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.

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