Monday, December 10, 2007
Then there was the release of Braz, Reda and every one else way down the bench. No surprises there.
The team has given the opening 2008 dates so that the countdown can begin.
First road game vs Columbus on March 29th
Second road game vs DC United on April 5th
First home game vs Real Salt Lake on Saturday April 19th.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This month is the expansion draft for MLS - not sure where I read it, but November 21 seems to ring a bell. My prediction is that no TFC players will be selected by San Jose, but Mo Johnston will be looking to pull off a trade.
Too bad about DC United not getting past Chicago. I fear a NE Rev and Houston Dynamo rematch in the MLS Cup.
I miss TFC !!! Next post I will investigate possible schedule openers for 2008 and try to start a countdown.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
After Saturday's joyous final 2007 home game it is possible to be still on such a high that the cruel reality of "season over" may not have sunk in. TFC came, the faithful fans saw and Danny Dichio conquered.
Who expected this ?? Who thought that the beautiful game would have landed, flourished and launched something so strong, so filled with affection and celebration, so tribal in all the right ways, here in boring Toronto ?
We all fall in love in different ways, at different speeds and with different results. This cynical old grump, with his secret love for soccer, stood in the stands at the end and watched the fans dance in the middle of the pitch and understood that the "head over heels" love affair with TFC was deep and wide and strong.
Lets face it, most sporting experiences divide more than unite. Tickets tell you where to sit. Escalating prices make attending games a sporadic activity which lessens the passion of the fans. Luxury boxes basically create affluent, exclusive neighbourhoods in your midst. They are designed to convince you that someone else is having a better time than you. TFC throws that out the window. The players and coaches lapped the field at the end applauding the people in red and of course they start at the cheapest seats. The pitch invasion was filled with love. It was respectful of the team, it followed their lap of honour. It also sent a clear message, an anti-luxury box message if you will; the greatest fun happening here is in the heart of the truest, happiest fan. I hope that this feeling and the wonderful memories will carry all of us through the winter months ahead.
I want what every TFC fan wants ...no, expects ...a host of improvements:
Improved media coverage,
(and maybe improved recognition for little ol'me - the blogger who stuck to his keyboard and kept blogging all season long....)
Hell, I wanted improved seats in my section and price range - but you can't have everything when you are part of a movement.
I expect within a day or two I will be blogging about the off season speculation, those signings and draft choices and trades that will usher in the TFC of 2008.
So don't dream it's over. However, it is time for expressing thanks.
Thanks to family for supporting me through the season and encouraging me to give time and energy to blogging and trying to express my appreciation for the game.
Thanks to those who happily blogged for me on those handful of games that I could not make it.
Thanks to all who read the blog and double thanks to all who commented and triple thanks to those who added Mistake by the Lake to their blogrolls around the league.
And thanks to the team, players, coaches and suits, who despite the barren patches, showed a spirit that went beyond the results on the scoreboard and made being an obsessed, passionate fan a pure joy this season.
May this be the shortest winter of them all
Saturday, October 20, 2007
New England scored late in the first half. TFC had been playing well and Revs goal 1 was a bolt out of the blue. Michael Parkhurst was in his own half and worked himself into the clear and kicked the ball perfectly, arcing in from that great distance, catching Stamatopolous off of his line. TFC, players and fans alike, sagged. You could hardly blame Kenny S, it was a blooper of a goal, a once in a lifetime event.
Then early in the second half a bounce around corner kick made it two for the Revolutions. The goal was given to Twellman, but it could have been an own goal. Toronto has lost twice to New England this year in blowouts (4-0 and 3-0). It looked like the game was headed into that blow-out direction.
Then the Revolution was derailed (they have their playoff spot wrapped up and NY Red Bulls waiting so the game was not a complete test of relative abilities). Marvell Wynne, Tyler Hemmings and Colin Samuel began to make forays (nothing like a well made foray) down the right wing with increasing success. Wynne had scrambled for the ball in front of New England's net and got away a hard, low shot that hit the post and rebounded. Samuel won the race, put the ball away and Toronto had new life.
Dichio had been a second half substitute for Jeff Cunningham and it was his first playing time in months. He drew his usual defensive attention and was winning balls and providing for those around him. I am sure that his goal was on his first shot of the game. Overall TFC played a solid game, Chris Pozniak was a solid offensive contributor when he came on in the second half.
Next game is a friendly later this month in Portland, Oregon and then it is on to 2008.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Which brings us to tonight. TFC survived the 1st half, going into the halftime break with a nil-nil score. They played many defenders as midfielders in this one. Adam Braz and Marvell Wynne were both in midfield roles. In addition to the usual loss of O'Brien, Brennan and Dichio to injury, there was also Edu, Boyens and Robinson away on international duty. So when you consider the huge potential for a defensive shell mentality, the back four worked well together and the midfield was digging in too. The Galaxy had the game under control in the first 30 minutes, but TFC ended the half with a flurry of runs and opportunities. Marshall had a chance in alone on the keeper (how was he onside??) and missed the far post. Both Marvell Wynne and Gabe Gala showed some flashes on attack. A glimmer of hope was spotted in the California night.
Toronto came out with energy in the second half and you felt that the game was still up for grabs. Then the first crumble. Marco Reda reached out and held onto the Galaxy player (Pavon or Glinton?) in the box and not only conceded the pk but picked up a red card for fouling as the last man back. But the plot had a few more twists ahead. Down a goal and down a player, TFC found another gear. Pozniak sprung Samuel with a beautiful pass and Samuel, our king of missed opportunities, buried a hard low shot past Cannon the LA keeper. Now a tie would not eliminate the Galaxy from the playoffs, but it would not be a step in the right direction. LA made all their changes looking for the right offensive combo. No doubt they were struggling with the 10 men TFC. Then along came Buddle. Remember him ?? Edson Buddle scored the winner, wide open in front of the net, he connected on a cross. Kenny S. never had a chance.
Now I grant you, a healthy Beckham will lift this team. Yet I doubt that any team truly fears meeting them in the playoffs. I am looking forward to 2008, as any slight tweak and improvement to TFC will mean two victories over LA. I have my glimmer of hope in safe keeping over the winter...
The juiciest rumour of the week, that Allesandro Del Piero (Juventus/Italy) was being considered for the Toronto FC Designated Player role for 2008, was music to my ears. (Larry Millson's article in the Globe and Mail in which he quizzed Mo about the rumours moved the story beyond Big Soccer chatter stage) It would be a masterstroke, not because he has worn the Azzuri or Juve shirt, but because of his offensive talent. His potential for scoring goals in MLS is huge.
This is taken from his wiki entry.
"Under Marcello Lippi's reign as Juventus coach, Del Piero's creative abilities were on display whatever the coach's formation was. Del Piero showed his class in the lethal "trident-attack" formation along with veterans Gianluca Vialli and Fabrizio Ravanelli."
If there is a player that Dichio reminds me of, it has to be Ravanelli when he played for Juve. I think that Del Piero is brilliant because he single handedly ends the debate on the striker DP versus the midfield DP. TFC would have offensive options galore whether he played as a link between midfield and two strikers or played as a striker himself.
TFC fans will accept talent. Those who see Del Piero only as a marketing move for the Italian community miss the point. He has every chance of being as strong in the MLS of 2008 as JP Angel was in 2007. If he is not the next piece in the TFC puzzle, he at least has raised the level of Designated Player possibilities.
I am loving the opportunity to dream....
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Colorado was able to move the ball around the field without really penetrating into scoring territory. They were well spaced, and if not dangerous, they were at least cohesive.
Then the moment of hope. A nasty injury could have resulted from the rash two footed slide tackle launched by Belouchy. The red card was given without hesitation and TFC has the man advantage at the 36th minute. We have seen this story before (Real Salt Lake in September) . Carl Robinson was the player who managed to avoid injury.
After the moment of hope comes the moment of reckoning. In a corner kick set-up Chris Pozniak gets his hands on a Rapid player in front of the net and sends him flying. Perhaps it was just getting his hands on somebody and they made sure that they went flying, but a penalty kick awarded no matter the sequence. Goal scored by Colorado's Jovan Kirovski in the 44th minute.
The second half settled into a snore, You would never have known that TFC had a man advantage. The Colorado announcer said it best. "Toronto is not good enough in possession to take advantage of being a man up".
Give credit to Mo for switching things up at the half. Braz out for Tyler Hemming, Gabe Gala out for Miguel Canizalez. This was followed shortly after with Chris Pozniak off for Joey Melo. Although these moves did not have much of an impact, at least the young players are getting some playing time.
Marvell Wynne's speed continues to amaze. In the 65th minute he was able to get from a beaten position just outside the box and come back to win the ball from Clark inside the box.
The ref tonight, Kevin Stott, was excellent in this blogger's opinion, although the yellow card to Carl Robinson could have been avoided by a quicker call just seconds before.
Pablo Mastroeni of Colorado gets ejected in the final minute or two. WIth a two man advantage there is a real shot on net saved by a diving Rapid keeper, Bouna Coundoul.
The lack of attack is frightening. The same squad that had something happening at home against the Red Bulls returned to their punchless form. LA Galaxy next and they have something to play for.
Friday, October 5, 2007
The quality of the play on the field from TFC was crystal clear despite these trick or treat atmospherics. A team effort, with contributions from many and only a momentary lapse (the New York goal from a corner that seemed to come from TFC's letdown after the Boyen's sending off rather than the play and pressure of the Red Bulls). That was followed by a tightening in the back. Carl Robinson came back into Boyen's central defender role and you will not hear any complaints about Robbo's game from this blogger tonight. In the first half he was mobile and distributed passes all over the field. He and Mo Edu had a grip on the midfield that held all night. Even when down to ten men (Andy Boyens red card was just the ref evening the game after the Red Bulls had Joe Vide sent off) New York seldom had an attack develop down the middle of the field. They had to be happy with nibbling around the edges. You got the sense towards the end that TFC had the utmost respect for Angel and Altidore and always had many back to prevent them from getting space.
Cunningham and Samuel up front both played well. There were some gaps in communication and understanding, but for the most part they looked quick and threatening. It was pleasing to see Colin Samuel make a contribution, he may never be a star but could be a valuble squad player if not for the Senior International limit on the roster.
Gabe Gala, the teenager from Brampton who had his first start last night, looked quick and smart with the ball. The TFC attack has gone without any action on the left wing for so many games that it seems that they forget about that part of the field altogether. Gala brought the left side back into the mix. He deserved the ovation when substituted after 70 minutes.
I came into the game with admiration for Jozy Altidore, both from US U20 play and Red Bull games on the tube. Perhaps I caught him having an off night, but he did seem to be flipping and flopping and hamming up all night. When an attacker puts more effort into putting his knees together and twisting in the air to exaggerate a challenge or foul than he does getting open and shooting........ I am a charitable fellow, an off night for Altidore and I would take him on as a Red(coat) in a heartbeat.
Marvell Wynne bested Altidore tonight. His cross that resulted in the NY own goal was a perfectly placed one. It was destined for the net, it was just a matter of which foot would complete the transaction. I would wax poetically about the Edu goal too, but there was a lot of fog between these eyes and that end.
Moisture on the mind leads to bladder build-up. One of my travelling companion last night, Shotgun C. Lakeshore was new to the stadium, new to the team and new to the concept of standing in line for ages to go to the men's washroom. The team put on a show. the south end performed brilliantly, but the need for more toilets is bordering on the cruel and unusual. Time for an old fashioned trough - all the old places had one. Thanks for joining in on the TFC adventure Mr. Lakeshore, I know you will be back for more. Next time we will whiz in the parking lot pre-game to survive the night in style.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Carl Robinson hit a beautiful free kick and scored his second goal of the season. Sure, Perkins was faked, fooled and on the wrong foot, yet the flight of the ball was a thing of beauty.
After the goal DC worked their way back into the game a little. A shot from distance glanced off the cross bar behind Kenny S. DC was able to increase the pressure, but nothing came of it. TFC takes their lead with them to halftime.
Colin Samuel had a solid first half. He was moving with strength and speed, although he does frustrate with his bursts of clumsy ball control, just when you think he is putting his game together.
Marvell Wynne's speed kept getting him into dangerous territory. In the half time interview Carl Robinson said TFC was playing a 4-5-1, was Wynne the striker ??
Andy Boyens was patrolling the right side well, showing some speed and a good sense of position. Even when beat he would find a way to recover.
Well that was all TFC had for the night. All the flow and promise of the first 45 evaporated like the sweat on Dick Cheney's brow (like the way I work in the political angle for a game in Washington DC ?).
In the second half DC scored a scorcher in the 52nd minute from Burch. The ball started to look like it had a magical attraction to DC's feet. Fred added one in the 57th minute, finding the far corner as he shot from a good distance out to right of Toronto's goal.
These are the goals that Toronto never score, finding space and shooting while in the flow of the attack.
Mo makes a change- Jeff Cunningham on in the 61st minute, out goes Adam Braz.
Moreno proves in the 66nd minute that he can score when he sails in way offside and puts it away. Maybe it was expecting the offside flag to go up that contributed to Kenny S. looking less than stellar on the play.
Emilio makes it 4. Gomez hits the crossbar on a free kick and Emilio volleys in the rebound. Must I tell you the minute that this one went in ? Did you think I was standing around watching the clock in the same way that TFC seemed to be standing around watching the ball ? My new tradition must be that I will not report the time of the goal that puts Toronto down by three.
Was all this a result of sloppy defending or was it merely DC United asserting their quality and taking control ? They do know how to score...
Colin Samuel makes way for Andrea Lombardo with maybe 15 minutes to play.
Chris Pozniak off for Miguel Canizalez with less than ten to play.
What is left now ? This must be the moment where TFC finally has been eliminated from longshot playoff contention, isn't it ? Gerry Dobson tells us that "the game is starting to fade away just a little bit". No Gerry, it was fading away two goals ago. It has now left the solar system. Gerry recovers, sounds accurate when he describes the game as "whimpering".
This Toronto FC team has a cruel way of toying with you. The hopeful half precedes the bloody hopeless one. At least they are seldom boring. Next is New York at BMO on Thursday night. Will we get to see Gabe Gala ? How about Wynne and Boyens as strikers ? What new and sweet torture will TFC devise for that game ? Stay tuned.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Columbus struck back in the second-half with more dominance in possession but both of the visitors' goals were the result of sloppy man-marking. After the equalizer the fans continued to support the home side but the change in enthusiasm was palpable. It made for great timing as coach Mo Johnson made an unannounced change to the line-up on the field.
Enter The Squirrel. It seemed to have entered the field from the Toronto bench and then proceeded to made a fabulous run down the flank and on several occasions came very near to running between the goal-posts of the Crew. Several of the cheekier fans could be heard to note that the squirrel had better accuracy towards goal than certain of the home team's strikers... In any case, several fans from sections 220 and 221 joined together for a rawkous chant of "Let's go Squir-rel, clap - clap - clapclapclap." This too waned after the away team's 2nd goal, and the game ended in a 2-1 home loss.
Reds fans walked away with smiles though, knowing that the streak is finally over. We got our goal. This poster would like to say thanks to the original blogger for the tix and also to the fab fans of 220 for the friendly welcome. Come on you Reds!!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Real Salt Lake was reduced to 10 players late in the first half. It had been a close, but chippy game. Esky went down like a ton of bricks to trick the ref into the yellow on Boyens. The Real Salt Lake players spent a lot of time talking to the ref and he was putting up with it. You felt they were reviewing their take on the laws of the game and all the ghastly (ghost) fouls that he was missing. In the early going with the man advantage, there were some close misses, but somehow there was a lack of optimism in the air going into half-time.
The critical exposure of the TFC lack of depth started with the second half when a half-time injury to Marvell Wynne meant that Adam Braz was put into the game at right back. Perhaps the Wynne injury was connected to the foul on him from behind that led to the red card? You can go ahead and tease me, I did name Braz my man of the match last week in Dallas, but you got the feeling that Salt Lake's defending stategy was leave Braz unmarked because they wanted him to have the ball. Braz would work the ball up to his winger Miguel Canizalez who would look scared with the ball, go nowhere and manage to lose the ball or scramble it back to Braz. Maybe I am too harsh on Canizalez, the TFC roster on the website lists him as a defender. If that is true, what was Mo thinking ??
So instead of dominating the midfield, Carl Robinson was playing way back to give Braz an option to pass to. If he was needed back there to anchor the d, maybe Andy Boyens should have been sent forward. It seemed defeatist to be playing with five in the back.(Did Caninzalez make it 6 ??)
Hey, how about an overlap Carl Robinson ? He could have been penetrating the right wing, but instead he seemed to be a central gatekeeper, always channeling passes from Braz to Brennan or Brennan to Braz. If a Robinson supplied a pass forward to Edu he was always surrounded by the Salt Lake midfield. How about a give'n go Robinson ?? Follow your pass or make a run. I think I saw Robinson come forward once and that was when Braz came up a with a power pass that flew over everyone into the stands.
The TFC attack down the left (Brennan and Dunivant) did break through and supplied some hopeful crosses. This duo work very hard and try to come up with something- but they are defenders playing out of position.
Andrea Lombardo either has incredible bad luck or has no touch around the net. He does seem to head goalward with the ball, showing little awareness of Colin Samuel or anyone else for that matter. RSL did have veteran Eddie Pope covering Lombardo a lot of the time, so that there was little room for vision. When Jeff Cunningham came on there was more interplay between he and Samuels in a few minutes than we had seen all day between Lombardo and Samuel. A healthy Cunningham must pave the way for Lombardo to spend the rest of the season on the bench.
So a tie and another non goalfest for TFC. The air has gone out of this season. It started leaking in July, but it is gone now. It is next year's squad that is being formed now. I wish that TFC players would stop playing themselves off of that squad, but that is the nature of growing pains.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
TFC had plenty of fire and were in attacking mode throughout the first half. Reminded me of their meeting in Toronto, made you wonder which team was play-off bound. Too bad they had nothing to show for it. There was continued pressure in the second half, but the cloud of desperation seemed to grow. When Andrea Lombardo failed to score on his breakaway, the night was over.
The first penalty call was harsh, if Marshall made contact at all, it seemed slight. Forrest and Reed were right to be puzzled in the broadcast booth. If it was a last man foul, why give Marshall a yellow card ? So Denilson scored on the penalty. It seemed that there was two chances to stop the shot, before it hit the post it was out of reach, but it looked like it rolled along the line for a second before it crossed.
The second penalty call was almost kind, keeping hope alive takes it's toll. Joey Melo was caught wrapping his arms around the Dallas player. Dallas scored on the penalty, but that was pre-ordained. I hereby predict that there will be a balance between TFC penalty stops and goals scored by them for the remainder of the season. I am getting grouchy about this.
My man of the match is Adam Braz. Too many nights his intensity scares me and his offensive contributions tonight amounted to nothing (but that would be true of everyone else too). Yet he seemed to be the equal of Denilson's runs down the right and was a solid force in the back.
I am not sure if this CBC broadcast is truly HD, but the red and white hoops of Dallas and the road gray and red of Toronto made for a poor contrast. Time for a third uniform...but players to wear the red should be the greater priority.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Winger Andy Welsh has been loaned by TFC to Blackpool in England, thus ending his time in Toronto. Apart from his salary, which is a lot to pay a MLS sub, he was due to be considered a Senior International rather than a Youth International next season and he had not earned that spot.
There were many TFC Welsh haters, I was not one of him. I liked his effort and his gangly ways, though he was pushed off the ball time and time again. You can't argue against the view that he contributed little and was not part of the future.
So I wish him well with his career and thank him for the memories ( his celebrations in June when the team was scoring and his goal against Houston on that first cold rainy night game).
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
First a mbtlfn tip of the hat to those who filled in while I was gone. Thanks Jason and thanks Still Kicking offspring for the great contributions, you put the regular guy (me) to shame. I hope you both enjoyed blogging and hope that I can entice you both to do it again some time. (Still Kicking offspring wrote the Chivas report and Jason took on the DC United game)
Well TFC fanatics, let me warn you. My writing and thinking on all things TFC and MLS will take some time getting back up to speed. My body and my mind took this vacation and it took me off planet football. My travels extended from August 9th to yesterday (August 27th) and included Nevada, California and Arizona. The Arizona portion was the absolute highlight, a 4 day trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I opted for the beginner end (Whitmore Wash to Lake Mead). I was so mesmerized by the journey that I am already saving up for the full journey which starts as Lee's Ferry and would add two weeks at least. I won't ramble on, but I am inspired enough that I may start a Toronto guy can't stop thinking about the Grand Canyon blog.
In closing I would also like to thank TFC for doing the right thing. Knowing I was going to be away for three games, they opted to neither win nor score during my absence so that I would not feel that I missed anything of import. I was touched by the gesture. Thanks. I am back, so you can stop now.
The typically spirited atmosphere at BMO Field was then quickly silenced in the eighth minute when a D.C. United goal kick was headed on for Brazilian forward Fred who split the TFC defence and slotted home from close range for the opener and only goal of the match. FC keeper Stamatopoulos had a hand on the ball in an effort to make the save but it proved to be in vain. The one-sided display in tempo and ball possession evened out after the goal.
TFC striker Collin Samuel managed a cracking low shot in the 29th minute which which was calmly collected by D.C. keeper, Troy Perkins. Dunivant displayed another flash of optimism to bring TFC level in the 70th minute, with a one touch and shot that Perkins again managed well.
TFC misfired on a few half chances, but didn't manage to cobble together the clear cut chances that they'd hoped for. A lack of build-up play in the midfield and subsequent drought of service to the strikers was evident .
The lads are now sitting on 642 minutes and seven matches without a goal. A dismal run of late, but patience is required. Lets keep in mind that there's eight games to go, they're without some key players due to injury and they're in their debut season in this league. This trivial "record" of futility will be forgotten in time.
Friday, August 24, 2007
It wasn't too bad, but walking through the noisy, smelly, run down fairgrounds was not the most pleasant experience. Once in the stadium, you hardly noticed it was there. Although at some points, I almost wished I had stayed outside, as one of the random Ex-goers who stared with their face pressed against the bars, at the Carlsberg tents on the north side of the stadium.
Now, I am not the owner or usual poster for this blog, and unlike him I do not know the stats and trivia, and beside Brennen with his obviously broken arm, I know nothing of the injuries for our team. But to justify our performance on Saturday, it is my opinion that every player should have had at least a pull or sprain. We were absolutely out of form and downright saddening to watch.
I have seen TFC play great games, and I have been thrilled by plays set up by our boys in the past. But Saturday was awful.
First half, the ball time was almost equal, with Chivas leading, but just barely. We made it to half time nil nil, not without opportunities I might add, with a nice cross in to Edu from Welsh early on in the game. As the half closed in, TFC seemed more and more desperate for a goal, but every shot seemed to miss the net.
It seemed we might have some hope, when, for the start of the second half, Dichio came on to replace Lombardo. But alas, Chivas by this time had completely turned around their defensive game, and the ball was out of our end maybe three times the entire half. Chivas scored the first goal of the match relatively early on in the second half, and with the exception of a failed attempt by two injured players (Marvell Wynne and Jeff Cunningham) subbed in, in an attempt to even the score, Chivas alone had the scoring opportunities for the rest of the game. TFC would try to bring it out, but Chivas played a strong defense and held the Toronto strikers at bay, by pushing them forward with offside traps and then swarming them if the ball ever made it out to them. Another goal was scored by Chivas, in the dying minutes of the game, and by then it might as well have been over. TFC supporters left the field, and the grounds, with a noticeable damper on their unstoppable chants. The pounding of the walls in the underground GO passage was not near as cheery as it has been, and I think that everyone was feeling the breath of the record set in 2002 for the most minutes played without a goal, one that we are very close to breaking.
For TFC's inaugural season, that is not the record any of us would hope to break.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
This was supposed to be the glamour match of the season. It was a fine TFC effort, but it was a let-down as an event. As a game, it was ok. The patchwork TFC had all of the chances of note, but could not put the ball in the net.
Injuries have clobbered TFC. Ready? Here goes the long list - Dichio, Cunningham, Wynne, Sutton, O’Brien, and Boyens. So it was opportunity time for players who have been way, way down the bench tonight. Marco Reda and Adam Braz were in the back four, Chris Pozniak was in the midfield and Andrea Lombardo played the entire game at striker.
All four of them contributed fully. Adam Braz played his best game yet for TFC. Marco Reda made no mistakes, worked hard and covered well, but his failure to score on a header off a corner kick in the first half was perhaps not the best career move. Pozniak was more active in the first half, but he had a wonderful first touch in the second half . His shot was stopped and he then tried to get the rebound over to Lombardo. Close, but no cigar.
Andrea Lombardo had a chip shot cleared off the line in the first half. It was his finest moment. He was constantly covered by Abel Xavier and you could see the battle going Xavier’s way over and over again as the second half wore down. Lombardo should have thrown more into the attack. He was being played as the only striker, but as the game went on he was playing the ball back to the midfield to readily and nothing was coming of it.
The new keeper, Kenny Stamatopolous had the night off for all intents and purposes. If TFC can keep him this idle, he will love playing here. But you can’t play LA every night.
Toronto looked one step off from connecting all night. A healthy TFC would have had this game in the bag by half time is my verdict. Amazing moment of trivia - up to this point in the post - every TFC player discussed from tonight's game is Canadian. I could mention that Jim Brennan gave his all, but is that only to keep the Canuck comment string going ??
Los Angeles looked horrible. I know they were on the road and you have to defend first on the road, but they had no counter attack to speak of in the first half and little better in the second half. This is a team that won the MLS Cup in recent years (2005 ?). Hmmm....
The Beckham sideshow was a no-show. He watched the game from the bench and was wearing a suit. A nice suit. I think it was a dark suit. He made a brief appearance on the big screen. Neighbours of mine used their binoculars to spot Becks on the bench. I did not have a peek. Peter Mansbridge was also there. At BMO field that is, not on the Galaxy bench. I will not spend a lot of time giving suggestions for improving the Galaxy. That will be on another blog devoted to tall orders.You have to wonder what difference Beckham when healthy will make ? Maybe this was just an off night for LA, or their building a team around Becks is a multi year plan.
I would have given the Man of the Match award to Carl Robinson. He was dominant in the middle defensively and moved the ball around intelligently when on the attack. His free kicks and corners were quality contributions, but fell short. However he must shake the habit of being a pass first, pass only midfielder. He has to make some runs himself to worry the defence. With Lombardo covered like a blanket, feeding him the ball was not the answer. LA was going to allow passing out on the perimeter all night, it was attack and penetration that was required.
Now a personal note - Vacation beckons. I am heading south of the border and will spend time in California and then head off for a Grand Canyon trip down the Colorado River along with my son. So my TFC fandom will be hard to maintain in these next few weeks. The blog must be fed, so I have arranged for friends and family to fill in the game reports and keep this space thriving. Wish me luck on the river and I hope to return to a repaired and rejuvenated TFC. Cheers.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The Wed. game (Galaxy vs Dallas) did not have Becks in the LA squad and the media reported that there were some complaints from ticket buyers in Dallas. Dallas offered the disgruntled folks a ticket for a future game. A good publicity move, come back unhappy fan and buy some more beer. Was there actually any refunds given in Dallas ?
So now the spotlight turns to the next LA game, here against TFC. TFC issue their press release in anticipation of complaints should Becks not play, that there will be no refunds. Well of course, it almost goes without saying. That is a sign that things are moving off into the hype stratosphere, things that go without saying are said. TFC would have had no future tickets to give to unhappy customers. The season is a sell-out and there is a waiting list for next year.
I think you would have to be a total tool to be oblivious to the popularity of TFC and squawk about not seeing Becks. At least not to the point of wanting a refund. You would be outing yourself to the passionate TFC fans who would love to chant that you are the worst kind of ticket buyer- not out for the team or the game, but the to gawk at the media star. They would love to ban you from ever wearing the red and grey.
I still have the suspicion that Beckham will play on Sunday night. The injury speculation just adds to the aura.
Monday, July 30, 2007
This past weekend was the weekend of the Hillside Festival just outside of Guelph. I attended with my entire family and had a great time. If you are a fan of indie music, this festival is the place to be. Great "under the radar" artists, great food, relaxing atmosphere, great beer, you can even go for a dip in the lake to cool off.
So I gave up my tickets to the TFC game and put the game on the pvr at home. Getting home after midnight and knowing the score, I have yet to watch the game. It is a test of my loyalty and courage and I am failing on both counts.
Just to throw in my "told you so's", it seems that my concerns with depth and defense after the Aston Villa game are haunting the team still. Millson in the Globe and Mail reports Mo as looking for 2 or 3 players, including a keeper. Go Mo Go.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The loss was strong medicine, all of the TFC weaknesses were laid bare for all to see.
Our central defenders (Marshall and Brennan) are on the slow side and don't cover with the physical intensity or proximity that is required and our defense out on the flanks aren't much better. When Villa was attacking, they had no difficulty getting their crosses into dangerous territory and there was always one or two or more Villans in the hunt for the ball. You know your d is rocky when Andy Welsh is tracking back trying to throw his weight around. In the second half when Boyens replaced Marshall, for a few moments I thought there was an improvement in the back, but then Villa started to go through the TFC goal area like a hot knife through butter.
Our strikers are a mismatched collection. Samuel and Dichio were effective, but seem to be two solo acts that need some rehearsal time together. Samuel and Lombardo had their moments. Their energy was the driving force behind the flurry of offensive activity that made the second half a treat for the home support. You want Lombardo to have that striker's ego, but his stealing the ball from Robinson to shoot on net was an odd moment. Shouldn't it occur to you that you are not being passed to because the midfielder knows you are offside? After all it is very rare to see Robinson making a run at net like he was doing.
The lack of depth to the TFC squad continues to be a concern. They need some Canadian talent. Melo and Posniak were the only two who came off the bench. Welsh and Robinson did not have strong games and Ronnie O'Brien should have had an early night. I say that without knowing what the substitution limit was for the contest.
Alexei Lalas made some bold statements recently to the British press about the quality of MLS in comparison to EPL. He seemed to have been provoked by the constant putdowns that have been part of the scenery since the Beckham signing. I saw the sense of his defense of the calibre of play. You don't have to agree with the statement to be glad that someone is taking it. Tonight in the last fifteen minutes when it seemed that Aston Villa could have scored time and time again if they had really wanted to, the thought occured to me. I hope the tape of this game does not get into Lalas' hands.
But TFC have come a long way in a short time. They did create some excitement in the second half with their comeback and the learning process continues.
Monday, July 23, 2007
I have struggled for hours to make sense of the U20 World Cup Final I attended yesterday. I did not go to bury Argentina, although my English heritage makes me a strong skeptic when it comes to those blue and white stripes. I left with a sour taste about the game, that team and that soccer nation. If ever the phrase “sing when you’re winning” applied to an army of supporters, it’s Argentina, at least the group in Toronto yesterday. When the Czechs had the run of the game, they go quiet, real quiet. Chile had much better support, consistent support in the third place game. When the losing Austrians ran the field to salute the crowd at the end of their match, there was a good feeling between the players and everyone in the crowd. Even more so down in the south end where a large group of Chilean supporters had gathered. The Austrian team heartily applauded them and the Chilean group cheered them back. A touch of class on both sides.
Argentina have won 5 of the last 7 U20 World Cups, but by their celebrations you would think that they have gone centuries without victory. You would have thought that they had won the game 12 -0.
Go ahead and try to find a photo or video clip of an Argentinian player congratulating or consoling a Czech player. I was there for 30+ minutes. The Czechs stood at half field while the Argentineans danced and danced and celebrated and celebrated some more. At this end and then again at that end. They acted as if they were at a private party, not at an athletic contest.
Winning made them the better team. It was a paper thin margin of victory, but victory was theirs. The post game actions and relentless self involvement at the end made them, in my eyes, the lesser team. If I was a Czech player standing there I would be simply dreaming of the day when I would meet them again on the senior world stage.
If I could wave a magic wand and take two players from the U20 WC and put them on the TFC roster, I would not be taking an Argentinian at all.(surprise, surprise, surprise) The big number 4 for Austria playing central defense would be one and number 13 the left winger for the Czech’s would be the other. Forgive me for not knowing their names. Research department took the day off.
A tip of the Still Kicking hat to the mastermind of the “Mistake by the Lake U20 WC investigative team” yesterday, Mr Craven Cottage View. Mr. CC View is a man of many talents. A lover of the beautiful game, a footy historian, a fine official and may even be running for office ( Halton Hills chapter of TFC supporters club). cheers !
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Perhaps it was due to the personal toll of watching two U20 games in the lakeside sunshine today (U20 report to follow tomorrow) but this was a dull contest. It didn't help that the Crew's Argentinian veteran (Guillermo Barros Schelotto) provided both goals. I was tired of seeing Argentinians score, I guess.
Friday, July 20, 2007
This is not the first time during this tournament that I looked forward to an Argentina game and was let down. The previous game against Mexico was as dull as dishwater.
Didn't it seem that Chile's shutout streak was the talisman that they were hanging their hats on and once that was broken, they shattered ?
And since I am using my 20/20 hindsight..if only the ref had yellow carded the Chilean player who kicked out and red carded the Argentinian player for rolling around clutching his head in the area of his eye when there had been no contact.....we might have had a contest.
Now both teams are playing on Sunday (one in the third place game and the other in the final). Should be an interesting afternoon.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
OK I am a fan and a blogger, not a neutral observer. The quality of this game was looking shaky to begin with. TFC often struggles on the road and the Houston Dynamo is going for the record of MLS minutes without allowing a goal. So fans were not expecting a goal fest.
Houston did have the upper hand at the start, a hit post and a handful of near misses seemed to be a hint that they would start scoring, but it never happened.
Edu getting a red card in the first half turned the game into a bog. The Dynamo were throwing what fire power they had and TFC was holding their positions, marking their men and allowing Serge to make some solid saves. It was ugly, but it was efficient ugly.
Credit to Mo for some cagey substitutions. Poz for Dichio was a bit heartbreaking, but you could see the sense. Lombardo for Samuels was a wonderful move. Lombardo would keep the pressure on whenever given the chance (which was the role of Collin Samuels too, but the fresh legs helped). Lombardo's counter-attacks down the right with O"Brien and Wynne kept the flicker of hope for a goal well against the run of play alive.
Back to that red card moment. I thought the call was a bit harsh and seemed to be the result of a circus on the field. You got the feeling that TFC lost a debate. I think that Maurice Edu is a quality player, a solid rookie and a fair play sort of individual. It was a mistimed challenge and did not seem vicious or reckless.
One more road game to go and TFC now have 6 points from 5 games, which is decent and keeps them in the playoff picture. The game next weekend against Columbus Crew now looms very large as I think they hold the playoff spot that TFC covets.
PS- Houston did set the MLS record of longest streak of minutes with no goals allowed during the second half.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I love LA. I am a child of the sixties and California was the pinnacle in my growing, but frozen Canadian mind. Beach Boys and Disney, Hollywood and Johnny Carson, it was the glamour capital of my little world. My uncle and my grandfather moved there in 1959 (it was the job loss due to the cancelling of the Avro Arrow, the Canadian fighter jet that never made it, that sparked the decision to go south). I visited LA twice as a kid and have made sure that my own kids have been there many times. In recent years I tend to visit annually, my next trip down is August. Prior to TFC, the MLS games I have attended have been Galaxy games.
I am also a huge fan of David Beckham. Most of those LA trips have been to be with my uncle as we cheer on England . The land of my ancestors and relatives has broken our hearts at World Cups and Euros for decades now. Yet every new cup means new faith. Every fan has known that certain teams have an individual who has meant everything in recent Cups. Portugal success = Figo success, France success = Zidane success and England success = Beckham success. Beckham is a special talent. No matter how many birthdays he racks up, I would pay money to watch him play
Now I have never been a fan of Manchester United. However I was unable to cheer against them in the Beckham years.
So this arrival seems close to perfect for me. Superstar soccer player from England decides to play for Los Angeles. So throw away your swipes at his glamour and his wife. Forget whether you think he will make a difference to the profile of the game in North America. I am just plain thrilled that he is here and can't wait for the Galaxy game in Toronto.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
The first half was a stalemate and ended scoreless. Carl Robinson and Ronnie O'Brien both looked off their top games. There was a constant parade of knocks and minor injuries that kept the game from creating a flow or energy. Edu and Andy Welsh were both slowed by collisions and contributed little. Dichio and Samuel were ok, but with little on offer from the midfield they did have to fend for themselves.
Jeff Cunningham did not start and did not see the pitch. Andrew Boyens also was not playing. Considering the revolving doors of trades, call-ups for U-20, Gold Cup and Copa, it should be no surprise that TFC's starting 11 was a new variation.
The parade of new faces was not as dramatic as would appear at first. Left back Todd Dunivant would have played with Marvell Wynne last year in New York and prior to that would have played some time with Marshall for the Galaxy. Collin Samuel was playing with Wynne for the first time, but with Samuel's spectacular lack of finish, Marvell could have easily thought he was still playing with Jeff Cunningham.
The TFC goal was a brilliant bolt out of the blue. Marvell Wynne sent the ball long from around the halfway line, Maurice Edu controlled the ball off of his chest and , while falling, fired the ball into the net. Wynne and Edu had strong second halfs and Ronnie O' Brien came along with force. Collin Samuel was active and maddening, he has the potential to score hat-tricks based on last night's performance. He has to finish.
So it was a turbulent ride tonight. Willing to settle for a tie, mad to see TFC fall behind, thrilled to watch them even it up on a brilliant goal, willing to settle for a tie and then at the final whistle convinced that a win was there for the taking but for some finishing, pretty well sums the game up.
A couple of Still Kicking observations
-Calen Carr of Chicago had an impressive headband. It looked so wide that it probably was bought with matching mittens.
-The TFC need for depth on the bench is still there. It would have been nice to see another substitute with goal scoring potential come on late in the game, but Cunningham is being saved to ensure recovery and who else was there ? Andrea Lombardo would have fit the bill.
Chicago - Chad Barrett (pk) 70
Toronto - Maurice Edu 78
Chicago- CJ Brown 31
Toronto - M. Edu 34
Toronto- Jim Brennan 69 (arguing the pk call)
Toronto - Chris Pozniak 76
cheers and maybe more in the morning
Next game - Houston on Sunday July 15th evening game
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
First half gave us the two players involved in the trade between the two teams providing the goals.
Jeff Cunningham 19th minute
Alecko Eskandarian 44th minute (penalty kick)
It was great to see Cunningham finish one of his breakaways. Seeing Esky go down (with the help of Posniak's clumsy tangle) and then score, eliminated any former TFC loyalty that remained in this corner. Nothing against Esky really, it just sealed the deal.
The second half began with Cunningham getting a knock/twist/twinge on a challenge on the RSL keeper. It then seemed that the camera was going to stay on the injured Cunningham until an intimate moment was broadcast. As my dad used to say upon hearing of a player's groin injury " that will hurt his performance both on and off the field".
Collin Samuel shifted to striker and Andy Welsh came into the game for Cunningham.
TFC always seemed to be the team in control, if not dominant, through the second half. RSL had some speedy counter-attacks, but did not have prolonged pressure or control.
I'm not convinced that the challenge on Samuel in the box was truly a foul, but the penalty kick was awarded and he made no mistake on his shot. Certainly TFC was more than overdue to have a borderline call go their way.
Andy Welsh made sure that the fans back home had one final heart attack as his pass back almost gave RSL something they did not deserve.
The injuries did pile up- Welsh getting a turf rash to the face, Cunningham with his pull, Sam Reynolds had to be replaced with 5 minutes to go. Mo will have some worries ahead.
But allow me to end with a Swirsky.....
TFC win, TFC win, TFC win !
Monday, July 2, 2007
Mo Johnston, no doubt trying to find a new road game success formula, made four changes to his starting eleven. Sam Reynolds was new in net, Chris Pozniak played right back in place of Marvell Wynne (off to the Copa), Collin Samuel started on the left side of midfield in place of Andy Welsh and Todd Dunivant played left back in place of Kevin Goldthwaite, the man who was traded for him. For a team with so many new faces, the TFC held up very well in the first half, with the exception of a few seconds and that was all KC needed. TFC had the majority of possession and a strong advantage in scoring chances in the first 45, but it was Kansas City who had the only goal on a quick counter attack and an accurate shot from Michael Harrington.
Reynolds might have been a shade out of alignment on the goal, but his troubles really began with a scrambling defense trying to get back from a corner kick down the other end seconds earlier.
Cunningham. O’Brien and Dichio all had chances to score throughout the first half and at halftime it was possible to have a touch of optimism about TFC’s chances.
The second half started brilliantly for TFC. Some smart ball movement sprung an attack down the left side and then the ball was swung out to the right finding Ronnie O’Brien. He was able to send a great cross into the box and Danny Dichio headed in the equalizer. Dichio was able to elude the two central KC defenders with the simplest of moves, one step forward, then two steps back. Allow Dichio to be loose in front of the net like that and it will cost you.
The game was pretty much in balance for a while until Andrew Boyens picked up his second yellow card of the night and TFC was down to 10 players. Dichio dropped back into a central midfield role for only a few minutes before being substituted for Marco Reda to shore up the defence. Andy Welsh came in for Collin Samuel to add fresh legs (and perhaps to show Mo’s continuing faith in him- is he the super-sub off the bench that has been lacking ?).
Kansas City kept up the pressure with their advantage for the remainder of the game. Sam Reynolds made some excellent saves, a couple of them from close enough that the Wizard shooter was breathing on him. I think that Reynolds has played his way onto the squad tonight (was he the reserve keeper we borrowed from Chivas USA or what ?)
Andy Welsh was able to both help out defensively and provide some counter-attack speed right to the end. He had a last second shot at net that looked like the real deal. Jeff Cunningham was able to keep the KC defenders threatened from time to time and that was a useful safety valve to help the Toronto defending pack. TFC held the tie and got the point.
I have harped on this before, but here it goes again. I am driven crazy by the extreme homer announcers in Kansas City. The play-by-play guy’s voice goes haywire with excitement when KC is developing an attack. He stated late in the game that it was an “absolute joy” to commentate the games of this team since they never play for a tie. The analyst is worse. In the middle of the second half on a wide shot taken (I think) by Movsisyan, the fellow giving the analysis of the game said “ That’s ok. That’s alright, just keep going”. Buddy, that is not analysis, that is cheerleading. I know to go easy on The Score, the commentary and the fuzzy picture quality are not their fault and without them I would be watching this game on my computer screen, but it was a dreadful product. I expect the KC crew to know little of the visiting TFC. That is forgivable, but their cheering drives me batty .
Monday, June 25, 2007
Todd Dunivant is the name of the new TFC player, obtained in this trade. Life with TFC is seldom quiet....
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Do you remember watching TFC on television back in those winless/goalless nights? A struggling team that did not seem to have had enough time together to gel and had new players arriving every game?
It was a convincing arguement for time travel Saturday night as the TFC went from the Father's Day world-beaters to the team of April right before your very eyes.
Dobson and Forrest on Sportsnet were able to comment a million times that nothing was going TFC's way (was it foreshadowing when Forrest called TFC "Canada" in the early part of the game?). It was a combination of ugly and listless for most of the night. Then towards the end it threatened to turn chippy as the frustration level increased. It is hindsight talking, but I think that some late substitutions would at least have given some players a rest and made it look like TFC was not throwing in the towel.
Rather than report all the gruesome details and write something that I may later regret, I leave you with...
The Still Kicking Questions
1 What is the health of Greg Sutton? The Mo Johnston interview seemed to indicate that there is real concern that Sutton's season may be at an end. OMG - what happens now?
2 What is it about the New England Revolution that allows them to own the TFC ? Accumulated score is now NE -7 TFC -0. They were missing Twellman and more to Gold Cup duty. They seem solid in every position and have an ability to finish in the box that allows them to make something out of nothing or close to nothing.
3 Am I the only one who thinks that Mo Johnston and NE Revolution coach Steve Nichol look very alike. I am suspecting that Nichol wears glasses just to ensure that viewing audience knows which brother they are looking at.
4 Why is the team so thin? Where is the player who can come off the bench- the super sub? When things seem listless and ugly TFC turns to?
5 Is this an omen for the road trip? There has to be a way to shake things around and change the TFC road story. Does TFC have a third jersey yet? Order one.
6 Did Jeff Cunningham take the night off or was he just waiting for Andy Welsh to cross the ball?
7 Watching that motley militia behind the advertising signs fire their muskets convinces me all the more that the TFC nickname should be the Redcoats so that we have the opportunity to fire back. One day. Who would want to throw a seagull at a revolutionary?
8 It is wonderful that Mighty Mo has been clear about the goal being the playoffs, but man, that is hard to dream about after tonight.
9 Shouldn't the TFC game have been the antidote for that Canada-US robbery?
PS - Cheers for Marvell Wynne being called up to the US team for the Copa America.
10 Can we go back to Father's Day now?
Sunday, June 17, 2007
First a report of what happened on the field.
A quick goal by Mo Edu early in the first half set the tone. It was a scramble in front of the Dallas net and Dichio's attempt at goal rebounded perfectly to Maurice Edu who fired it in. I thought that the recent Thursday night game against Real Salt Lake would take a toll on Dallas as the day wore on, but it seemed to play a part in the early going. Toronto was going forward with skilled passing and Dallas was going to exploit the counter-attack possibilities especially on the right side. The speed of Dallas wingers kept TFC honest in the back, but the back four stayed strong and the keeper Djekanovic had very little work to do.
The second Toronto goal was Danny Dichio on a beautifully timed header off of Carl Robinson's free kick. Dichio was a constant factor (why did it seem that every ball played to Dichio would result in a foul, roughly 50/50 for and against ??). He seemed to hurt his leg late in the half. He played out the half but did not have his usual speed and energy in the closing minutes.
So to start the second half Dichio was replaced by Lombardo and Dallas brought in Ruiz as a striker. I think that Ruiz's flying elbow to the head of Hastings in the Canada - Guatemala game in Gold Cup play yesterday meant that there was a cloud over his head in the eyes of the TFC defense (and the fans too). You had to wonder at the decision to play a player who had only played the day before, but it may reflect Dallas' injury woes. The ref had to keep his hand on the yellow card throughout the half as there was a steady parade of bookable, ill tempered fouls that fell a few steps below evil and dangerous.
It was easy to see that beating Dallas meant a lot to Ronnie O'Brien. He was dominant, elusive and played with an edge to his game. The third goal, the Carl Robinson goal seemed to signal the end. The ball was pushed out to the right, Ronnie O'Brien swung it out to the far left and Andy Welsh (or was it Goldthwaite?) crossed it in to Carl Robinson's head and into the back of the net. Robinson seemed to be two strides away from any Dallas defender. It was now Toronto's party and Dallas wanted to get away because they had both a long drive home and they were going to have to drive home the baby-sitter too!
TFC withstood a half-hearted attack from then on. There was a steady supply of counter-attacks from Welsh, Lombardo and Cunningham. Jeff Cunningham squandered a chance which found him alone with the keeper. The longer that Cunningham did not score, the more Andrea Lombardo seemed annoyed at his partner's selfish ways. Then Cunningham converted a cross from O'Brien with a diving header to bring him into the world of TFC scorers. Not a minute too soon it is easy to say. Even Mo was looking peeved on the sideline at those missed chances.
and now to the crowd....the TFC zeitgeist if you will....
You have to pull yourself back from this process of being a fan/blogger and give your head a shake on a day like this. I know there are dedicated folks across the USA who have supported soccer and the MLS for a decade who look upon Toronto as gate-crashers and johnny-come-latelies and I can understand much of that. I know that there are huge hordes of soccer snobs in Ontario and huger hordes of soccer haters who are happy to ignore what is happening. But I say it is a mistake to miss what is happening by the lake.
It is hard to think of TFC as an expansion team. Two and half months into the season and yes, the team looks solid enough, but more importantly the supporters are 100% behind the team and they expect all this and more. I have spent most of my life as a Toronto sports fan and I have never known this confidence and expectation before. Success for a Toronto team is usually viewed as a fluke and the usual incompetence is just around the corner. Forget all that now, this is a jubilant force and the team seems to rise to our roar. Chris Bosh of the Raptors was at the game today and I wish I knew his thoughts. He and the other Raptor players have always complimented the energy of the Toronto crowd, but so much of the ACC routine is pre-fab and seems to have little to do with the team and the game on the court. I could live a happy life never again seeing those Raptor ticket holders smile goofily and wave as they appear on the big screen even though the team has just blown a double digit lead. So Chris Bosh, this was different today, wasn't it? This was Toronto as it has never been before. Chris Bosh, do you want to play soccer this summer??
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Dwayne DeRosario is well known to MLS fans. Paul Stalteri shows up on our EPL Saturday mornings playing for Spurs.
and Patrice Bernier
all play in Europe and were a revelation. The Canadian teams that I grew up with were able to defend all day and were backed by a solid keeper, but had nothing up front. This new generation Canada has attacking talent in the players mentioned above and more.
These guys might be financially beyond Toronto FC, but I hope not...I really hope not. I know that MLS teams have salary caps- but this Toronto team has a sold-out season and the potential to break very big in both TV ratings and merchandise sales. Splashing out some money on a talented young Canadian would be a brilliant move.
I admit that there has been more than a hint of jealousy in my introduction this year into the world of US soccer. I read the blogs and I watch the MLS teams that play in Toronto. The fact that the American soccer fan knows their MLS players in both the local club and national team context is a luxury.
I don't think American soccer fans understand how little American national team soccer gets televised in Canada. The years and years of constant failure in international soccer for the Canadian team has meant almost no CONCACAF coverage at all. Even on the channel which covered the game today followed the game with their sports news show. Top story was the trading of a hockey player. In June they pushed back the Canadian soccer team, US open golf, baseball - including a game in Toronto and made the trading of a hockey player their top story. All I can say is the Canadian sports media inhabit a different universe than myself and those I value.
But enough bleating, Go Canada in the semis on Thursday in Chicago !
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Expect more signings and moves in the days ahead. Trading a little used striker for defending help makes a lot of sense.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
TFC played with the Jersey Expensive Drinks for the first half. Jeff Cunningham powered in his first TFC goal. He was able to convert Andy Welsh's superb cross. I think I am far more patient with Welsh than many of the online critics. You can see why his usual wonky ways, all that speed that leads to give-aways or crosses that never come, would drive some fans bonkers. But on the goal tonight as Welsh took on a clump of defenders at top speed you can see what Mo sees in Welsh. May we have much more of the wonderful side of Welsh.
The second half saw Juan Pablo Angel take the game away with two goals (although the second was just him taking advantage of a poor TFC clearance).
I have been a proponent of signing a DP player sooner rather than later. Just was not sure who I wanted and who was feasible. Then I watched the Canada - Costa Rica Gold Cup game played in Florida tonight on television and De Guzman looked incredible. He scored both of Canada's goals. The move that had me shouting out loud was late in the game when he stomped on the ball and sent it spinning through the legs of the defender. There is a player for the DP role! Is he at all attainable?
June 15th seems to be the date that TFC can add a player or two to their roster. I will admit that I do not understand the MLS roster rules, but I do feel that we need somebody/anybody. This is not a knock against anyone on the squad right now, but TFC needs help in both defense and the midfield. A star would be great, but any depth would be a help.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
TFC was facing a MLS team (Colorado Rapids) that has had a strong start to their season. The Rapids have a reputation of an efficient not flashy team that does enough to win.
TFC’s number one goalkeeper, the man who has played every minute of TFC history, was off on national team duties.
Although the starting 11 only had Carl Robinson missing, the bench was certainly weakened by those national team duties with the Gold Cup
Plus there was the freaky omen that Conor Casey, a player traded off to the Rapids more than a month ago, had his mug shot prominently on the TFC ticket today.
Well it just shows to go you.
Team reputations can rise and fall with a flash and the Rapids did not look strong or efficient in the first half. TFC took the momentum away from the visitors and could have had a much bigger lead going into halftime. Wynne set up Dichio for the opening goal. I love it when Marvell Wynne leaps into the attack. O'Brien's corner set-up Boyen's header for the second.
Keeper Greg Sutton missing? No problem. Except for one flash of an attack against the run of play that resulted in the Colorado goal, Srdjan Djekanovic was a capable replacement.
So much for a depleted bench – both Gala and Canizalez played useful minutes in their second half appearances.
Chris Pozniak played an active game in the central midfield role usually patrolled by Carl Robinson.
As for the ticket possible jinx, Casey looked like a poor man’s Dichio. Don’t think there is one fan out there regretting the trade.
This TFC team is building nicely. It is yet another challenge ahead with NY Red Bulls coming in on Wednesday. Jeff Cunningham has more work to do to earn the love of the TFC faithful. If his goal scoring record with TFC starts against NY it will start the turning things in his direction.
Best Banner today was the one that had Cunningham and Dicho drawn beautifully and between them was the title.
"The Fast and The Furious".
Blogger observations- (understanding that the difference between a blogger and a sportswriter is that a blogger can throw in stupid, self referential extras)
Sunblock was required today and should be distributed upon entry at all summer games. I think I left with my skin as red as my shirt.
Food consumed today
A cornbread sandwich
BBQ bratwurst on a bun
California roll sushi
Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream stick
(give me a break, game started at 3:30 and partner and I realized upon entry that we had yet to eat- it was a busy day and it was hot and humid)
A Nestea Iced Tea
A small but delicious Carlsberg
2 bottles of water- they need to be refillable and bigger
Saturday, May 26, 2007
MINUTE 2 Oh my God....a Columbus goal from Andy Herron
I was going to write about my fond memories of hearing the home announcers in both New England and Kansas City earlier this season when Marvell Wynne was beaten too easily. What is the story on the tent behind the Crew goal, it makes it look like the circus is in town and using their parking lot.
MINUTE 17 A smart cross from Cunningham on the diagonal and Pozniak has a shot in a great spot and forces the Crew keeper to make a good save. TFC are starting to look like they are snapping out of the early game shock.
MINUTE 27 Danny Dichio, he has the first home goal and now has the first road goal!! That was a shot out of the blue, a first touch to be proud of. Nigel and Craig are already dreaming of what the Dichio and Cunningham combination up front could bring. This changes everything, just not used to a change of fortune in road games.
MINUTE 36 Crew scores - Andy Herron gets another. TFC were not able to clear the ball down the left and Columbus took advantage of sloppy play at the back.
Wow that set up for Cunningham from Dichio was smooth. I believe that we TFC watchers are learning how critical Carl Robinson is for the control of the midfield by his absence..
Andy Welsh is a player that I cheer for and see so much potential in. Yet he is driving me crazy with his indecisive play on the ball. I am fighting the urge to moan everytime he has it.
Time for a cold one..
MINUTE 48 What a cracker from Jim Brennan, he scores from a free kick quite a distance out - Crew 2- TFC 2
Dichio puts Cunningham into the clear. He goes for the far post and just misses. There is a lethal sense to the attack of DIchio/Cunningham.
Minute 70 something Time for a substitution I would say. Reda looks tired but do we have another central defender...
Cunningham keeps coming up with chances.
But then how could he not put that one away !!
The game just seems to hang in the balance.
Minute 86 Cunningham says goodnight and Buddle comes in. Jeff Cunningham certainly sparkled in the attack tonight. If this is what he brings, you can see why Mo made the deal this week.
A point on the road, 2 goals on the road. A good night, a good effort and a sign of things to come.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
A new era dawned tonight.
TFC was the home team and don't you dare think otherwise.
The crowd showed something special at BMO. It was a touch of passion and pride, of sophistication and sense of history and a wink of y'all come on back now.
The passion on display was the TFC support , constant and dominant. The chants were clear, the energy was high and the TFC Massive was energetic.
There was sophistication and awareness of the game's history in both the ovation for Eusebio at the pre-game ceremony and the ovation for Rui Costa when he was substituted late in the second half.
There was national pride as more and more Canadians took the field and held Benfica from the score sheet. Maybe the defensive effort was showing and the counter-attack chances small for TFC, but the tie was earned.
As for the wink, I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth here, it is just a feeling. But I think that many of the Benfica fans were taken in by TFC and the groundwork for their return to the stadium as TFC supporters was laid. The all for one strategy is paying off. Maybe a handful of people were thinking as they left " I am not coming back to this stadium until the return of Benfica or the Portugese national team comes to town". I think that most left thinking that it is easy, fun and exciting to support both an old country team and the local new kid in town.
Just a feeling, but team and fans did themselves proud tonight ....
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The only media site reporting it as a rumour right now is Steven Goff, the Soccer Insider at Washington Post. However a few message boards are saying that confirmation is on Esky's Facebook site.
I won't comment further until it becomes official.
ps - Now Steven Goff has it as confirmed by Esky himself ..
But still no confirmation or information on what was given in return...
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Here are the mistakes by the lake today…
It seems to me that one constant tactic used by DC United (Larry Millson in the Globe and Mail today wondered if the DC stands for Diving Club) was to save yourself from many lost challenges by dropping and getting a call from a ref who bought it everytime.
When TFC had the ball, Welsh and Dichio were taking a beating. You expect Dichio to be in the battle, but the ref did not seem to keep the situation level and under control. Andy Welsh’s ankles must have needed ice at game end as he was being taken out low time and time again.
Three games in a week is too much for this small squad. They cannot change the schedule, but they can increase their squad can’t they? If anyone can enlighten me on MLS roster limits I would be appreciative.
We lost the battle for the central midfield in the second half. Edu and Robinson were scrambling more than creating and too often balls played wide to O’Brien and Welsh lead to them looking awfully isolated.
Stayed for the first half of the Reserves game. It was not the messy afterthought of last week’s game. Having a concession open was very thoughtful. Buddle and Lombardo were the TFC Reserves strikers. They did not click together well in either their substitution time in the main game or in the first half of the reserves match. I am starting to suspect that they don't like each other. I can't put my finger on it, but a lack of cameraderie seems to be there.
The sightlines from my seats to the field are excellent when the play is directly in front of me. I am west side – upper deck. When I have to swivel to my left to watch play in the far half the traffic from people migrating to and from their seats in the aisle by the doorway is a constant distraction since you are forced to look through or around them.
I divide the folks of the world into 2 camps, fans and tourists.
The fans get there early and get their snacks and beverages in before the start of the game. They might do some coordination so that they have beer x in their hand at the start of play and might go and get beer y quickly at half time and not miss a minute of play.
The tourists arrive late and get up and down constantly. They think that they are attending a pizza slice festival and “oh, isn’t that cute there are some soccer players down there and now I have to saunter off for a coke and fries. Tourists leave with 10 minutes to play because they want to beat the traffic. You know what really helps you beat the traffic ? Not coming out to the game in the first place because all you are going to do is obstruct the view of those fans who truly are watching the game.
Tourists stay home.
Tourists, the Blue Jays love you.
And yeah, I would not be this cranky if that penalty kick hadn't been given.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Andy Welsh got his head perfectly to a ball off of a free kick in the first half and the goal had to stand up for the duration. Houston were neither dominated nor dominating, if you know what I mean. They always retained a sense of danger when they were on the ball, but the Toronto defense was able to bend (and slip and stumble) but did not break. Canadian MLS star Dwayne DeRosario looked average for want of a better term. Watching his team had me questioning the team name - Dynamo. They did not seem dynamic. More of a chippy team that flopped at every passing wind and benefited from a ref who could have been auditioning for the role of Mayor of Houston.
The Esky and Buddle combination up front looked rusty. They do not seem to be on the same page often, if at all. Buddle was a force going forward and Esky displayed his usual high energy - but as a pairing or individually they never had that sense of lethal finish. When Andrea Lombardo came on for Esky he was able to stay active and keep the Houston defenders from joining the attack. Lombardo was furious with Buddle when the best scoring chance of the second half went awry. Buddle had a clean break at goal and Lombardo had worked his way in the clear trailing at the far post. I think the anger was a little after the fact, Buddle had every right to take his shot in that situation. But I think Lombardo's annoyance might reflect a touch of impatience that is growing both on and off the field.
The slippery conditions were not doing any favours for Greg Sutton. He might have had moments where the handle was hard to find on that slick ball. To keep a clean sheet in those conditions was worthy of a salute.
Maurice Edu remains one of my faves and had a solid game. Robinson was involved in some tackles and did the unsung work in the midfield, but did not look as strong as Saturday.
So happy to report that no projectiles were thrown, no showboat drunks on the field and the south enders were at a new height in their musical performance. The songs were clear. the clapping and the coordination thereof was top quality. From the west stand you can see the support spreading and it seems to have started jumping the gaps- in other words the fans in the sections(both east and west sides)that are closest to the south end are starting to participate in clapping, singing and chanting along with the Red Patch and U Sector. No tribal drum group tonight and I think that was a good thing. Oh and the TFC Superstar song seems to be really catching on. The one to the tune of Jesus Christ Superstar that goes T O R, O N T, OOOOOO TFC. It sounds beautiful ringing out on a night when beauty was in short supply. But that is a weather comment - we have our first winning streak so rejoice !!!
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
"In only two games, Toronto's BMO Field has been established as one of the most difficult and intimidating places for visiting teams to travel to, but it must be everyone's responsibility to ensure this reputation is for the right reasons. The Stadium and Club will be taking a very hard line on the following infractions:
- Throwing projectiles of any kind onto the playing field
- Fans entering the field of play
- Any action that jeopardizes the safety of the players, officials or fans"
I love a rowdy crowd, but the energy has to be positive and the three rules above have to be considered fundamental. We can be great supporters of a great team. It is the beautiful game after all.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
My heart is red with TFC pride in honour of the first ever victory….
I suspected that it would be worth the wait, that the goal drought would end with a flood. (biblical, you know). They played with heart and head and skills galore.
I will leave it to my fellow bloggers to give their intelligent ratings on the players today. I would give most a rating of 11,
Maurice Edu and Carl Robinson would get 12s
Ronnie O’Brien would get a rating of a billion and a half. He made that game winning goal with his run down the right side.
And I would even give Edson Buddle a passing mark –mostly because of that nice 2nd half back heel.
I am also red as a steamed lobster with indignation at the beloved Danny Dichio being red carded for (gasp) trying to make a play for the ball in the air. He might have had his arm up a little, but to kick and push and cause a scuffle was a foolish overreaction by the Chicago keeper. The teams did manage to put a lid on the fireworks and get on with the game, but that keeper should have been gone, the Chicago player who was red carded seemed a peacemaker to me.
Danny Dichio will get a hat trick on July 29th when the Fire visit Toronto next. You heard it here first.
A few final observations.
I hate that song- you know the goodbye song from the sixties, by that famous band Spiral Staircase. If that is the level of wit that you can muster in the form of song- keep your lips together.
I hate fools who run on the field at game end and act as if dodging security is somehow the equivalent of playing an excellent game of football. The team is saluting the fans and the fans are saluting right back. If you lack the sense or sobriety to salute the team and thank them for a super day of entertainment, either go home or lie down and sleep it off.
Monday, May 7, 2007
Benfica visits on May 23
Not sure of the timing of this visit, when does Portugal's league end ??
Aston Villa visits on July 25
Late July is a traditional time for English teams to play warm-up games abroad, since their season starts up in late August.
These games are already included in the season ticket package.
For those wanting to buy tickets, the prices range from 95 to 195 dollars.
This is interesting news, but the prices for these games makes me think that friendlies may not be included in
season tickets in the future or the price of season tickets will go much higher next year. After all, if I choose to sell my pair of
tickets for both games, I think I could break even on the season.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
A bitter result; we were not outplayed and KC did not deserve the points, but they did take their opportunity and exploited it. It happened so quickly, I'm not sure where the breakdown came from.
ps. cheers to the fans who threw their beer at the celebrating KC Wiz. Why were the players trying to get as close as they could to the crowd? I saw Eddie Johnson gesture towards the crowd. Considering the price of beer, the shower was of a quality he did not deserve.
Now that I have seen them in the flesh - allow me to throw around some TFC verdicts.
Sutton played well and it was wonderful to see him go down field twice in the final moments. Thanks MoJo for showing that this was a big game in your eyes too.
Robinson and Edu are gems, tireless workers, confident with the ball. They were the heart of the team today.
Danny Dichio and Esky were showing signs of figuring each other out - stick with them, I say, and the goals will come.
Wynne and Boyens had their shaky moments moving the ball for sections in the first half, but Wynne started finding his space down the wing more and more as the game progressed. Where was his link to the midfield in the second half ? Nagumura seemed to go missing in action and poor Wynne would find himself surrounded by a horde of KC defenders.
Welsh was moving down his wing and was a positive force all day. I was not happy to see him come off. I wanted Nagamura off. When finally he gets pulled, I have to groan because on comes Buddle. Where does Ronnie O'Brien fit into this midfield when he gets healthy ? Maybe Nagamura is best in a central role ?
We need some attack down the right side !
Boyens and Brennan were a solid pair in the middle.
Overall the team did seem to tire in the second half. Wonder how the ref enjoyed the game seeing as there were moments when he seemed to have never encountered the sport before in his life.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The Score begins at a disadvantage with their score band across the bottom of your screen. Then when you throw in the supplied Kansas City commentary...I can't decide whether to turn off the sound or just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
Have you ever seen a television broadcast of a sports event where they informed you of the location of the aftergame party ?
Have you ever seen sports on tv where the broadcast team and the home team coaches are wearing the same uniform warm-ups ?
Were you surprised after seeing the broadcasters in uniform to hear them use the term "we".
See you Saturday for the home opener.
I think the view facing the city's skyline is the better view, just hope that staring off at the great view does not become a habit -looking away from the product on the field. The sight lines seem superb, I felt that I was looking down nicely on the south net. I don't expect to be a fan of Field Turf, but I give it marks for being a solid shade of green.
Worried about the sound system. I fear that it will be used to dominate every spare second a'la Raptors. Trust the fans to make the noise, I say and save the music for when the game is not being played.
The west side of BMO stadium seems odd. No entry gates, only the VIP entrance which is not marked in anyway.
Everyone seemed cheerful and friendly. Having staff(Security? Food? Plumbing?) walking around with bluetooth earpluggers gave the place a slick MLSE feel. If I stumble across one guy talking to himself I think I have witnessed something important. If I see a dozen I just think they're showing off. But that could just be me.
Bring on Saturday !