Saturday, March 14, 2009
TFC says goodbye to South Carolina - TFC 1 Real Salt Lake 2
Today the 2009 pre-season of TFC ended with the playing of their last game in the Charleston, South Carolina Challenge. TFC played Real Salt Lake, losing 2-1, in a game that supplied us with a little action and a lot of questions.
It could have been a more entertaining game as it was the match-up of two undefeated teams, but TFC let the suspense escape before we knew what hit us.
Salt Lake started the game with a relentless attack. The first goal came as a result of their third clear break at the keeper Frei in the early going. The second goal was RSL running unfettered in the Toronto goal mouth.
The two goal deficit was made steeper shortly after as Kevin Harmse picked up his second yellow and was ejected. Toronto managed to stay in the game with DeRo scoring just before half time. It was nice to have a little ray of optimism shining while you went to the fridge for refreshments.
Optimism was in short supply as the game wore on. Toronto had some well played stretches and it was possible to forget that TFC were playing a man down. A lucky bounce could have gone their way and on the one good chance, a free kick that skipped into Real Salt Lake’s net,Toronto was called back for offside. RSL would have won the tournament on goal difference anyway, had TFC managed to tie.
So back to those many questions (and things are foggy enough right now it's best to keep quiet on answers).
Keeper Did Stefan Frei have a bad game or did his defenders just leave him out to dry? Is he a rookie who will need to come along slowly as he learns the teams in the MLS and the names of his own defenders? Is he the TFC starter with Sutton as the veteran back-up or is Sutton the known quality and has the start in Kansas City?
The back four Is the central pairing of Serioux and Harmse as rocky as this tournament would suggest? Will TFC lead the MLS in red cards? Is there another player in the wings? Can Brennan and Wynne contribute as defenders first and attacking wingers second?
RSL was not just beating the back four with speed, but rather speed and timing. Before the TFC backline had a chance to step forward to spring the offside trap, RSL would have completed the perfect pass to the streaking player. Is this because the defenders have not had enough time together ?
Forwards Is the striker pairing of Barrett and Vitti the right one? Will they learn to complement one another and start taking shots or are they just decoys to keep defenders from swarming the true attacker, Dwayne DeRosario?
Given the choice, I would rather have TFC leaving the South Carolina shindig with these questions on their minds rather than unchecked optimism from a tournament win that will mean little in the months ahead. If TFC is going to go from worst to first, then a ton of work lies ahead and we are all better off knowing it. There was nothing shown today that a great game in Kansas City, followed by the same in Columbus could'nt cure.
TFC did the right thing in webcasting the Charleston games. It is a tradition worth keeping.