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.