Saturday, August 9, 2008
Makeshift TFC gut out a victory in Colorado
Wow, a road victory, an honest to goodness road victory. Toronto defeated Colorado 1-0 today. A great goal from Chad Barrett very close to the end of the first half and then a rollicking, nail biter defense in the eventful second half were the key ingredients.
Watching TFC as visitors on television has become a battle between hope and history. It was tough to muster up much on the hope side going into this one. Guevara and Velez out on suspensions, Wynne and Edu at the Olympics, Dichio still doubtful. It was not looking good. The continued lack of significant signings to strengthen the team is a nagging concern (Dunivant, Cunningham and Tebily have left holes still to be filled).
At least Toronto has not been clobbered away from BMO of late. Yet the recent away games in both Salt Lake City and in Chicago had added blown opportunities to hold onto ties on the road as a new wrinkle to a sad story.
So the day started with a very unique line-up, a 4-3-3. It was hard to decide if this was brilliance or desperation.
Attakora James Marshall Brennan
Harmse Robinson Ricketts
Smith Barrett Ibrahim
The formation worked though. TFC started with energy, Jarrod Smith had some early chances on balls down the wing. He seemed to be fighting the altitude and was not reaching long balls. It looked like he was brought down in the box in the early going, but no call given. The day put to rest the early fear that it was going to be another tough day from the officials. Omar Cummings in particular was always a threat for the Rapids. When chasing back on a Colorado break, Tyrone Marshall went down with what looked like a leg injury (later described as a popping of his quad) So Marshall came out of the game, Tyler Rosenlund came into the midfield and Carl Robinson dropped back as central defender.
Both teams had opportunities but Sutton was playing well. One memorable move for him was coming out on Conor Casey and kicking away the ball.
The TFC goal was a highlight gem. Chad Barrett hit a perfect high screamer into the upper left corner from just outside the box and scored his first TFC goal. Colorado’s keeper Bouna Coundoul made a brave effort, but it was undeniable. The free kick had been won through Rohan Ricketts’ determination with the ball as he pressured the Rapid defenders (although he did seem to miss a give and go opportunity with Attakora).
Colin Clark picked up a yellow card at the end of the first half and that proved critical.
Now the second half was a roller coaster ride.
The indirect free kick awarded TFC when Coundoul handled a back pass was squandered. I admit that this would not be the scenario that many teams would plan for. Yet it seemed that either playing the ball back to a shooter who would still be in great range or changing the point of attack would at least looked like a strategy. Instead the ball was too easily cleared by the charging keeper.
The game turned when the Rapids’ Colin Clark thumped Attakora on the line from behind and picked up his 2nd yellow and was ejected. Did he carry a grudge into this game against TFC based on his being challenged into the boards in the June Toronto game ?? Although Colorado put on the pressure and had some scoring opportunities still to come, you felt it was more TFC having scrambling moments rather than a master plan from the home side.
Rohan Ricketts picked up what looked like a cramp in his leg and Gabe Gala took his place on the left wing.
Greg Sutton kicked the ball into the stands in the late minutes over a corner call went against him. It earned him a yellow card. Danny Dichio came on for Chad Barrett and contributed to the play at both ends.
Nana Attakora-Gyan looked strong on the ball and in the tackle and is making the most of his opportunity (his shirt only had Attakora as the name= so I am doing the same). Rosenlund, Gala made solid contributions, maybe not a starter spot grab, but solid.
So TFC remain afloat, playoff talk is not insane today.