Monday, December 22, 2008

Season's Greetings


When I started Mistake by the Lake at the outset of TFC season 1, it was a whim. I had a hunch that this was a team that I was going to care deeply about, but that was all I had. I have always struggled with a love/hate relationship with writing. Some days I think I can string together some sentences and gather some coherent thoughts. Many days I am convinced I possess an empty head. I knew I had a passion for coaching and was dedicated to always learning the ways of the game. However, I remain a thousand rungs below tactical genius. A fan with a blog is what I am. Two years on and the blog part of that last sentence still surprises me.
In all of these calculations, I still have trouble with understanding that I have an audience. Boy, "audience" sounds so pretentious. I mean, it shocks my little brain that anyone reads this stuff.

To those who do, my heartfelt wishes go out for a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hannukah and a wonderful holiday. Enjoy the time with your family because when you get down to it, they (and season tickets) are all you've got.
All the New Year has to offer any of us is a new TFC season to make it a happy one, but may it be a happy one for you in a multitude of other ways.

Peace and love are on overflow today. Now when will the Designated Player signing be revealed ??

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wow, Mo comes down the chimney and leaves a big gift under the tree !!


Toronto FC pulled off a deal yesterday that easily qualifies as the biggest yet in TFC history. Gone is Julius James, the 2008 first draft pick, and allocation money. Arriving in Toronto is Dwayne DeRosario. He is a four time MLS Cup champ, Larry Millson of the Globe and Mail points out that he is a player who has never missed the playoffs. May this run continue !

Wow. A proven MLS all-star, a hometown hero, a player who can play many spots in the midfield or as striker, a 30 year old who fits into the salary picture, this trade brightens the offseason and the future brilliantly.
This move also sends a message to the fans - "thanks for sticking with us, the club is serious about making the next step". It is only the first big move of the offseason (although resigning Robinson and Dichio and only losing Jarrod Smith to the expansion draft were all important enough). The 2009 draft picks are on the horizon, the DP search continues and Mo agrees that the need for a central defender ( or two, I may add) and a striker. Trader Mo has returned with a passion.

Now if you read the forums and internet chatter, there are some TFC fans who have taken the position that obtaining DeRo was the solution to all problems. I have never been a member of that club. I have seen his qualities in Cup finals, but he has had a couple of nondescript performances here against Toronto and the Canadian Men's World Cup campaign dampened every reputation.
I am thrilled to welcome him to the team, but the midfield remains a work in progress. I remember those afternoons troubled at the way Guevara often acted as though Ricketts did not exist, although this improved as the season wore on. Which of these two does DeRo replace ? Or does Toronto just add him to the midfield and goes with a 4-4-1-1 formation ? It would not surprise me if the draft adds another midfielder or two (unless trades take them away). There is forum chatter saying that Mo is going to sign Keon Daniel from Trinidad, a young midfielder. If these are problems, honestly they are the type you love to have.
Wow, Happy Holidays indeed.

Monday, December 8, 2008

midwinter mutterings

Nothing much going on in the TFC world. I am hoping that it is the calm before the storm. It would be nice to get a present under the tree. A signing or a trade ? I suppose we will have to wait for the January MLS draft for some activity.

The top two newspapers in town, the Globe and Mail and the Star have removed their Toronto FC/Soccer bloggers. This is a tough time in the media. So offseason TFC coverage is a logical cut when you have larger budget concerns as advertising tumbles. it would be great to have both back at full coverage by next season.
I enjoyed Ben Knight's G +M blog from time to time (and will read continue to read him in his new location), but he was no Larry Millson, I guess Millson just covered the team and Knight was stuck with the lifestyle side, you know - the flavour of the crowd and what direction should Canadian soccer go in ? stuff.
Morgan Campbell of the Star was a different matter, you always felt that he came to the footy world reluctantly and he was passing time humouring us until something better came along. Well, he has moved to something different ( I won't describe an assignment that will involve watching 182 Blue Jay games as something better). The Star's first reporter on the TFC beat could have been a lot worse, so it won't be a stretch to hope for someone better. I guess as one of the converted, I want a writer who will preach to me. I am happy to follow the writings of someone who is both a pro and barely conceals a passion for the game. Dare I cross sports here, someone in the style of say Grange of the G+M and Doug Smith of the Star in the world of Raptors/basketball. Maybe one day ...

Sigi has left Columbus and appears to be heading for Seattle, is the latest MLS coaching news. Ah, the west coast lifestyle awaits..

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

09 Season home openers announced - only 109 days to go

Today , from the MLS site...

REGULAR SEASON - WEEK 1 (FIRST KICK)

Thursday, March 19, 2009
New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders FC, 9 p.m. (ESPN2/Deportes)
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Columbus Crew at Houston Dynamo, 8 p.m. (Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol)
Chicago Fire at FC Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Toronto FC at Kansas City Wizards, 8:30 p.m.
Colorado Rapids at Chivas USA, 10:30 pm (Fox Soccer Channel/Fox Sports en Espanol)
New England Revolution at San Jose Earthquakes, 10:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 22, 2009
D.C. United at Los Angeles Galaxy, 3 p.m. (TeleFutura)

REGULAR SEASON - WEEK 2

Saturday, March 28, 2008
Toronto FC at Columbus Crew, 4 p.m.
San Jose Earthquakes at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.
New England Revolution at New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
Kansas City Wizards at Colorado Rapids, 9:30 p.m.
REGULAR SEASON - WEEK 3

Thursday, April 2, 2009
Columbus Crew at Real Salt Lake, 9 p.m. (ESPN2/Deportes)
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Seattle Sounders FC at Toronto FC, 3 p.m.
FC Dallas at New England Revolution, TBD

Sunday, April 5, 2009
New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire, 3 p.m. (TeleFutura)

So what does this tell us ?
Starting the season with KC and Columbus away and then Seattle here at home is not a horrible schedule. I think that April 4th will be our earliest home game ever. The long johns will be called into service. Is lake affect snow to our advantage ??
Columbus wants our money - but can last year's trek be equalled in numbers ?? Probably not, but I'm thinking that fewer wobbly fans could be a good thing. I am willing to travel and hope that the product on the field makes the weekend worthwhile. Will probably book a hotel for Saturday night in the upper end of Ohio, so that the Sunday drive home is easier to take....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Seattle

According to SBI the Seattle choices for the expansion draft goes like this ...

Nate Jaqua (Houston) striker
Brad Evans (Columbus) midfield
Stephen King (Chicago) midfield
Jeff Parke (New York) defender
James Riley (San Jose) defender/midfielder
Khano Smith (New England) striker/winger
Jarrod Smith (Toronto FC) forward/midfielder
Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake) defender/midfielder
Peter Vagenas (Los Angeles) midfielder
Tyson Wahl (Kansas City) defender

Most TFC fans would rather say farewell to Jarrod Smith over Johann Smith (and here's hoping that this is not
a typo between the Smith's). Those who were gambling that Seattle was not going to be choosing keepers are looking
wise right now.
There seems to be an emphasis on youth and potential in the list (apart from Jaqua and Vagenas), but looking at the
list from a Saputo in Montreal point of view you might say "for this you're charging 40 million US ???)
No doubt there will be trades to come and the Superdraft in January and the shape of the team will change before training camp, but it seems underwhelming. Perhaps the money for Freddie and Keller meant that salary was the main concern.
Jarrod Smith showed less and less this past season, but I would still trade Carlos Ruiz in a second to get him back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On the list

Expansion Draft lists were released today. The draft is on Wednesday.
TFC protected the following .....
Chad Barrett
Jim Brennan
Danny Dichio
Todd Dunivant
Brian Edwards
Amado Guevara
Kevin Harmse
Julius James
Tyrone Marshall
Carl Robinson
Marvell Wynne

Which means the following are available (remember- Seattle are allowed only one player per team, they make 10 picks and there are 14 teams , so there is a chance Toronto will not be chosen from).
Attakora-Gyan, Nana
Elkinson, Kilian
Freeman, Hunter
Gala, Gabe
Gaudet, Derek
Melo, Joey
Ricketts, Rohan
Rosenlund, Tyler
Ruiz, Carlos
Smith, Jarrod
Smith, Johann
Sutton, Greg
Velez, Marco

Trying to find the logic in these choices. Rohan Ricketts and Johann Smith on the available list could indicate either midfield player signings or draft choices on the horizon. Sutton makes sense since Seattle has Keller as their #1 keeper and would not want an International #2. Protecting Brian Edwards makes sense because he would be very useful to Seattle.
Surprises ??
Attakora-Gyan not protected
Tyrone Marshall and Julius James both protected
Danny Dichio protected - Seattle would only take him to trade him back to Toronto

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Columbus Crew take the Cup

It was a funny season. I can remember like it was yesterday driving down to Columbus, Ohio for the season-opener in March and talking about the Crew as the measuring stick for TFC. The Crew had missed the 07 playoffs, so they were the logical team to match or exceed if Toronto was going to be a playoff team and a cup contender. Well, things have changed since then and the Crew did the double, winning both the Shield (best season record) and the MLS Cup.

I suppose our expectations are rising and Columbus are still the team to match or exceed. Why not ?

It was a deserving win and was welcomed .... I do not like Columbus, but I dislike New York far more....

Now tomorrow we find out who TFC are protecting in the expansion draft which is later this week.

Should be interesting.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Montreal drops out of MLS expansion consideration...

Reports are coming out that Montreal has bowed out of the MLS expansion process.





Speculation on the reasons behind this include the fall of the Canadian dollar and the ongoing story of George Gillett's financial entanglement with Liverpool FC.

I guess it makes some sense. Without paying $40 million to MLS, Montreal already has a home and home series with TFC due to the CONCACAF Champions set-up. The present financial environment makes agreeing to pay money now for a spot in a league three years from now a risky gamble.

Toronto fans wanted the rivalry with Montreal and it may still happen longer term. The economic downturn is the storm cloud over sports right now. I think that MLS will both survive and thrive in this climate as their economics (with the exception of LA) are based on selling affordable tickets and they have less luxury box traffic and TV advertising dollars to lose than the big boys (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL). Not that I would give them my $40 million right now .....

Friday, October 31, 2008

Tried the playoff game and was pulled away ....

by the arrival on my television of The Office and 30 Rock.
I was watching The Fire vs Revolution first leg of their playoff on streaming video last night. Yes, I have a beef with MLS, although I pay for their online video service, they do not deliver the games that are on ESPN2. Hey MLS, Canadians do not get to watch ESPN2.
This was not an attractive game. It seemed like a foul fest. Nothing quite red card worthy, but staying close to the line.
Scoreless in New England must give a huge advantage to Chicago in the second leg at home. A very ugly game from what I saw.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

San Jose 2 TFC 0 cloudy sunset on a season


So the season ended with a whimper and a sloppy effort in San Jose. It was as if the adrenaline that has been fueling TFC since the disaster in Kansas City expired at the same time for the entire team. I would pair the SJ and KC games as required viewing when making decisions about next year's team and beyond. The plucky efforts in New York, Dallas and at home against Chicago would not supply the correct perspective as to our strengths and weaknesses.
Let me outline the events of the final game briefly. The briefer the better.
Toronto was lucky to get to the half with a scoreless tie. San Jose had all of the early scoring chances. Sutton and some klutzy luck kept the Quakes from scoring. Any hope that Toronto could change the nature of the game expired early in the second half when Ryan Cochrane scored a header off of a corner kick from ol' Ronnie O'Brien. Sure Sutton misjudged the ball, but you knew it had only been a matter of time for the Quakes to connect. San Jose seemed to ease up with the lead and Toronto crept back into the game. There was never any sustained pressure, the rare attacks only inspired hopes for a lucky, undeserved goal. In the late going Kevin Harmse reminded us of his weakness for rash moves (a weakness that I thought he had been able to limit in his recent run as central defender). He lunged and clearly fouled Shea Salinas who then scored a screamer on the penalty. San Jose 2 and Toronto no show. The game and the season ended. It is hard to put a finger on my mood at that point. Empty would be too harsh, hopeful would be too optimistic.
Marvell Wynne did not play as he is recovering from concussion. He was missed. Danny Dichio was substituted early in the second half. Dichio's willingness to return as a role player coming off the bench should secure his TFC future. Re-read that last sentence a few times if you are out there Mo. Johann Smith and Jarrod Smith split the game out on the right wing and neither amounted to much. Jarrod Smith had a chance at a shot late in the half, but he tried to set up the player he expected to be heading for the far post. Silly Jarrod, that was Carlos Ruiz and he was not going to expend any effort. He had already squandered a scoring chance by looking more interested in buying popcorn from a vendor than making a play for the ball near the far post. The highlight of the game from a TFC fan perspective was watching Ruiz being substituted so that Ibby could have ten minutes of action. Ruiz was angry, very angry. He refused the towel and drink from the trainer and then shoved the gatorade container and stormed to the bench. I thought that he made better contact with the gatorade container than he did with a soccer ball in scoring range these last two months. It is fair to say that his anger in San Jose pales in comparison to the anger I felt when we picked the bum up in September. Get out of town fella, as a rent a striker you were not worth a Canadian dollar.
The speculation season now begins for TFC. Who returns and who is to be acquired? The need for improvement is clear. We could argue all night if Toronto the second year team is a better squad than San Jose the first year team. Either way there is not much between them and that reflects badly on TFC progress. Now Seattle arrives on the 2009 scene and their early signings indicate strength. They have a veteran keeper in Kasey Keller and the rumours are that they are about to announce the signing of Freddie Ljungberg. Wow, that is a player with potential. If Huckerby can have a positive impact on a MLS team, a healthy and active Ljungberg comes in with a potential that no player in TFC history can match. Seattle has also signed some young players, S├ębastien Le Toux and Sanna Nyassi who have been playing for the USL version of the team this year. So they begin with a solid base. It will be interesting to see if Seattle uses the expansion draft to seriously weaken Toronto. They also get the first pick from the NCAA crop in the Superdraft. So it is not a stretch to say that Toronto will have to make a number of player upgrades just to stay where they are in competitive terms. It is a tough spot as a TFC fan going into the offseason fending off such strong feelings of Seattle envy. I may need a Starbucks to calm me down.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

TFC 3 Chicago Fire 2 - going out with heads held high


Guess it was a roller coaster game to cap off a roller coaster year. I went down to BMO Field today determined not to feel that it was the end. As long as a playoff game was possible I was going to avoid contributing to a negative vibe. It was a beautiful October day, the sun was bright and the temperature was in the single Celsius digits. There was not much wind. A neighbour commented that there was a CFL feel to the air. Growing up watching the Argos play in this part of town (Exhibition Stadium-the old mistake by the lake), I had to agree. It was a good day to be in the lakeside air.
Many hours later I write this knowing that both Kansas City and New York won tonight which eliminates Toronto from the playoffs. As this proved to be the last home game of the 2008 season, well, it wasn’t a bad way to finish up. I had expected TFC to come out blazing as the up-tempo momentum of those recent road games could provide the fuel to ignite the home crowd. Toronto scored early on a well-crafted curler by Amado Guevara. Then TFC was awarded a penalty kick (and how rare was that this season?) Rohan Ricketts’ shot was stopped by Chicago keeper Jon Busch, but then the rebound race was won by Ricketts and he put it away.
Justin Mapp scored for Chicago to make it 2-1. Sloppy defending by TFC on that one, Mapp was so wide open that Sutton never had a chance.

Then TFC played alert football and caught Chicago in injury time with the winning goal. A throw-in from Wynne went to the middle of the pitch and a pass to the wing (from Robinson or Guevara ??) found Ricketts who made a little move and boom it was in. It was wonderful to see Ricketts have a great game. He is maturing as a player, pays enough attention to the defending side of life and seems more comfortable with his part of the attack.
Blanco scored a solid goal for the Fire in the second half, but TFC kept scoring chances for Chicago to a minimum beyond that. There was enough counter-attack and action at both ends that another Toronto goal was always a possibility.

If only, if only, if only…..
that game in Dallas where a win became a tie had gone Toronto’s way and at least one of the 7 ties at home had
been turned into a win – TFC would be a playoff team.


Questions
Was the fact that Dichio and Marshall said goodbye to the fans on the field runaround apart from the rest of the team and with their children just something that happened or is it an indication of retirement?? In the case of Marshall, a good pro who has made a contribution in these early years, I think his departure would reflect the inevitable upgrade in central defending.
Dichio ? Remember on the October road trip 3 of the four goals had Dichio play a part in the build-up. It is nice to have a legend grow around an infant club, but I say keep Dichio because he contributes. A player- coach role would be deserved.


Marvell Wynne subbed at half time, injury or tactics ?

Brian McBride is a skilled and solid player who may make the difference for Chicago this year, but I am happy to have Chad Barrett. It would have been fun for all had Barrett scored a goal against his former team……

Saturday, October 11, 2008

FC Dallas 2- Toronto FC 2 - reaching the heights and then stumbling on a rock






On the morning after the night before, perspective begins to seep in. The result of a tie in Dallas is honestly what I was hoping for after the joy of victory in New York a week ago. TFC in the playoffs has been a long shot for months now. We fans (and John Carver) knew all season long that all those home ties (7) were playoff points squandered. Last night's tie was TFC's first on the road all season. Still, it is encouraging to see the team, after all this grief, produce effort and counter attacks and goals. It is wonderful too to see Marvell Wynne go from potential status to a true creator and contributor. There is just no way that he can be sold off to Europe now. Just no way. He is the foundation of the team and therefore Designated Players and draft picks and trades are moves to build on the base. Without Wynne there is no base. Enough future, back to Saturday night in Dallas - Pizza Hut Park.

It was in their grasp. TFC was winning 2-1 in Dallas with only minutes left in the game. John Carver made a smart tactical substitution and put in an extra defender. Julius James. It was hard to be sure from the broadcast, but it looked like James' grip on Serioux's shirt is what prompted the penalty kick. Kenny Cooper's first shot was wiped out on an encroaching call. His second shot was in, although Sutton sure had a hand on it.

Is this as close as TFC is going to get to the MLS Cup in 2008? Will this moment haunt players and fans alike all winter long?? This result tonight did not eliminate TFC from the playoff. However, even if they win their last two games, they have a very slim shot at a playoff spot.

After falling behind to Kenny Cooper's goal in the first half, TFC climbed back into this match in the second half. Marco Velez scored the first one. A throw-in from Wynne and a flick on header from Dichio set him up.

It became more and more TFC's game (although Dallas did continue to take long shots at Sutton). Then Marvell Wynne scored. This was a wonderful moment. Honest to goodness comebacks have been rare in TFC history. Then the penalty call....

Remote though the chance may be, it is a comfort to the TFC fan that the final home game will have the Reds still in contention for a post-season spot. This is historical too. I look forward to this one. The recent road games have produced five goals. Please let the goals continue, it will be a treat to win one convincingly at BMO.

The Happy list.
Jell Cunningham did not score.
Nana Attakora-Gyan played well. He is more than a depth player and could allow TFC to make some off season moves with other defenders.

The Sad list.
Did I mention the penalty call?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

TFC stuns NYRB with an October surprise


TFC sparkled tonight and defeated New York RedBulls in New York by a resounding 3-1. This goal scoring frenzy was unexpected. Boy, was it unexpected. The blah bitterness of the last road game in Kansas City was still preying on the minds of the battered TFC fan. It was a sense of duty, the thought that soon enough the wind will blow and the snow will pile and we will yearn for a contest to cheer for, that convincd me to watch the game. So I invite a friend over and we tune in to witness what TFC had on offer. Who knew that it was going to be a night of jumping off the couch with fists pumping and cries of joy??
This was the team that we have been waiting for. Where has this team been ? Is it too little, too late- flash in the pan stuff for the faint playoff hopes?
The next game is in Dallas and based on tonight's performance- something positive is possible. A tie on the road in Texas now has some life to it and a road victory no longer qualifies as extreme crazy talk.
Tonight Chad Barrett scored the first goal through hustle and finish (and a foolish header back to the keeper from a New York player ten miles away that Barrett beat him to) and that was the half time score. (Barrett 27 minutes)
I thought that TFC needed another goal early in the second half, but New York got one instead. Dane Richards responded with his own hustle and finish goal early and that was the point when I wavered. Harmse and Marshall looked like butter on the play and Richards was the hot knife.
Oh oh, I thought. I could close my eyes and see the same old script, the same old heartbreak developing. A huge case of the same old same olds was in the air. Then someone ripped up the script and wrote a new one, an exciting one. The one we TFC fans have been dreaming of all summer long.
Carl Robinson, playing deep in his half, plays the ball forward to Dichio, who calmly lays it off to the left wing. The ball falls perfectly into the stride of Marvell Wynne. Marvell decides to move boldly into warp speed and tears away down the wing. Leaving defenders in the dust, Wynne senses the out-rushing Red Bull keeper (Conway) and sends the ball in a perfect pass across to Chad Barrett. The ball is in the net uncontested. Barrett celebrates, turning towards Hunter Freeman, but then it hits him. Wynne made that play sparkle with his speed and touch and ol' Chad turns back towards Marvell. Wynne is already there.
Wynne has shown so much in these recent games that you worry about his being taken to Europe sooner rather than later. Edu was sold for 5 million and he did not have these "Wynne quality" moments.
The substitutions were timely. Johann Smith for Rohan Ricketts and Ibby Ibrahim for Chad Barrett. Smith shows that he has speed on the wing too. Ibby is wide open on the far post and he signals for the ball. He may never be as open as he was at that moment, and when you consider his youth that is a lot of future I am taking into consideration. Ibby Ibrahim heads the ball pass Conway and the night is Toronto's.

There was a chippy air to the game and New York is a team that I dislike more with every exposure. Angel's cleat chop to the back of Guevara's thigh was ugly. It may be unusual for Angel and it may have been a mistake, but it was ugly. Guevara played on, but he was a step slower and quick to pass. New York could be letting their losing streak get to them, but they deserved every yellow and looked ready for the next colour once or twice. The yellow on Chad Barrett did not seem deserved on the television angle. Wonder what the ref saw on that one? Or was he just trying to balance out the cautions on a game that seemed on the boil.
I don't think that I will be approaching the next game with the same sense of high fan duty. Bring it on !

Saturday, September 27, 2008

TFC 1 Houston 1 -3 months and counting for a home victory

A game as dull as the sky today, Toronto struggled to squeek out another tie at home and those playoff chances continue to slide further beyond reach. Hands up everyone who still thinks that TFC deserves to be playing for the MLS Cup ? I thought so.

I had to go back to the records to double check this. Toronto fans have not been witness to a home victory since June 14th against the Colorado Rapids. Sure, ties are an improvement on losses, but all of TFC's ties have been at home this year. You can feel the fans slumping and the atmosphere at the stadium sliding as victory becomes more of a distant memory. Next year's slogan is a simple one.
Home wins and road ties
You read it here first.
Defending was a step up from the KC game, but they almost had nowhere to go but up in that regard. The own goal by Hunter Freeman was a careless play, but these things happen from time to time. If TFC had any ability to score, a slip-up such as a rare misplaced backheader would be less of a blow.
The huge break from the dullness was the flurry from Man of the Match Marvell Wynne. (Go ahead say that phrase five times quickly "Man of the Match Marvell Wynne" -fun wasn't it?) He contributed a wonderful five minutes in the second half when he scored the tying goal on a surprising dipper from outside the penalty area and then caught Dwayne DeRosario on a dangerous break and took the ball from him. Take away the Wynne contribution in those two plays and you may have had a 2-zip loss instead.

Three games on the road and one more at home are Toronto's remaining schedule. You have to go historical to develop a positive outlook. TFC 2007 ended with 6 wins, 17 losses and 7 ties for a points total of 25. TFC 2008 has 7 wins, 12 losses and 7 ties for 28 points. So TFC has an improved season even if they collapse from here on in. I won't remind you how much of an improvement Columbus has fashioned in 08.

At least we were spared Ruiz's sorry presence today. Guevara was a struggle to watch. His runs with the ball were ok, but he was starting from too deep as if he had decided to only link up with Carl Robinson no matter how defensive a position Robinson took. Guevara's passes were consistently awful, but obviously if he had scored on the set-up from Dichio all would have been forgiven.
Quick observations
No Marco Velez - the era has ended
No Julius James - remind me - is it an injury ??
Kevin Harmse was not a standout - but mopped up from time to time
Not sure that I was happy with subbing Johann Smith in for Rohan Ricketts..

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nothing New Here

Well, I almost wish still kicking had not invited me to write the blog while he is enjoying his weekend, because, at the end of it all there were very few positives to write about. Really, there was nothing in this game that hasn’t been in a number of other road games. Poor defending, rash challenges, ineffective passing, inadequate attacking were all features of this 2-0 loss to Kansas City.

What bothers me about this loss is not the performance itself, because I’m used to that by now, but the attitude of the players. Before the game John Carver expressed a sense of urgency about getting a win and scoring goals. I don’t know what happened between his talks with the press and his talks to the team, but one of the two groups didn’t get the message (and the press corps didn’t lose 2-0 to KC). If anything it seemed as though he said to the players “Take it easy boys, only a few games left now and you can take off for the rest of the winter”. A number of players mailed it in tonight, most recognisable for me were Carlos Ruiz and especially Amado Guevara. Guevara’s passing was poor and he really didn’t seem too interested in running after balls that he had a chance of winning. Sure, he had a good opportunity from a free kick towards the end of the game, but in the end it was a wasted ball in a wasted season. Certain individuals in the team apparently have been training for new careers, as members of the defence on occasion looked more like construction workers on the 401, you know, one working while four stand around watching him (yes, it’s an old joke). Carver might as well say, “You know, Tyrone, they’re building new highways in Jamaica, I found an application form for you. Please, use me as a reference on your resume”. Everyone seems frustrated, the team, the administration and the fans. The players who don’t seem frustrated don’t give a shit. We have a number of those.

For me the players who deserve kudos from this game are Barrett, Wynne, Robinson and Freeman, who will be playing this winter and therefore has something to prove. Barrett seems to care, and continually works hard, even though he might not be the most talented striker. Wynne (who might be playing this winter if the transfer rumours are true) gives the game his all, too. Robinson is so talented I can’t believe he isn’t making big bucks in Europe. He just absorbs pressure without really breaking a sweat, a real pro. I also don’t want to forget to mention Ricketts’ hard work.

If I had the chance to rebuild this team for next year I would keep very few of these guys around. My short list includes Barrett, Ricketts, Robinson and…well, that’s about it. It’s painfully obvious that the entire defence needs to be redone, and Tyrone and Marco should be plainly told to f*** off. Again, new careers are in the offing for these guys. For those of us who enjoy the personnel turn over of the off season, we have interesting times ahead.

I could go on now to talk about the size of the pitch in Kansas City, and the lovely pitcher’s mound just outside of the touch line, but when your team plays this consistently badly, complaints about the state of the MLS are irrelevant.

I defended this team to my friends for a long time, saying that all they needed was a striker, or opposing teams are packing the defensive zone to frustrate us. But no team with so much attacking ‘prowess’ (as it seemed earlier in the season) could go so long with out a positive result. One of the other lowly teams in the MLS was bound to cough up a laugher to a team that could kick it around the way we do. But this hasn’t happened. It tells me that there are two possibilities, either these terrible teams, who have many bad performances just play well against us, or, it’s all our fault. I’m starting to believe it’s the latter. If you see someone in 120 chanting “It’s all your fault” at Tyrone Marshall (or any other TFC players), just come up and say “Sit down Trout”.

Oh, I almost forgot about TFC's playoff hopes, well...you can.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

TFC 1 Columbus Crew 1 - Just beyond our grasp .....

Those slim TFC playoff hopes still mathematically exist, but emotionally I watched them start drifting off into the fog today. Calling this the blog of hope and fog is meant to describe my own mental state (most of the time), but the team is playing in my style of thinking. This is not a good thing.
TFC now have 6 remaining games, two at home (Houston and Chicago) and four on the road (KC, NY, Dallas and San Jose). Depending on how the Red Bulls and DC United fare today, the best deficit for Toronto will be 5 points. Making up that many points will require a winning streak and some help. KC did not help by beating LA and moving ahead of Toronto in points. It would be wonderful if Toronto grabbed all of those 18 remaining points, but I do not see anyone expecting that level of fortune to grow out of today's performance. Winning the home games and beating NY on the road would make things interesting. That maybe too wild a hope.

TFC has some suitable individual parts, some building blocks for the future even, but they have not meshed into a true team. They play often like the strangers that they are. Ruiz and Barrett were unaware of each other most of the time. Ruiz showed talent today but not much in the drive and desire department. I admit I have low expectations for Ruiz, he is a rent a striker. I can't remember Chad B getting a shot on net today. Freeman and Ricketts were both capable enough wingers and Guevara and Robinson were pushing up through the middle of the field, but overall the passing touch is what's missing.

Today was sour enough that it sparked thoughts of such roster implications. If the 08 playoff run is not to be, you might as well start trying to figure out who is on your 09 roster. That must be what Mo is doing in Brazil right now. Remember there is another expansion draft in the off-season, so someone may go through that process.


Let me moan about the Columbus goal (Pat Noonan - 40). What exactly was Tyrone Marshall trying to accomplish on that play ? It did not even look like a rash attempt at a sliding tackle. It looked more like he was trying to get out of the way so that the attacker had a clear shot on goal.
I can remember on the March drive to Columbus talking about how Toronto was going to improve in 2008. Their target should be to pass the Crew. Well the Crew have turned everything around and are beyond all expectations. Now having watched them play 3 times this year, I cannot figure out exactly why this is.



Positives
Greg Sutton saving a penalty shot
Rohan Ricketts always active, controlling passes and trying to attack down the wing even as conditions fell apart. Progress was being made with having Ricketts and Wynne on the same side of field, that level of understanding was missing today.
Amado Guevara and Carl Robinson combined for a great early goal. I think subbing both of them was in honour of their
recent heavy World Cup workload.
Hunter Freeman his cross from the right wing in the final minutes of the first half that was begging for a finisher, must have surprised his team - he is another rent-a-player who is Europe bound


Negatives
The turf.

More thoughts - will share later

Saturday, September 6, 2008

TFC 1 Chivas USA 3


Why did I think that Toronto had a chance to win today ? Why did I choose to attend this match knowing that the cupboard was bare ? Why was Holger Osciek, former coach of Canada and now out of a job, at the game in the MLSE box ?

Toronto came into this game with 9 players missing on international duty (Brennan, Sutton, Wynne, Guevara, Ruiz, Marshall, James, Robinson and Jarrod Smith). So it was destined to be a test of the depth of the squad. Not a test that TFC has studied for much of this season.
Three defenders that started were loans or emergency signings ( Titus, Regan and number 35) and Marco Velez was the steady hand that we were expecting to hold the fort at the back. The plan worked, for a while.
In those fleeting glory minutes of the first half, when Ricketts crossed the ball across the goal mouth and Tyler Rosenlund buried his chance, it was possible to think that long-awaited the goal scoring breakthrough would occur. That thought lingered for a while, although it did not survive to the end of the half. Chivas equalized on a goal by
Then a cheap sho from Eskendarian and a foolish retalitation from Velez were both recognized with red cards. O my kingdom for a player who keeps TFC and himself in the game by not lashing back.

Once Chivas went ahead the TFC effort was relentless, but the finish was not to be. A lot of long balls hoping to hit the target. Some forays down the wing with Ricketts or Smith trying to get a cross into to someone.
Rosenlund had a break that ended with a rushed, weak shot easily stopped. Harmse had the ball in a dangerous spot and just seemed to freeze and nothing came of it. Harmse was shifted back to right back, Gaudet came in and number 35 came out. Harmse kept the supply of long balls and lost causes coming, Gaudet barely contributed.
Nothing creative was coming from the middle of the attack. Later Saturday night, it was painful to watch Guevara get Bernier sent off for Canada, so I am not able to put forward the arguement that Amado is needed to provide drive for TFC. Carl Robinson was missed. His stops and his passing might

Keep Regan and Titus. They contributed and lord knows we need some depth.

I think that the Barrett and Dichio partnership as strikers is just not going to work. It is not that they are two peas in a pod, just that they do not mesh somehow.

Next game will be home against Columbus. It will be a reunion for TFC. The faces will change back to the well known ones. Here is hoping that the goal break through comes before the snow does.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Small squad all year long

Even before TFC sold Edu to Rangers, the size of their squad has been of concern all season long. The salary cap is the final factor, but the Senior roster numbers eighteen and the reserve squad has room for 10. So the international call-ups that will take 9 away from Toronto's roster may be a concern, but it should have been anticipated long ago. The roster appears to be at 25 and that includes Attakora-Gyan and Dunivant who are still injured.
The need for young Canadian talent has been clear for a long time. The Academy will pay off in time, but their could have been a few stop gap measures this year.
The Tyler Hemming saga has to be considered a soap opera detached from the need for a strong squad. Time to let him go to wherever he wants to go. Just be sure to replace him on the roster...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chivas USA 2 TFC 1


Labour Day weekend took me away. Off to a wonderful cottage in the Kawarthas, where radio silence was the watchword. No net, no television. Mrs Still Kicking was able to stand on a dock and catch weak waves on her berry. That was the method we used to obtain the final score on Sunday morning. During the game we were too busy singing around the campfire to care about porous defence. The last minute loss, same old same old.
I will pick Trout's brain to get more details.
The illustration is from Mr. Trout. He is my hero and my guru......

Saturday, August 23, 2008

TFC 1 NE Rev 1 - playoff hopes hanging on a Chad



Chad Barrett continues to be the bonus of the summer. His two timely goals scored in a TFC uniform in August have resulted in a win and a tie. Where would the playoff hopes be right now without him ?? Not that they are soaring, but in a Chad-less universe they would be sinking like a rock.
In a nutshell last night's game boiled down to a moment of TFC leaving Twellman unguarded and paying for it, Barrett's rocket volley off of a cross from Jim Brennan and wondering if TFC will ever have a cohesive attack.
It certainly does not help when so many are playing out of position. The starting 11 is not quite random, but we are seeing a steady invasion of defenders. A shift from the back with Brennan and Wynne becoming midfielders or true wing players. I know that Brennan has played midfield for years and Wynne saw some time there during the injury woes of 07, but this is going wrong. It is as if since the team only has depth in the defender position, so they are going to play defenders everywhere.

Rohan Ricketts was moved up into the striker spot, but that was frustrating. I am a fan of Ricketts and hope he wears the red for years to come. Yet the striker position does not suit him at this stage, he was not able to make himself much of a target for his midfield passers. When he had the ball he was not driving to the net, he was acting like a winger looking to cross it in to a striker. That's you Rohan, at least last night it was.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ruiz trade - a mistake

This is not rational evaluation, but in my bones I feel that TFC has made a mistake in obtaining Carlos Ruiz from LA. There is still a sour image in my mind from his antics in last year's Gold Cup and while playing with FC Dallas. Even if he is a TFC goal a game marvel, I will be waiting for the inevitable crap behaviour to surface.
Yes, TFC needs offensive production, but at any price ? Here's hoping that this is a stop-gap measure for a playoff push and that it is not a haunting waiting to happen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Departures

Mo Edu has been sold to Glasgow Rangers for 5 million. A talented young player with potential, his departure had been long rumoured. His play for Toronto in 2008 had been below expectations, yet his Olympic play sealed the deal. He will be missed , he has been a part of the TFC story since game one. The Globe is speculating that TFC may use the money from the Edu sale for a real grass field. Now that will a huge legacy. It is wise to remember that he is young and the team, in not blocking the move to a big Scottish club and a big pay increase, may one day be able to bring him back.
Midfielder Lauren Robert has been released today. Again, no surprise as his playing time had been shrinking and his goal production was a concern.
The TFC roster has had holes all season and the departures continue to outnumber the arrivals. Will players arrive in time for Saturday ?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

TFC at New York - Cruel, but not unusual

NYRB 2 TFC 0
You could ponder tactics and strategies when you try to think about TFC's loss today, but it would lead you nowhere. It was not a game of match-ups and styles. It was more of a simple tale of talent and luck. New York had both. Talent does not have to show up for long. New York proved that today. Two flashes and two goals. The first goal was a surprise break from a clearance in the first half that was evenly played up to that point. The second was the last in a series of long balls to Dane Richards that finally paid off in injury time (although actually Angel scored)
It was a physical game. Toronto's only glimmer of hope came when Gabriel Chichero was ejected for striking Danny Dichio in the head in the first minutes of the second half. There was a flurry of passes and infrequent chances at net for TFC following that, but overall New York was slowly strangling the disconnected TFC attack.
I will avoid the debate of New York luck versus lack of Toronto talent because that will have me snarling.


Questions to ponder......
Is watching soccer being played on a fully lined and marked NFL field the largest crime in televised sports ?
Was the substitution of Danny Dichio after the collision a precaution or a sign of serious injury ?
Did Andy Boyens get away with a series of fouls ?
Why play Jarrod Smith as a sub ahead of Gabe Gala ?
Why does TFC runs out of attacking ideas the moment NYRB packs the middle of the field ?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Makeshift TFC gut out a victory in Colorado


Wow, a road victory, an honest to goodness road victory. Toronto defeated Colorado 1-0 today. A great goal from Chad Barrett very close to the end of the first half and then a rollicking, nail biter defense in the eventful second half were the key ingredients.
Watching TFC as visitors on television has become a battle between hope and history. It was tough to muster up much on the hope side going into this one. Guevara and Velez out on suspensions, Wynne and Edu at the Olympics, Dichio still doubtful. It was not looking good. The continued lack of significant signings to strengthen the team is a nagging concern (Dunivant, Cunningham and Tebily have left holes still to be filled).

At least Toronto has not been clobbered away from BMO of late. Yet the recent away games in both Salt Lake City and in Chicago had added blown opportunities to hold onto ties on the road as a new wrinkle to a sad story.
So the day started with a very unique line-up, a 4-3-3. It was hard to decide if this was brilliance or desperation.

Sutton
Attakora James Marshall Brennan

Harmse Robinson Ricketts

Smith Barrett Ibrahim

The formation worked though. TFC started with energy, Jarrod Smith had some early chances on balls down the wing. He seemed to be fighting the altitude and was not reaching long balls. It looked like he was brought down in the box in the early going, but no call given. The day put to rest the early fear that it was going to be another tough day from the officials. Omar Cummings in particular was always a threat for the Rapids. When chasing back on a Colorado break, Tyrone Marshall went down with what looked like a leg injury (later described as a popping of his quad) So Marshall came out of the game, Tyler Rosenlund came into the midfield and Carl Robinson dropped back as central defender.
Both teams had opportunities but Sutton was playing well. One memorable move for him was coming out on Conor Casey and kicking away the ball.

The TFC goal was a highlight gem. Chad Barrett hit a perfect high screamer into the upper left corner from just outside the box and scored his first TFC goal. Colorado’s keeper Bouna Coundoul made a brave effort, but it was undeniable. The free kick had been won through Rohan Ricketts’ determination with the ball as he pressured the Rapid defenders (although he did seem to miss a give and go opportunity with Attakora).

Colin Clark picked up a yellow card at the end of the first half and that proved critical.
Now the second half was a roller coaster ride.
The indirect free kick awarded TFC when Coundoul handled a back pass was squandered. I admit that this would not be the scenario that many teams would plan for. Yet it seemed that either playing the ball back to a shooter who would still be in great range or changing the point of attack would at least looked like a strategy. Instead the ball was too easily cleared by the charging keeper.

The game turned when the Rapids’ Colin Clark thumped Attakora on the line from behind and picked up his 2nd yellow and was ejected. Did he carry a grudge into this game against TFC based on his being challenged into the boards in the June Toronto game ?? Although Colorado put on the pressure and had some scoring opportunities still to come, you felt it was more TFC having scrambling moments rather than a master plan from the home side.

Rohan Ricketts picked up what looked like a cramp in his leg and Gabe Gala took his place on the left wing.
Greg Sutton kicked the ball into the stands in the late minutes over a corner call went against him. It earned him a yellow card. Danny Dichio came on for Chad Barrett and contributed to the play at both ends.
Nana Attakora-Gyan looked strong on the ball and in the tackle and is making the most of his opportunity (his shirt only had Attakora as the name= so I am doing the same). Rosenlund, Gala made solid contributions, maybe not a starter spot grab, but solid.
So TFC remain afloat, playoff talk is not insane today.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Cunningham traded to Dallas, a day long awaited...

There will be a toast tonight in Mistake Land. Jeff Cunningham has been traded from Toronto to FC Dallas. TFC gets a third round pick in the draft in return. It is not the return that makes this trade. JC is no longer on the field, no longer on the payroll and no longer in my nightmares.
Cheers.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Small atomic device goes off at BMO field, referee shields self with red cards



FC Dallas 2 - TFC 0



This game could be the turning point in the season. Many of the bad things about TFC were on display today, including frustration and violent temper (which in this case go hand in hand). Don't get me wrong, there was lots of good on display, just that it was overshadowed by what happened in the second half.

TFC demonstrated almost exactly what they have been showing the last several games, many chances (or, if you prefer, half chances) created, but little or nothing to show for it. Also, the general strategy for opposing teams has been to pack the penalty area and/or centre of the field with defenders to try to frustrate the creative midfield of Toronto. This is what we saw from Dallas today. The aim was to frustrate and overwhelm any attacks in front of the net and, like KC, San Jose and a host of other teams, they succeeded.

As early as the sixth minute Carl Robinson was yelling at Jeff Cunningham about his positioning. For the most part the first half was dominated by the reds, and there were vigorous performances by a number of players including Rohan Ricketts, Guevara, Barrett (more on him later) and, surprise, surprise, Jeff Cunningham.

Cunningham looked as though his new prescription glasses had come in and he finally saw the writing on the wall. He had a number of useful attacks, several chances to score, ran hard, got stuck in on tackles and even made a couple of defensive plays just outside the 18 yard box. Also, as a first impression, it seems that he might be a good strike partner with Barett, time will tell. He still has problems with his finishing but maybe, just maybe, he's working has way out of it.

Most of Dallas’ chances in the first half came from outside the 18 yard box. Nothing too dangerous, in fact, their best chance came from a ball headed over the net by Jim Brennan. More potent attacks came from the hoops in the last five minutes of the first half, and continued into the second half of play.

I wasn’t too impressed with Kenny Cooper, he's a big guy, gets into some scoring positions, but he’s not a world beater (although he would look good in a TFC uni). I know he scored both goals, and I give him credit for being cool and clinical while BMO was imploding during the penalty take, but colour me unimpressed. Adrian Serioux was the best Dallas player on the pitch. He was defensive and willing to join the attack. Why isn’t he in a TFC uniform? Oh yeah, he was traded for Ronnie O’brien, and what did we get for O’brien? San Jose’s first pick. Hope that turns out for us next year!

At the end of the half I had that feeling that said this could be one of those cruel games, unique to soccer, where one team works really hard and deserves to win, but the other team gets lucky and manages to steal 3 points. Unfortunately, Dallas' three points was earned less from their own efforts and more from a complete meltdown from frustration on TFC's part. The key moment in the second half took place when Amado Guevara took a swipe at one of the Dallas players in the Toronto penalty area. I believe that be was expressing the frustration that we've all been feeling over the last two months. Unfortunately he was in view of the referee, who deemed his action to be violent conduct. Guevara was red carded, a penalty was awarded, a goal was scored, and a firestorm erupted in fortress BMO. Not too long after this Marco Velez was shown a second yellow, for dissent, and TFC were down to 9 players. A number of Toronto players had been griping at the ref for some time, but Velez was nicely placed for the Referee to put another nail in the TFC coffin. Kenny Cooper’s long range worm burner (if the field turf had worms, that is) that eluded Greg Sutton just confirmed what everyone was hoping against.

In the end, the frustration was palpable. The players, the coaches (those who had not been ordered off the field by the ref), and the fans showed outward signs of anger towards the officiating. Really, the men in yellow were nothing more than scapegoats for the disappointment we are all feeling. The crew did get an earful from John Carver as they lined up to leave the field. Not a single TFC player, save for one, approached the officials. The one who did was turned away by Carver, and then, to show his further frustration, the coach shoved the player in the direction of the dressing room. It will be astonishing if there are not repercussions from the league for the incidents today, if not for the coach then for the projectiles thrown by far too many fans.

What lies ahead for TFC? Before today I may have been optimistic, discussing playoffs and a possible MLS cup. Now, your guess is as good as mine. But, I’m starting to think that a DP will not cure what ails our team. A therapist on the other hand…

A note on Chad Barrett

I expected to come into this blog post discussing a great deal of things about Chad Barrett, how wrong I was. My research indicated to me that he could be one of two things, either a young man with lots of potential who will be moulded by Mo Johnston in his striking image. Or an immature striker, using the mould of Jeff Cunningham’s cement shoes. Sure, He’s a hard worker, he tackles physically and seems to be able to get behind the defence on numerous occasions, but today his touch eluded him on the chances he took. Of course, the jury is still out, and when two strike partners are blanketed by five defenders, not too many good things happen. Let’s just hope that the hamstring problem that took him out of the game is not serious, or we’re back to square one.

On the horizon are two away games, Colorado and New York. What we need are two resounding victories to get us out of this funk and rebuild our shattered confidence. If we see two (likely) losses, it may be the beginning of the end.

Thanks to Still Kicking, who has moved me to the substitutes bench. This game was certainly not a friendly.

Trout

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tebily gone

It is difficult to be emotional about a player who only made a handful of appearances for TFC, yet it is still unfortunate that Olivier Tebily has left the team. Homesick ? Personal reasons ?
No denying he was part of the defensive success of the homestand and the depth and experience he offered lead to the trading of Pat Phelan.
What roster shuffles are ahead ???

Monday, July 28, 2008

Real Salt Lake 2 Toronto FC 1



“It is easy -- terribly easy -- to shake a man's faith in himself. To take advantage of that to break a man's spirit is devil's work.”

"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience."
George Bernard Shaw

Sorry to start with deep thoughts tonight, but I think my faith in TFC 2008 took an earthquake shake as TFC went down to RSL and I went off the Google deep end looking for quotes to reflect my state of mind. I don't think Shaw was writing about football teams, but I need profound thinkers to help me understand why I continue to be a witness to this same mess. Twice now this month TFC has had a tie on the road with less than ten minutes to play and they were unable to defend it. The numbers in Salt Lake City, and this pains me to write, were Guevara ties the game at the 83rd minute and then Findley puts RSL ahead in the 87th.
Isn't this soccer 101 ?? You have a point in your grasp (when points have been scarce everywhere of late) and the TFC pattern of struggles on the road have been cruel and persistent. Yet, instead of marking your man and defending beyond the call of duty, Toronto then allows one of those scrambles in the box with waves of RSL midfielders coming along uncovered and the ball ends up in the net. As Brennan and Marshall lay sprawled on the ugly Utah turf on my tv screen, I'm thinking that this TFC version of Groundhog Day must be brought to an end. (That this train of thought began with George Bernard Shaw and ended with memorable Bill Murray films must be a reflection of that mental earthquake shake I suffered)
Hindsight is cheap, but Carver needs to make more changes, notably when these road results beckon. Although the bench is short, fresh legs and some tactical shifts have to be tried. Perhaps making a substitution to replace a striker with a defender or replace Robert with a defensive midfielder or something. Are the rumours that Tebily has left the team true ??
Guevara's goal from a direct kick was a thing of beauty. It has to be frustrating for that effort to go for nothing. Sure it was against the run of play, but that enhances the beauty in my books.
The arrival of a flock of strikers seems to be on the horizon, Barrett from Chicago, Dickov from his period of indecision and then a Designated Player ?? Jeff Cunningham as the second half substitute was the same old story. Is he coming on for his offensive potential ?? Well, mission accomplished, I was offended.
I must curtail my bitterness. I could make snarky observations about how television enhances the bizarre field markings of Rice-Eccles stadium. The new stadium for Real Salt Lake awaits in October and not a moment too soon.
All is not lost in TFCland. The standings have a logjam in the East with three teams joining Toronto with 22 points. The points lost to home ties and road losses may haunt the team still, but Bill Murray did learn to put the repeat cycle to his advantage eventually. Could he prove to be our designated player ?

Friday, July 25, 2008

McBride to Chicago, Barrett to TFC


Millson of the Globe and Mail is reporting that Toronto is about to get Chad Barrett from Chicago Fire in return for Brian McBride. He also suggests that a trade for Cunningham is in discussion.
The word on Barrett is not very positive, but can he miss more chances than Jeff Cunningham has ?? A gamble that most fans are willing to make. Remember too, that Edson Buddle in LA is proof that an underwhelming striker can find his touch with a change of atmosphere. It is a funny, fickle game.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Montreal Impact goes to CONCACAF - was this the jolt that Toronto needed ??


One corner kick, one second of offensive execution, was all that Montreal required to tie Toronto and go through to the next stage of CONCACAF Champions League. This mission was accomplished. TFC's continued offensive weaknesses were on display at BMO Field Tuesday night. Danny Dichio continues to be injured (concussion) and the striker spots were filled by Ibby Ibrahim (turning 17 soon), Amado Guevara, Maurice Edu (two midfielders) and Jeff Cunningham (who should simply leave town now).

Wake-up TFC, you do not have the scoring talent that would be needed to succeed in the USL. Did I boo on Saturday when Jeff Cunningham was put into the game against San Jose on Saturday ? Yes, I did. Did I yell at the tv screen when the ball actually hit Cunningham's right foot when he was inches away from the Montreal goal and he was unable to move the ball forward Tuesday night ? Yes, I did. Sure, there is an element of creating a scapegoat, making Cunningham the focus of varied offensive problems. But face it, after last night if you offered Jeff Cunningham to Montreal in a trade for a deli sandwich, you would go hungry.

Reading the papers and through the forums, it seems that my anti-Cunningham rant is restrained compared to Coach Carver's willingness to slam more than half of the team. Maybe this is a good time to let things simmer....that is the fans should vent and then shut-up and the team should zip it and take action. It is a time to jettison dead wood and bring on new growth.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

TFC ties San Jose, lost momentum and direction


Toronto FC 0 San Jose Quakes 0


Well it was tough to walk away from the stadium with a scoreless tie, but it could have been worse. It is a sad indication of this floundering season that the levels of disaster had been created and ordered before the game against San Jose had even begun.
I do not claim to be fully trained in risk assessment (although being a TFC fan may one day gain you a credit in this area) but here goes....


Deepest disaster
This would have been “San Jose clobbers Toronto with Darren Huckerby and Ronnie O’ Brien scoring multiple goals.”

Deep disaster
San Jose somehow wins

A Disaster
Either Huckerby or O’Brien score no matter what the result

A Slight disaster
Toronto with a scoreless tie
Toronto with a come from behind tie

So Toronto, by this deeply scientific measurement, comes away with a slight disaster today. TFC continues to boast an undefeated home record in MLS play this season, but boast is not the operative word here. San Jose is the expansion team of 2008 and Toronto needs to establish themselves with a team such as this and grab some points. The expansion aspect is one reason. The other reason is that Toronto will play the final league game on the road in San Jose. I guess it is a sign that I still have hope for the season that I am calculating the impact of the rematch way off in October.

But back to the present. The first half began with energy, Toronto had more shots in the first fifteen minutes than in any other game that I can recall. Ibby Ibrahim even had a goal that was called offside (my sources say that the television replay indicated the call was wrong). The turning point came when Amado Guevara had the ball off of a bouncing corner kick and seemed to have the net wide open. He managed to miss.

TFC always had the upper hand in today’s contest. Excellent ball movement and growing control in the midfield. Tyler Rosenlund was a starter and I think it was mistake to substitute him in the second half. It seemed that there was less driving forward from the centre of the field once he was gone. Of course it does not help that his replacement was Jeff Cunningham (Cunningham to striker, Guevara back into the midfield and Rosenlund off). I was not happy to see JC 96 take the field. Not happy is putting it far too mildly. I was mad, I see his arrival as a gesture of throwing in the towel. He is not going to be late game hero. Jeff Cunningham has been given more opportunities to be an anytime hero and has botched them all. He qualifies for villain status. This is not a positive, not a “Heath Ledger explores the human condition through evil “ kind of villain. This is get out of that uniform, get out of town and get out of my life kind of villainy.
I am getting distracted by my anti JC 96 rant and I do not want to place the lack of scoring punch problem at the feet of only one player.
Guevara had a matching miss in the second half as he had a penalty kick saved by Joe Cannon of San Jose. Missed the rebound too...
When the pk was awarded I started to scan my memory for the last time TFC had a penalty awarded to them and I ended up back with Collin Samuels in Columbus. . So it was not a total surprise that these chances are squandered in the TFC universe. The miss in Columbus ended Samuels time in Toronto. It is unfortunate that Jeff Cunningham was not on the field at the time of today’s pk miss.
What lies ahead ? Edu did not play today because of his yellow card accumulation, but he and Marvell Wynne are gone for a month on their Olympic journey. Mistake by the Lake land wishes them well. TFC will struggle to replace Wynne (although it will be an opportunity for Julius James and Olivier Tebilly). Edu has had a woeful season, always seeming to be playing against the memory of his rookie success
and has been developing a concrete touch.
It appears that he is playing as a defender not a midfielder for the American Olympic team. I am not sure that this is a positive development. I am even hopeful that TFC acquires enough offensive talent that Edu could become a depth player rather than a starter. I am not holding my breath on that front.
Random thoughts
- happy that Darren Huckerby looked ok at best and will take time to adjust to MLS play
- thought that Ronnie O’Brien and Laurent Robert were both going to boil over in the first half. I did not see what sparked their displeasure, but think that Robert was lucky to avoid a yellow

-Trout FC observes that Rohan Ricketts may miss Marvell Wynne more than most as their play making progress has been encouraging.
-No mistakes in the back four and Greg Sutton has another shutout to his credit. It is funny that defensive success depends so much on offensive output. Only one goal for Toronto and we would be a thousand times happier with keeping San Jose off the score sheet.

- Montreal on Tuesday for CONCACAF title, All Stars vs West Ham,Real Salt Lake on the road, home to Dallas, away to Colorado and that has us well into August.
- I did get a box of the free sample whole wheat pasta but missed out on the razor offer. I guess that is symbolic of the whole day now isn't it ???

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Toronto FC vs. Independiente Bring out the young talent?!




This was an important match for me. You might question this, “A friendly? A big game?” John Carver wants to display his ‘second string’ talent, so, it seems, does Still Kicking. Therefore, at long last I have cracked the starting line-up of the Mistake by the Lake TFC blog! What an honour to be asked to do some first hand reporting in lieu of the big man himself! I see a big parallel between the players in this game and myself, if I work hard, report and opine with skill and confidence, I may be rewarded with another appearance in a more important game, not unlike Abbe Ibrahim. If I perform poorly, the comparisons will be to Andrea Lombardo instead.
After four of these friendlies I am really beginning to question the whole concept. Yes, it’s a really nice idea to have a “big name” club come to town (although mid table Argentinean teams arguably don’t fit that bill). Yes, it’s helpful to the opposing club in starting its pre season warm ups. And, yes it’s nice to get your younger, untested players field time against higher level opponents. But, really, does anyone care? I don’t think the Independiente players did. My pregame research indicated that I should be watching Ismael Sosa and Pablo Vitti but all they really looked up to was showing Maurice Edu how to simulate a foul in the penalty area. Now, they did put together the game’s only goal, and a nice bit of work it was, crossed in from a free kick by Sosa and put away nicely by Vitti, but that only took about five seconds of a ninety minute game. The only other Independiente player to catch my eye was Fabian Assmann. He had a few nice saves, but wow! That name! Congratulations to him, he replaces the Rapids’ Christian Burpo as starting goal keeper on my team of players who would get you a red card if you said their name with the wrong tone on the playing field. Yes, I will be happy if TFC signs Paul Dickov and ecstatic if we sign Kaka (I’m buying beer if you can convince him to wear number 2). The Argentinean’s performance really reminds me of Benfica last year, you knew they had talent and you knew they just weren’t showing it to you. When you go to see an Argentinean team you expect some trickery and some lovely ball control skills to be on display, for my mind the best player in that department was…Jerrod Smith, take that, Los Diablos Rojos. For all my complaining, I must note that it all looks very easy for the Argentine players, the passing was sharp and mostly perfect, they just looked like they didn’t fancy too much hard work.
For the flip side, see TFC. Here’s the starting line-up: Edwards, James, Gala, Attakora-Gyan, Hemming, Edu, Melo, Rosenlund, Ibrahim, Cunningham, Smith. Lots of hard workers out there but not nearly as talented as Independiente or our first team. The first team players in the squad generally looked very skilled and confident; the exception was Cunningham, who seems to be able to miss chances against any level of opponent. You know, if Mo trades him to the Galaxy, next year he might be in the running for the golden boot too! This was the first time I had seen Ibrahim play, having missed the Pachuca and Chicago matches, boy, did I miss something. He seems bigger, stronger and more confident than his sixteen years; I think this game might have secured him another chance at a real game in the near future. Other surprises for me were the “unnamed” substitutes in the second half (apparently Mo didn’t want to pay the $20 to have their jerseys personalized prior to the game). Number 19, Frank Jonke and Number 8, Murphy Wiredu both seemed to work very hard to get into positive attacking positions, especially Wiredu. We may have never heard of these guys before, and we never may hear of them again (and who knows where they came from), but it’s nice to know that the team’s depth is a little greater than it was last year. I’m sure Still Kicking would have been pleased to see Brian Edwards come tearing out of the penalty area to clear a ball that would have been very dangerous otherwise. I think I agree with John Carver, one day he is going to be a great keeper, unfortunately it probably won’t be with us.

There is one thing left to ponder, and your guess is as good as mine, how does another loss (at Fortress BMO too) effect the mood of the players? By my count this is three in a row at home, with several on the road as well. What will it take to get the team out of this skid? New players from abroad? A weak team to visit BMO? I’ve got good news, San Jose is up on Saturday, and they’re a weak team, aren’t they? Question, will Mo and John be on their way out the door if Huckerby scores 4?

Trout

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fire 2 TFC 1 - road results remain elusive


What is this call to glory ? goes that commercial over and over. Too bad that glory is on hold until TFC learns how to handle these road games. What new way to raise and then dash hopes will the team create tonight ? -could be the opener for the next commercial . I guess the call to glory involves patience and wisdom...
You must salute the road trip warriors, those fans who travelled to Chicago to support the team by the hundreds. If I turn on the television with a little bit of dread because of the road record, how many levels above that are these faithful travellers on this TFC road to glory ?

The short story is that TFC lost to the Fire in Chicago Saturday night. It looked good for a while in the second half. Coach Carver is clearly in search of solutions for the scoring problems. Jarrod Smith had the start, but he was replaced as striker by the rookie Abdus Ibrahim for the second half. What a debut, Ibrahim scored Toronto's goal to pull level. He also had a great shot that was just parried by Jon Busch. He deserves to start.

Chicago struck early. Rolfe scored in the sixth minute (I guess that means TFC will get Barrett in the McBride deal).
Toronto struggled and clawed their way back into the game. A series of unfortunate events followed. Edu gets a yellow for diving. I have had complaints about Edu's lack of offense, but diving ?? This has not been a part of his game. The ref was out to lunch. Edu also hit the woodwork on another chance. Edu played his best half of the season.

Carver shifted the team around for the second. Julius James came out, Jim Brennan shifted back to the back four and Rohan Ricketts was added to the midfield in addition to the Ibrahim for Smith swap.

Hindsight department - Guevara took a knock and Robert is not the strongest defender, perhaps TFC needed one more substitution to shore up the defense in the late going ??
Signing rejection department - Globe and Mail ace Larry Millson reported today that TFC has had their bid for Portugese international Nuno Gomes turned down. Just wonder if this is the end of the story ??

Thursday, July 10, 2008

TFC stumbles to a messy tie in Vancouver, 2-2


Trying to keep my positive side up - at least TFC have a chance to finish strong against Montreal later this month. It is simple, win and they're in. In, of course, is to be the Canadian club champs and play in the Concacaf Champions League. Yet judging by the performance in Vancouver, the negatives could easily get to you... They broke through with two goals, Edu and Ricketts scored in the second half from positive passing attacks.
Those two goals had TFC in position to finish off the Whitecaps. Then the plot fell apart. Marco Velez was injured late in the game. Kevin Harmse was brought in and played his usual midfield spot and Maurice Edu dropped back into the defending role. I have never seen Edu play as a defender and the Vancouver second goal was the result of Edu misplaying the ball back to Sutton in net. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Julius James had played a superb game, as had Tyrone Marshall. TV does limit your view of the play, so it is hard to find fault with the formation. Why not pack the back and preserve the win ??
We Toronto FC fans were still smarting from the loss to Vancouver on Canada Day at BMO. Judging from the comments of Coach Carver, the team was not happy either. So the pressure was on Toronto to roar back and play their way back into contention in the return game in British Columbia. This time Toronto showed up for the first half. It was a pleasant surprise to see a flow to the TFC attack, all players moving with determination and showing crisp passing. Vancouver was always able to counter, but TFC was on their game.
Yet, Toronto continued their frustrating ways around the net. The chances were created, but near misses was the best they could muster in the first half. Vancouver scored a goal late in the half (Eddie Sebrango 42) and one thought it was going to be another night of watching TFC bang their heads against a wall.
The joy of the two goal second half performance was smashed by the crummy ending. If Coach Carver needs guidance on how to do well against Montreal (or any team for that matter) I share it gladly, DON"T PLAY JEFF CUNNINGHAM.


I

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pachuca wins on penalty kicks after 1-1 game






It would have been nice to be there, but .....following the game on MLS Match Tracker and then discovering that Larry Millson was live blogging on the Globe (until the 65th minute ????) was all this fan could do. I am a huge fan of Larry Millson, best soccer reporter in these parts.
Julius James scored the TFC goal in the game.
Jeff Cunningham missed his penalty kick, please make this guy toast. Brennan and Harmse were the other Toronto players who did not score in penalty kicks (did anyone accomplish the John Terry slip ???)
Tyler Hemmings, Kevin Harmse, Tyler Rosenlund, Abdus Ibrahum, Nana Attakora were all starters. Robert, Ricketts, Brennan were among the few regulars who started.
Sutton played the first half and Edwards had the second.
There are reports that Andrea Lombardo was released.
Nothing new on the Dickov and Huckerby pursuit .....

I would gladly trade this loss tonight for a resounding victory in Vancouver this Wed.


Until then ...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Vancouver WhiteCaps beat TFC 1-0 or education continues even though school is out

Toronto FC hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps in a Canada Day match-up at BMO. The Whitecaps took the lead on a penalty kick in the first half. The kick was awarded after a foul was detected by the ref during a corner kick. I did not see it myself, but my eyes were following the path of the ball coming in.......( I would love to see a replay. If it was a dubious borderline call, I am predicting the same will happen as a make-up upon the return match in BC).
Once Vancouver had their goal, you sensed that the script was set. Vancouver would defend like crazy and hope for the rare counter-attack and Toronto would bang on the door for the rest of the afternoon. We all know how good TFC is at banging on the door. There was a handful of opportunities, a scattering of saves and Jeff Cunningham scored and had his effort called back on an offside. Another replay please to be sure before I throw my opinion around, but ....

Coach Carver is getting into the habit of making wholesale changes for the second half. Today he made his three at the half. Rohan Ricketts was replaced by Julius James, Danny Dichio by Jeff Cunningham and Jarrod Smith for Lauren Robert. The Ricketts move meant that Jim Brennan played the left wing for the second half. All of the substitutes had their moments, but no goals is still no goals.
Switching three at a time raises some questions. Is this an indication that the Coach is trying to expand his squad or is it a sign of panic when the team fails to score ?


TFC has now played twice in this Canadian Championship, hosting Vancouver today and playing in Montreal last month. Over those two games they have scored one goal and allowed one goal. If this was against MLS teams, it may seem an acceptable result. The fact that this games are against USL teams has many wondering. Should we say that TFC are a team compatible with the lower league or praise the other Canadian teams as being better than expected.


So what have we learned ?? Toronto continues to have a goal scoring crisis.

Give Vancouver credit, they followed the plan on how to grab a road win perfectly. This was the type of performance that Toronto fans wanted to see last Saturday when playing New England. Take your opportunity and then hold on for dear life.
Now Toronto has to come on strong in this competition. Montreal has two victories with only one more game to play. Toronto has one victory with two more games to play.

Next game is home on the weekend against Pachuca of Mexico.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Deserving of a point New England 2 Toronto 1

The road performance of TFC is still the problem that won't go away. TFC fans turn on their TVs with far more concern than swagger for these away games. Just squeek a tie was my fondest desire as I settled down to watch. As it turned out, that was almost the result, but the bounces were not going Toronto's way. When you consider that last year's team was twice clobbered in New England, the contest being this close tonight is a large indication of the progress that Toronto has made.
Here's hoping that the solution can be found before it becomes the downfall of the season. You don't have to be a genius to note that a striker who can finish continues to be the top item on the wish list. It is a healthy team that has two keepers that can be called upon. I remain a fan of Brian Edwards, a rookie with real promise. Sure it is my bout of hindsight, but perhaps Greg Sutton could have handled at least one of those goal area scrambles better. A win in New England is on the horizon, I can just feel it.
New England Revolution were the most economical of teams. Nothing flashy or fancy. They were able to strike quickly and take advantage of the two Toronto defensive confusions. They happened too quickly to fully call them breakdowns. Steve Ralston of NE scored twice. Maurice Edu scored the late Toronto goal.
Besides the flurry of late game opportunities (the most notable Jarrod Smith had a header stopped on the goal line late in the game) Toronto had many stretches of alert offensive play. All TFC players made attacking contributions (well, not Carl Robinson beyond some long range passes, one learns not to expect shots from a deep playing midfielder). Guevara was distributing the ball to the wings and making some runs through traffic. He even made smart plays to Rohan Ricketts. In the first half you could see the central role that Ricketts is starting to play on this team. I am puzzled as to why he was replaced by Julius James in the second half. Injury ? Did he blow a defensive assignment and caused the second goal? (I am guessing, I did not see that on the television)
The Cunningham for Dichio switch was only a bad one because you know that Cunningham is not going to contribute much beyond speed. Dichio had battled well and had some touches but no scoring opportunities.
Edu had an encouraging game, his passes were improving and he was moving into the attack more and more. It was good to see him score. Here's hoping that the goals will continue to come.

Negatives ??
Very few...and all related to the goals. Credit to NE for making the most of their opportunities, but on the first Marshall, Edwards and Brennan managed to mess up on the defending basics. The second one saw a hit crossbar shot inspire sloppy defending.
The other concern to close with is the collection of yellow cards (Robert, Edu, Marshall, Guevara I think). Jim Brennan gets the award for best swearing on a televised sports event in a long time. No delay and sideline microphones turned up high could be the next slogan for the MLS.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

TFC 0 KC 0 - Dichio a half step short of victory ??.

It was a cruel end to a game that had Toronto misfiring offensively in a way that obscures all of the defensive positives. This continuing rise of TFC strength and success in 08 is a wonderful thing indeed. Yet, it has created an air of expectations (both from the fans and judging from media comments, the team as well). At the end of the Saturday afternoon game, which saw Kansas City wrangle TFC to a goalfree draw, the crowd seemed subdued. Gone forever are the days when a tie was looked upon as a step up from a loss. That "called back for offside" Danny Dichio goal contributed to this bewildered feeling in the air. The split second of joy was cruel indeed. Walking away from the stadium I was thinking that we should have been celebrating goals all afternoon. The continued lack of scoring punch is a pain and a concern. KC could have been defeated with only the smallest increase in coherence and luck. Or only the smallest of personnel changes (hello DP, goodbye Cunningham).
Yes,TFC remains undefeated at home. Two goals against in eight home games is an incredible statistic with no signs of change ahead. Toronto has talent,depth and potential in the back four and talent and depth in the goal keeper department.
To make the next step forward, solid at the back is not enough. Goalless home draws will get you nada. For a team with potential, a tie at home is a squandered opportunity and Toronto now has three of them. John Carver commented after the game that the result could have a playoff impact ahead. Now road ties through the long hot summer will be a different matter...bring them on !!
So what is the problem with the offense ? Possibly too many combinations in the attack that do not seem to connect or create opportunities. The team gets tentative and The Cunningham lack of finish is a long running story. My willingness to say after every game that this was his last appearance in a Toronto uniform has become a long running joke.
Wynne and Ricketts seldom seem on the same page when they share the right side. Rohan Ricketts breakthrough two goal performance was from the left wing. Wynne does not run overlaps effectively when Ricketts has the ball. You would think that Ricketts' turn on a dime skills should mesh well with Wynne's incredible speed. Give them more time....

When Guevara was substituted in the second half he added some energy, but KC soon figured out that it was selfish energy and were able to close him down. Clearly Guevara missed the memo on the emergence of Ricketts as a part of the attack. It seemed he only supplied the ball to Ricketts on his left when most or all other options were already taken. I guess we are seeing the flipside to the wolf (Lobo) nickname for Guevara. The lone wolf approach is a great one when his drive produces goals. It is not so great when he is holding the ball too long and ignoring his options.
Danny Dichio had his usual workhorse of a game. He was even showing surprising speed and stamina in the second half. I fear that the KC defenders (Conrad and co) present the same high level of physical strength and size as the Columbus defenders(Marshall and co). Dichio was in a tussle for position all afternoon long. I think that the calls for a new striker are not meant to take away from Dichio's role on the team. It would be great to have Dichio come off the bench fresh against tired defenders. We remember to well the summer of 07 and the consequences of wearing Dichio out and losing him to the injury list. The qualifying against Montreal and Vancouver is increasing TFC games already. If TFC gets to the Concacaf Champions League the need for strikers is going to grow. Ali Gerba looked strong for Canada Friday night (against a low quality opponent, I know). I have liked the idea of adding Gerba, based on last June's Gold Cup showing, for some time now.
Back to Dichio. My upper deck seat should meant that my position was perfect for the offside call on Dichio. I was sure that he stepped to the side at the moment of impact and then went forward, but the CBC replay clearly showed him out forward. I guess my eyes were those of a fan, not a ref.
Carl Robinson continues to grow on me. He played his role perfectly, always in the right spot and creating tempo of tackle- pass, tackle -pass. He does need to step up and contribute to the shot totals however. Especially as Maurice Edu continues his tentative ways. I suggest that TFC will play Robinson or Edu as the sole holding midfielder at some point in the season. Will that also be the time that the strikers are Gerba and the long awaited Designated Player ??
Now onto New England where a tie would be ample reason for singing, flag waving and general euphoria.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

TFC 3 Colorado Rapids 1 Rohan Ricketts Rules



Rohan Ricketts' fully arrived in Toronto the other night. His performance Saturday night was a wonderful treat. He turned all those recent flashes of potential and promise into the real deal in a dazzling night at BMO Field. His two second half goals were the difference as he sparked a victory over the visiting Colorado Rapids. More than the great goals, he was a wizard with the ball and was turning the Rapid defenders into pretzels time and time again. Ricketts has had been adjusting to his new surroundings and made an impression on the telecast from Houston last week. When Carver replaced him with Dichio in the early second half last week, you were left wondering why. He has made his claim for staying on the field for 90 minutes with this performance.

This offensive burst was unexpected and welcome indeed. TFC has been a revolving international duty door lately, as the team was missing Maurice Edu, Greg Sutton, Jim Brennan, Amado Guevara and Tyrone Marshall as they were with their respective national teams. So it was a makeshift, patchwork lineup (and you suspect that combining makeshift with patchwork is not the greatest recipe for footy success). So there was a tentative mood to the start of the game as all of the new player combinations began to shred their newbie stage.
The back four of Dunivant, Tebily, Velez and Wynne were fighting the ball in the early going, but they settled down and did a solid job. What a luxury to have this quality without using Brennan, Marshall and James.

The ref tonight was G.W.T. Wind of Barely There, Ohio (okay he was Jair Marrufo, but I like his assistant's name, Kermit Quisenberry better). It was hard to get a grip on how Marrufo saw things as he swayed throughout the game. He was Toronto's kind of ref in the first half as he watched a shoulder charge from Marvell Wynne upon Colin Clark and said play on. It was a sideline challenge and Clark made a meal of it. From my vantage point Clark was pounding his feet into the turf in either total agony or the sort of elevated petulance that signals Mom to suggest a nap. I was expecting him to start tearing at his own clothes in exasperation that this performance was not going to be rewarded. The crowd anticipated the miracle health recovery and kept up the boos when he touched the ball well into the second half. Later when the ref gave Jeff Cunningham a yellow for simulation, it would have seemed more just if Clark had picked one up in the first.. It also seemed to me that the Colorado goal was a gift from the ref. The Rapids were being let back into the game so that the trouble that was brewing at midfield, after a foul there was some words and pushing, would not boil over. So glad it was just too little, too late.

TFC has now allowed two goals in seven games at home this year (Sutton against New York and now Edwards against Colorado). This is beyond all expectations. A great feeling to go from the team that cannot score to the team that cannot be scored upon.


Observations from the Upper Deck

Danny Dichio's having an incredible season. His work and energy coninues to improve. The skill and anticipation that produced his goal was of the highest quality. Jeff Cunningham is another story. Maybe the entire team has a fixation on getting him his 100th goal and that does not help him. It seems that he is trying to hard and his scoring touch is too often vacant. It might seem odd to be writing this about a player who has scored in the two prior games, but the relationship between goals and opportunities is a worry.

With the MLS coming out against streamers that interfere with play there will be a little dance between TFC authorities and the fans on the issue of streamers. The club will make the announcements and the fans will boo and the corner kick streamer showers will slowly ebb away. TFC fans have enough energy that a new and creative way to distract the opposing players will be found.

Fans with brains know that banning streamers because it encourages other objects to be thrown is convoluted at best. Then the rare, but brainless, throw bottles and beer cups at the Rapid keeper and you feel let down about taking the high road on the issue. I counted at least three objects thrown at Burpo. It is time for a clear statement and clear action that squashes this stupidity.


I am still shocked, like all of us, at the sudden unexpected death of Brian Budd this past week and the moment's silence for his passing was both appropriate and touching. I am old enough to have seen him play for the Blizzard. He was an entertaining character on The Score's EPL Sunday morning coverage. Media has a wonderful way of making a community out of the disconnected souls. His voice was important to us. He will be missed.