Saturday, May 17, 2008
Toronto 0 Columbus 0 - oh for a bulge
Folks have a hard time with gloomy guys. One slowly learns the benefits of positive thinking. So, TFC remains undefeated at home in 2008. This was Toronto’s seventh game, but only the second time they have been held scoreless. Last year’s version of TFC only had 7 ties in a 30 game schedule. This year already they boast two ties. Greg Sutton and the Toronto defense has only allowed one goal in the first four games of the five game home stand. They are undefeated in their last five games now.
Are those enough positives ?? I hope so, because I do not think I can hold back the gripes much longer. It was an entertaining game, although frustrating too as Toronto seemed a few steps or touches away from success on the offensive end. Robert’s second half shot that hit the post was TFC’s closest moment to victory. Then the increasing tension in the last 20 minutes kicked in. The chances of a Toronto goal seemed more and more remote and the fear that Columbus could somehow steal it with a late surprise goal was beginning to haunt me. I get like that. The feared event never happened, final score 0-0, but it was not a joyous end. All of those positives above came to me after hours of hard thinking.
Overall,Toronto appeared to be the stronger team today. Columbus has been the surprise team of MLS 2008 and is leading the East with only one loss. However Toronto did not take a back seat in any category. The TFC improvements since the season opener are considerable. Still they have to know that if you fail to convert your opportunities and half chances into goals, moral victories are the best you are going to get.
Toronto FC needs a striker. The rumours swirl on the online forums that a designated player forward will be the next move for Mo. Today watching the endless Dichio tussle with the many Columbus Crew defenders convinced me that such a move is a wise one. Dichio attracts attention, gets to his fair share of balls and uses his warrior approach well as defenders tug, push and climb up on him. His abilities are there, but more than Dichio is needed to expand the offense.
TFC had most of the ball in the first half but few real chances at goal. In fact the Crew midfield had done their homework, soon recovered and began to shutdown things in the middle and late section of the first half. For a while all the Toronto ball control was in the back four. Repeatedly they were only able to pass to midfielders who had their back to the Crew goal and therefore were forever passing back to the TFC defenders. Greg Sutton was only truly tested once and Tyrone Marshall was there to save the moment when a shot eluded the keeper.
In the early going it seemed that this was going to be the breakout game that Maurice Edu fans have been hoping for. Carl Robinson had another of his superb midfield general performances. He was tough in the tackle, great anticipation and moved the ball well. I am not ready to say that a good Robinson means an invisible Edu because Robinson works hard to make everyone look good
Not so long ago I liked the way Coach Carver would switch his wingers, Ricketts and Robert. Today I was not sure that it was helping much. Ricketts is not establishing an offensive role on this team. His ordinary shot in the second half on his best clear chance is not winning him fans either. Robert clearly wants to get the ball onto his left foot and when he has an opportunity from the right side, he ends up trying to make a lateral move to try to get his left free. The Crew defenders seemed to be ready to shadow him along into the downtown area.
I don’t like to give number ratings for each and every player, but let me play names and observations
Wynne and Brennan - both consistent and improving offensive contributions
G Schelotto - spent the day campaigning for a yellow card, should have found one earlier
Velez and Marshall - steady and dependable
Guevara - ok, but quiet by his recent standards
Jeff Cunningham - runs and wins, but still looking for finish
Kevin Stott - still a favourite MLS ref
Frankie Hejduk - wanted to join the Columbus whine club
Now onto a home and home series against DC United, a team that has been responsible for Toronto’s low point of the season so far - the 4-1 hammering in Washington back in April. Since then DC has been battered about and is in the cellar of the East. These games could give Toronto an opportunity to dig a deeper pit for the team that had the best record in the regular season last year or it could be the DC route out of the darkness. Based on recent form though it could be a pair of ties .....