Saturday, October 17, 2009
TFC hanging on, TFC 1 RSL 0
Today was a little lesson in redemption. I guess it is possible to bounce back. TFC looked a tougher team today, Cummins seemed a smarter coach and I might not have been alone in feeling that I was a more confident fan.
It was cold down by the lake this afternoon. Cold in temperature and cold creeping into the heart as so many elements of this week’s game seemed to mirror chilly aspects of last week’s game. Such as a scoreless first half, a Toronto goal early in the second half and then the visiting team storming the TFC end in the final minutes.
This time TFC got it right and defended to the end. We fans will gladly take the victory, but nobody wanted to witness another tight game. I was hoping for a Toronto goal scoring smorgasbord. Smorgasbord, now there is a fine word that has fallen out of fashion.
Guess who saved us from misery (or is it just postponed)? Chris Cummins, the coach who learns from mistakes, too bad he makes them in the first place.
Nick Garcia benched, Gomez playing was the first sign of hope. Amado Guevara back and patrolling the midfield with skill and stealth was item two. All substitutions were used in a timely manner makes it three (Sanyang in for Chad Barrett, proving that a defensive midfielder was on the bench last week, Lesley Felinga for DeRo and then late with Ali Gerba in for OB White).
Those starting line-up changes and wise substitutions were just part of the improvement. There seemed to be more flexibility in how TFC aligned themselves for different parts of the game. Brennan played more time as a midfielder than in the back four. Sam Cronin did time as midfielder, defender and even a winger up front. In those injury time minutes TFC looked more like a fortress and less like a shell. There was one late play when Brian Edwards came out to challenge for a long ball and managed to get the ball out on the west side. It was not a pretty play, but it was great to see Edwards take charge of aerial balls in his area. It has been a fairy tale finish for the season for the second year keeper. He has gone from Brian “Who” to the star of the show. I expect that even a fully recovered Stephan Frei might find it hard to get back the starter’s role in the New York game.
I extend the full Still Kicking salute to both Red Patch Boys and the U-Sector for the Danny Dichio mega banner. It is moments and efforts like that one that make you proud to wear the red and care for this team. Some days it feels like too much a cliché to call Toronto the home of the best fans in the MLS (and maybe I am just pissed that latecomers and early leavers are constantly obscuring my view of the game), but the banner salute to our first hero was no cliché.
Although the Brennan goal was critical to the victory and Edwards was able to make some incredible saves, I would have been inclined to vote for Emmanuel Gomez as the man of the match. He seemed to grow in confidence throughout the game. He was seldom out of position, played the ball with skill and strength and his ability to make up ground on attackers is a delight to watch. I guess I was looking for a player who brought another aspect
Julian de Guzman reads the game well and his wonderful skills seem to burn brightly from time to time. At the same time it also seems that he has yet to fully join the team. He seems to be too willing to defer to those around him when TFC has the ball. He has yet to grab a game by the tentacles and make it his own. New York could be his kind of town.