England could have been (should have been) both avoided by Canadians stepping up to the scoring challenge that was given to them. Chapman and Osorio from the midfield, Hamilton and Ricketts up front. The TFC roster seems to be built with Canadian content mostly in the midfield and forward positions (and Ashtone Morgan). Bluntly, my response to Jay Chapman scoring was "about damn time".
I feel it did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that in the month of May (especially with an injury list that included Moor, Morrow, Mavinga, Hagglund, Zavaletta) Toronto needed to play to win some goal fest games. Sure, some soft goals were allowed. Mostly in the New England game, but the response of too many seemed to be leave the goal scoring efforts to others rather than take on the creative and sweaty challenge of putting the ball on target themselves.
Sorry to offend nationalists, but I was happy to see Jordan Hamilton come out of the game around the 60 minute mark. Too many minutes played in recent games without scoring opportunities or even shots produced. When do you put aside the potential measurement and put the production equation ahead of it? My bloggers hunch is this season, while I respect that wiser heads are involved.

Just to avoid harping on the nationality angle, it was also great that TFC scorers were midfielders. I have long felt that Toronto FC,  apart from Victor Vazquez and Justin Morrow, lacks scoring threats out of their midfield. Marky Delgado seems to be playing in a fog. Most of 2017 season, it seemed that the Vanney team selection was either Delgado or Osorio in the midfield.  You might not have felt that Jonathan Osorio had risen much above Delgado in the CCL, but now the gulf is growing. Perhaps Chapman getting a goal is going to work against Delgado getting playing time to regain his momentum?

So the look ahead for the TFC schedule has May ending with the home game next week against Dallas. Then June sees 3 away games, Columbus, Philly and NYCFC and one home game against DC United. Where Toronto sits come Canada Day will be revealing. I am crazed enough to want a winning streak from last night into July.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Meltdown over comeback NE Revs 3 TFC 2

Two years ago, time to grow up

Toronto FC had a rocky start in New England tonight. Allowing two quick goals on that slick surface. First one was Toronto falling victim to an attacker who fluidly moved into space and let the hard shot fly. It was justice in a way as TFC forever seem to lack that sort of play.
The second goal was Bono taking chances and then failing to clear. Ager Aketxe certainly got stripped of the ball in record time, but he should not have been put in that position. All night long TFC midfielders were misjudging the receiving of passes. The Revs seems to pounce on the turf adjustment micro second. Or the passes were often too slow to begin with.
It is amazing that they started the second half sloppy and allowed Bunbury to score. Falling behind on the road 3-0 should have been the end, but New England let TFC back in.

An own goal by New England. TFC just might.....
Vanney senses an opportunity and puts in Giovinco, Vazquez and Mavinga (which allows Bradley back into the midfield). Then a pk goal for Giovinco.

Then Seba Giovinco was provoked by NE Rev midfielder Zahibo, who poked at the ball that Giovinco was carrying back to centre for the restart of play. Seba responded by pushing at Zahibo's face. Which was a reach.

Red card given. TFC comeback averted.
Giovinco is a top goal scorer and should not take the bait. Other teams physically wrassle with him all the time, but the Seba boiling point is too low. He hurts himself, he hurts the team.

I also feel that this is an area that TFC have neglected. Giovinco's first year in Toronto he had two teammates (Cheyrou and Perquis) who were very good at being very bad to those who messed with Giovinco. Nobody plays that role anymore. Nobody sticks up for our petulant little scoring star.

 Giovinco should mature? Sure, all for it.

But there are also too many players not playing any role at all. If you are scoring, then let Seba fight his own battles. But if he is the only TFC scoring possibility, do something to protect him from idle provocations.

Time for my own meltdown. The pillow is calling....

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

First MLS win 2018 TFC 3 RSL 1

Toronto FC put some worries to bed as they landed a victory in their third MLS game of 2018. The fans knew that Champion’s League games were getting in the way. Columbus and especially Montreal had taken advantage.

Hard to decide whether the win was due to Toronto FC’s quality or RSL’s lack of it. Not that TFC were undeserving, but they were able to dominate with a patchwork line up.

I have the luxury of writing this post after knowing that TFC win their Tuesday CCL home game against Club America. 

So TFC now face, perhaps, the biggest game in their history.

still kicking...