Welcome to Season 2.
Live from the Brazen Head. A wonderful pub on Liberty Street just north of the tracks in Liberty Village, an easy walk from BMO Field. They were kind enough to put aside a table for my post-game blogging efforts....
The sun was shining and the lakeside breezes were welcoming, without quite being hot. It was great to be back at BMO Field. The offseason just seems to melt into a blur (granted, a long cold blur) when you are finding your way to your seat and you catch your first glorious glimpse of the field ready for action.
I was not alone in feeling a little apprehensive about this match-up today, just that deductive logic kicking in. DC beats Toronto 4- 1 and in turn Real Salt Lake subsequently beats DC 4-0 , so you figure that this will be a tough one. Not quite. Real Salt Lake did not look potent at all. Greg Sutton was barely tested in the first half and although he was active in the second half, he was in charge all the way.
TFC's first half was a clear indication that the revamp of the midfield has been "the great leap forward" we fans were dreaming of. It was also evidence that the great striker search must continue. There was a multitude of ball movement in the midfield and the few days the players have been together does not show.....most of the time. There were more creative touches and crosses from the left in the first half than the entire season one. Not that this is a scientific analysis, but part of my cruel heart wants to edit a video montage of Robert's crosses from the left today and send the finished product to the home of Andy Welsh. TFC, we have come along way.
But about that striker... I admire Danny Dichio as much as the next twenty TFC fans.... but he is a workhorse of a striker and his impact will be enhanced if TFC can vary his workload. Start him when that has a tactical advantage. Today vs RSL it worked. I was surprised at how late John Carver substituted for Dichio, what was it the 88th minute ?? There are going to be days when coming off the bench will work better. There will be days to not use him at all. Here is where a Designated Player striker would be a supreme gift. Sure Jeff Cunningham gives TFC a speedier breakaway style of striker, but we all know how many chances he squanders.
Rohan Ricketts was playing his first game for TFC and I thought he showed a lot of poise on the ball. In the first half RSL seemed to be sending two players at him to shut him down and he was still able to make a strong move, emerge unscathed and launch attacks of possibility. In the second half he seemed both isolated and wide when Toronto had the ball. Perhaps he should have been substituted for defensive reasons, but Lauren Robert had the goal and is the old experienced guy. What little attack RSL was throwing forward seemed to be down the left and it was hard to see Ricketts as a defensive stopper. Carl Robinson was playing that role to perfection. I think that this influx of midfielders has given Robinson a new lease on life. He seemed more involved in the second half than the first, but that was when his tackling and marking was needed the most.
Something in the crusty old brain predicts that Rohan Ricketts and Marvell Wynne will combine for some thrilling goals this year...
Give me some time to digest this one. Velez and Marshall might have prompted an inward groan when they were announced as the central defenders, but they worked and they worked and the glaring gaffes were avoided.
Wow, what an afternoon. TFC has a 2-2 record, a feat never before accomplished. Two victories under the belt and still a game to play in April. Five goals already to their credit. Next Saturday we get to do this all again. I love the season. Catch you later.