Sunday, August 3, 2008
Small atomic device goes off at BMO field, referee shields self with red cards
FC Dallas 2 - TFC 0
This game could be the turning point in the season. Many of the bad things about TFC were on display today, including frustration and violent temper (which in this case go hand in hand). Don't get me wrong, there was lots of good on display, just that it was overshadowed by what happened in the second half.
TFC demonstrated almost exactly what they have been showing the last several games, many chances (or, if you prefer, half chances) created, but little or nothing to show for it. Also, the general strategy for opposing teams has been to pack the penalty area and/or centre of the field with defenders to try to frustrate the creative midfield of Toronto. This is what we saw from Dallas today. The aim was to frustrate and overwhelm any attacks in front of the net and, like KC, San Jose and a host of other teams, they succeeded.
As early as the sixth minute Carl Robinson was yelling at Jeff Cunningham about his positioning. For the most part the first half was dominated by the reds, and there were vigorous performances by a number of players including Rohan Ricketts, Guevara, Barrett (more on him later) and, surprise, surprise, Jeff Cunningham.
Cunningham looked as though his new prescription glasses had come in and he finally saw the writing on the wall. He had a number of useful attacks, several chances to score, ran hard, got stuck in on tackles and even made a couple of defensive plays just outside the 18 yard box. Also, as a first impression, it seems that he might be a good strike partner with Barett, time will tell. He still has problems with his finishing but maybe, just maybe, he's working has way out of it.
Most of Dallas’ chances in the first half came from outside the 18 yard box. Nothing too dangerous, in fact, their best chance came from a ball headed over the net by Jim Brennan. More potent attacks came from the hoops in the last five minutes of the first half, and continued into the second half of play.
I wasn’t too impressed with Kenny Cooper, he's a big guy, gets into some scoring positions, but he’s not a world beater (although he would look good in a TFC uni). I know he scored both goals, and I give him credit for being cool and clinical while BMO was imploding during the penalty take, but colour me unimpressed. Adrian Serioux was the best Dallas player on the pitch. He was defensive and willing to join the attack. Why isn’t he in a TFC uniform? Oh yeah, he was traded for Ronnie O’brien, and what did we get for O’brien? San Jose’s first pick. Hope that turns out for us next year!
At the end of the half I had that feeling that said this could be one of those cruel games, unique to soccer, where one team works really hard and deserves to win, but the other team gets lucky and manages to steal 3 points. Unfortunately, Dallas' three points was earned less from their own efforts and more from a complete meltdown from frustration on TFC's part. The key moment in the second half took place when Amado Guevara took a swipe at one of the Dallas players in the Toronto penalty area. I believe that be was expressing the frustration that we've all been feeling over the last two months. Unfortunately he was in view of the referee, who deemed his action to be violent conduct. Guevara was red carded, a penalty was awarded, a goal was scored, and a firestorm erupted in fortress BMO. Not too long after this Marco Velez was shown a second yellow, for dissent, and TFC were down to 9 players. A number of Toronto players had been griping at the ref for some time, but Velez was nicely placed for the Referee to put another nail in the TFC coffin. Kenny Cooper’s long range worm burner (if the field turf had worms, that is) that eluded Greg Sutton just confirmed what everyone was hoping against.
In the end, the frustration was palpable. The players, the coaches (those who had not been ordered off the field by the ref), and the fans showed outward signs of anger towards the officiating. Really, the men in yellow were nothing more than scapegoats for the disappointment we are all feeling. The crew did get an earful from John Carver as they lined up to leave the field. Not a single TFC player, save for one, approached the officials. The one who did was turned away by Carver, and then, to show his further frustration, the coach shoved the player in the direction of the dressing room. It will be astonishing if there are not repercussions from the league for the incidents today, if not for the coach then for the projectiles thrown by far too many fans.
What lies ahead for TFC? Before today I may have been optimistic, discussing playoffs and a possible MLS cup. Now, your guess is as good as mine. But, I’m starting to think that a DP will not cure what ails our team. A therapist on the other hand…
A note on Chad Barrett
I expected to come into this blog post discussing a great deal of things about Chad Barrett, how wrong I was. My research indicated to me that he could be one of two things, either a young man with lots of potential who will be moulded by Mo Johnston in his striking image. Or an immature striker, using the mould of Jeff Cunningham’s cement shoes. Sure, He’s a hard worker, he tackles physically and seems to be able to get behind the defence on numerous occasions, but today his touch eluded him on the chances he took. Of course, the jury is still out, and when two strike partners are blanketed by five defenders, not too many good things happen. Let’s just hope that the hamstring problem that took him out of the game is not serious, or we’re back to square one.
On the horizon are two away games, Colorado and New York. What we need are two resounding victories to get us out of this funk and rebuild our shattered confidence. If we see two (likely) losses, it may be the beginning of the end.
Thanks to Still Kicking, who has moved me to the substitutes bench. This game was certainly not a friendly.