Nick Garcia poses with irate visitor from space
For a handful of seconds Saturday night, early in the second half against Chicago Fire, Toronto FC looked like a team that knows how to play this game. Gerba with the ball at the half line in traffic, rather than his usual solo struggles out in the wastelands, sent the ball out to the left wing for Dero. Dero attacked that wing and sent in a cross with real promise and pace. Chad Barrett showed a finishing touch and scored the goal, but more importantly he made a strong run to the near post in anticipation. Runs in anticipation or even runs to act as a decoy to pull and stretch the defenders were in very short supply in Chicago. Those few seconds just make you shake your head about all the other 89+minutes. If they are capable, why do we have to suffer through so much pointless play? This is a team that is playing their 27th MLS season game of 2009, with 4 Canadian games, two CCL games against Puerto Rico and two international friendlies also under their belt. Why do they look like they are stumbling through a pre-season scrimmage? Craig Forrest, throughout the broadcast, has fallen in love with the term “ring rust”. He used it everytime Brian McBride was on the screen. Toronto FC played like a team with an extended case of everywhere rust.
Overall I have to file last night’s game under the odd and dull category. Toronto FC played an overall ineffective game and yet came away from a road game in Chicago with a point. A win would have created so many more opportunities for a playoff berth, but a tie does not eliminate them. Every game of the remaining three are must wins, yet it is still possible to win all three and not make it to the post-season.
The biggest mistake I made last night was switch the channel after the game. I stumbled on the Blackburn v Aston Villa game on Setanta Sports. The speed of play, the way players with the ball instantly seemed to have a plan and those off the ball seemed to be playing their part in that plan at incredible speed was, after plodding through Chicago v TFC, astonishing.
Sometimes you wonder just what Gerry Dobson’s vision and vocabulary is connected to. He described the first half as entertaining. I thought that the Dero goal was a matter of taking advantage of Chicago’s botched ball handling in the back and Nick Garcia came up with an own goal that was truly awful. I can recall no exciting shots or saves, both teams showed substandard ball control and I have experienced more excitement at a “watching paint dry” festival. Perhaps Dobson has lower standards.
For that matter, I am not at all sure that I understand Chris Cummin’s vision and vocabulary . I do understand that it is an adjustment period, that plopping de Guzman into the midfield is not going to click overnight. Yet, it is hard to cheer for a team in such a big overhaul mode when the success of the season hangs in the balance. In LA, de Guzman and Guevara seem to be playing well together and Dero went missing. In Chicago, Dero comes on strong and it's de Guzman and Guevara (to a lesser extent) who move into the invisible category. I thought that Emmanuel Gomez had shown enough size, skill and energy against Seattle and Puerto Rico in August that he should at least be a defensive substitute. If Carl Robinson is healthy enough to play, surely having him play in a central defending role is better than another Nick Garcia appearance.
It is a good thing that we fans now face a two week gap in the schedule. TFC does not take the field again until the home game on the Thanksgiving weekend. Please TFC, I want my Saturday to be turkey free.