It was an entertaining night. It was great to be back in those flimsy red seats with a bit of breeze coming off the lake. The game played many roles, a homecoming, a test of TFC calibre and a pre-season run around for the opposition to name just a few. We knew we were back into the swing of things when the ref started to make strange calls. It was as if we had never left.
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.