Saturday, August 8, 2009

TFC life after Real Madrid

Ok, today I start with a theory. It has been quite a week.
My theory is that the Puerto Rico Islanders put Toronto FC (players, coaches and front office) in their proper place by eliminating them from CONCACAF Champion's League earlier this week. Improvements in tactics, offensive ability, adapting your game to different conditions are all on TFC's list.
Real Madrid, however, put Toronto's fans in their proper place. It is possible to support your team with a passion and still demand more. Demand a lot more. Real Madrid simply demanded a natural grass field and got it. Then they came to town and displayed talent and talent and more talent. How did they get that talent, you may ask? Why, they paid for it.

Now that I have seen Real Madrid come at TFC in waves, I am inspired to ask the questions.
Why does Toronto not have a designated player?
Why does Toronto not have two designated players?
A striker who is hard to stop would be nice. Did you see Raul rip it into the net last night? A winger who can create opportunities for himself (or set-up DeRo, Cronin, Gerba, Dichio, etc) would be welcome. Sure Ronaldo is beyond MLS for another two decades, but Arlen Robben looked incredible. I know, I know he would break the bank too. A central defender who can command the back could do the trick. A creative attacking midfielder?
I know that progress has been happening over the three years of TFC history. I am not forgetting that superb moves have been made. Bringing in DeRo, Serioux, Garcia and Gerba are all positives. Drafting White, Cronin and Frei was great. Insert cliche about building Rome or throwing bathwater here.
I know MLS is a salary cap system. I know the NASL went bust. Yet, you can't tantalize the home crowd with champagne and then expect us all to go back to swigging from the bargain bin and be happy with it.

Real Madrid played at a speed and skill level last night that was just breathtaking and mind boggling. Toronto's inability to defend when the pressure arrives in the box might have enhanced things a little, but not a lot. The Real Madrid offensive display was more than just Ronaldo's fleet feet. It was everyone in motion and with purpose. When Real Madrid had the ball you were scanning the field for which option they were going to choose. Real Madrid = oh you are going to dribble and then pass to him,him,him, goal! TFC seldom gives us that luxury. It is a diet of "that's never worked before, but what else can we do?"
As TFC tried to get back into the game in the first half, I started to speculate about the quality of Real Madrid's back four. In that part of the field alone, Toronto was encountering talent beyond MLS. Who playing in North America could make that team? When Real Madrid made their triple substitution just past 60 minutes in the second half, you had to chuckle that the subs were Alonso, Robben and Alvaro Negrado. You might see that much talent coming onto the field if you combine every second half substitution made in MLS this month (season?).
I also have my pet theory that Real Madrid is always thinking about Barcelona. It is part of the team culture and recent history (last year's Champions League and La Liga) contributes as well. It is also because Barcelona are touring North America too. So Barcelona scores 4 in Seattle on Thursday I think contributed to Real Madrid scoring 5 in Toronto. I don't think the Toronto goal was part of the plan,

Gabe Gala was not my TFC find of the night, my new find is O'Brian White. If players can change, bloggers can see the light. Earlier this week I was trying to get Mr. White into the next Star Trek movie on his ability to be invisible without anyone needing to say "beam me up."
Well, last night he made me eat my words. Ali Gerba had done little and was running out of gas in the second half. Gerba has shown promise with TFC, he can battle MLS defenders and get to the ball. La Liga defenders? Real Madrid defenders? Then O'Brian White took the field and he was making runs and showing energy like never before. His break and shot forced Dudek to dive and stop it when Gabe Gala scored. Full credit to Gabe Gala for pouncing on the opportunity. I would love to see Gala get some playing time due to his goal, but put him on the field with O'Brian White please or those opportunities are not going to come.

I will post later about my media career.

Scoring Summary:
RMD -- Raul 1 (unassisted) 13
RMD -- Cristiano Ronaldo 1 (Karim Benzema ) 19
RMD -- Raul 2 (Christoph Metzelder 1, Raul Albiol 1) 26
RMD -- Karim Benzema 1 (Alvaro Negrado ) 65
TOR -- Gabe Gala 1 (unassisted) 75
RMD -- Arjen Robben 1 (Karim Benzema ) 86

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