Thursday, August 30, 2007

Farewell Andy Welsh

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

The Return of Still Kicking

I am back.
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.

TFC 0 DC United 1

The opening seven minutes of enterprising play had the home support at BMO Field believing that it might be Toronto FC's day to snap that unwanted goalless streak. However, two or three shots including Todd Dunivant's effort that curled over the bar in the second minute, left the TFC fans begging.

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

TFC 0, Chivas USA 2

Last Saturday, the scene for TFC supporters was a strange one, if not unanticipated. With BMO field being on the CNE fairgrounds, it was obvious to anyone who bothered to think about it that the day would come when it would actually be almost a hassle to get to the game.

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

Stuck In LA

It was near impossible to even get the NY RB versus TFC score here in LA, never mind watch the game.
TFC needs to score. Who holds the MLS record for shut outs in a season.
Who played ??

Monday, August 6, 2007

TFC 0 LA Galaxy 0 - Tonight the galaxy, without their big star, did not shine

It could have been worse, but it should have been better.
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

Refund ??

I am thrilled that the Beckham/Galaxy at Toronto game is spiralling off into the hype stratosphere. Grabbing media attention was part of the package when signing Becks, so it is ok by me to see it pay off.
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.