The weather down by Lake Ontario today was wild, windy, wet and wintery. It is May and I want to retire the thermal underwear for the summer. That is as far as I can go in the complaint department. The Toronto FC 2010 unbeaten magic at home continued against the Chicago Fire with a 4-1 victory.
Going into the contest, I was nursing a sneaky fear that Chicago was capable of breaking the perfect TFC home record. The Fire seemed to be the sort of team that one week looked lousy and then the next week could jump up and bite someone. It was great to be wrong.
The starting line-up had me shaking my head at the midfield selection. Mr. Preki sent out LaBrocca, Sanyang, deGuzman and Peterson. I commented that it was a tough situation when you are asking 3 out of the 4 midfielders to play their best game in a Toronto uniform just to compete. I couldn’t decide if it was Sanyang or de Guzman that only had to match their best TFC effort. It is sad to observe that Jacob Peterson produced little on either wing and was subbed at half time.
This half-time change was part of Coach Preki’s recovery from his mistake of starting DeRo as striker. Maybe mistake is too harsh; perhaps miscalculation of the weather report would be accurate. DeRo and Chad had spent the first half chasing wind driven forward balls that were bound for Rochester. Having O’Brian White join Chad up front and shifting DeRo to the right wing at the start of the second half was the correct solution.
There was something in Julian de Guzman’s body language at the start of the second half that indicated that Toronto was going to go forward (oh, I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that he ran forward?).
Shortly into that half DeRo played White’s give and go from the wing and O’Brian W scores his first goal of the season, dribbling in DeRo’s cross. Then Chad Barrett did what he always does…. what on earth am I saying. HE SCORED TWO GOALS. Yes, that Chad Barrett.
Yet Nick LaBrocca tied Chad as the surprise of the day. I am not quite ready to form his fan club, but he was a 90-minute contributor. It may be faint praise, but LaBrocca wins the “Best game in a Toronto uniform” prize. Clearly, scoring a goal in the first half helps, but I suspect that he would have qualified even without the goal (that goal had to be the most wind assisted goal ever scored at BMO Field, although Chicago’s goal would be in the top three). He was not as “pass-happy”, but when he did pass they were accurate and timely. He seemed more comfortable on the ball and was willing to take on defenders. He kept possession and made some runs into space that were promising. He seemed to have his head up more and a better feel for opportunities ahead of him.
The Toronto back four were up to their usual tricks and that is a good thing. You could say that the Pause goal for Chicago came from so far away that it was more of midfield lapse. Cann and Attakora were strong, Gargan contributed a fine game and Usanov scares everyone from time to time. Raivis Hscanovics played some late minutes and he and LaBrocca are starting to look like they play on the same team.
After this big victory it is hard to find fault with Mr. Preki. Sure his line-ups always contain a surprise or two (clearly he prefers Sanyang over Cronin), but he recovers. So onto Montreal this Wednesday on television and then a west coast swing of LA and Vancouver before the next home game. The joy of today’s victory will be sweetened by results on the road, stay tuned.