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?


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stillkicking said...

Thank you Trout, sorry I took so long to post your report...asleep at the switch.

The potential for a Huckerby splashy debut is making Saturday seem a touch scary.

PS I think some posters on forums are mentioning that the substitutes for TFC were all CSL players who were called up ... so TFC depth continues to be a concern- I think the roster is still a few players short - but the salary cap determines this more than the roster max for developmental players.

trout said...

I think that if we're seeing csl players play it bodes well for potential depth anyway. They didn't seem to do so bad anyway.