Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A first step against Montagua, but was 1-0 enough?

Toronto FC defeated Montagua of Honduras 1-0 in the first leg of their two game series at BMO tonight. Chad Barrett was the goal scorer in the first half, converting with his left foot a smooth set-up pass from DeRo.
TFC looked the stronger team for most of the night, but the old story of Toronto not converting opportunities into goals was the main theme.
Now TFC has to play on the weekend in KC and then down in Honduras next Tuesday. It will be interesting to see how Preki manages his squad through this.
Joseph Nane looked good in the central midfield last night. He displays more skill and confidence with the ball than what we have been seeing from Sanyang. Has Nane won a starting role or was his play last night part of a midfield rotation?
O'Brian White's performance continues to be underwhelming. The signings of Mista and Maicon Santos have to lead to White becoming a bench player, right?
What happened to Mo's talk that a winger signing was happening soon? I thought that Bas Ent looked ok against Bolton last week.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Youth and mystery - Preki plays with Bolton

So, just who were those guys in red? This was a night of squinting, head scratching and wondering if TFC has found some gems or if Bolton was still three weeks from truly caring.
Coach Preki gave the night off to the following - Frei, DeRo, Deguzman, Gargan, Sanyang, Attakora, Cann, Garcia, Labrocca and the Chad. Yet the team did not suffer, mostly due to the play of Mista and Maicon Santos.
The regular players who saw some time were Usanov, Gala, Hscanovics, Ibrahim, Peterson and White, plus the keepers Conway and Kocic. Kocic had the save of the game in the second half, a twisting dive to his right.
I think the Academy players all saw some playing time. I would list them if I could find their names.
Call ups and trialists were Mirko Medic - central defender (he looked solid and capable), Drazen Vukovic - midfield, Miodrag Andjelkovic - forward and Bas Ent - winger.
There were so many players that I may be mistaken on a name or five, but if the player tearing down the right wing all second half was the trialist Bas Ent, then sign him up. He was the controlling the attack and crossing with authority. I want to see what he brings to the first team. Second half also saw some solid play from Miodrag Andjelkovic at striker and left winger Henry also looked good.
The first half play of Mista and Maicon Santos was of excellent quality. Mista was willing to come back and get involved in developing play. He could be the attacking focus of the midfield that has been missing since the departure of Guevara.
Since Saturday has an important game vs Dallas and the CONCACAF home and home starts next Tuesday, resting most of the starters was a wise move for Coach Preki. It was a fun night out, but did not compare to the Aston Villa friendly a few years ago.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Toronto FC brings back bad habits- Philly 2 Toronto 1

Toronto FC were almost able to steal a point from Philadelphia Saturday afternoon. Although TFC barely deserved it from their level of play, Chad Barrett had tied the game late and it looked like a road point was in the bag. Then Maxim Usanov was called on a hand ball in the box and Philly Union's Le Toux beat Frei on the pk.

I suspect that I am suffering from a World Cup hangover. I figure that the hangover started for most footy fans during the WC 2010 final last weekend. The final was a dud as entertainment. We need a dose of the "beautiful game"

Toronto might have made some minor steps forward in the Preki era, but they are not the team you want to see if you want to avoid entertainment duds. Grind it out defending and an attack that sputters and sprays passes around the province is what's on the menu. Those old bad habits of TFC -giving up late goals and losing to expansion teams- were brought back for the game at PPL Park.

There are just too many passengers on the squad judging from the effort against the Union. Fuad Ibriham, Nick Garcia, Maxim Usanov need to spend more time on the bench. I hope that getting Mista into the squad might mean a shuffle- but more help is needed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

TFC 1 Houston 1- Midfield contributes more red cards than goals

Or should the headline be "Midfield contributes more reds cards than shots on target". The scoring woes continue with Toronto FC, although they came from behind to tie the Houston Dynamo at BMO Saturday night. It was a game where Toronto's mess of a midfield continues to annoy.  DeGuzman picked up his red card for throwing a punch in a tussle down by Toronto's goal. The Houston midfielder Ngwenya inspired Attakora's physical response by not stopping at a whistle. DeGuzman expressed his displeasure too. I wish I had seen DeGuzman's punch clearly, it would have been the first time he has hit a target at BMO Field this year. The central midfield of Toronto, whether they use DeGuzman, Sanyang or Saric (who did not play against Houston) is just too defensive. Sanyang continues to struggle with the ball and I suspect that it was his assignment to cover Brian Ching when he scored for the Dynamo on the corner kick. The wings, whether using Peterson, Labrocca or Gala, is unable to carry any sustained attack. The midfield is all hold and no spark.
I am not letting the forwards off the hook for the lack of potency. Chad works and works, O'Brien White chugs and struggles, DeRo holds and looks for someone to respond. The late substitute Fuad Ibrahim provided the only bright spot, it was his corner kick to the far post that Dan Gargan headed for the goal.
TFC needs a few more Dan Gargans. You know that the back four are solid when the excellence of Gargan, Cann and Attakora allow them to carry along Nick Garcia out to the left.
TFC have gained 3 points in their last 3 home games. You can look on the bright side (you know the TFC front office will) and say that a home stretch with only one goal given up is a sign of defensive and goalkeeping strength. The flip side holds my attention, three games with only one goal scored is getting to be offensive.
So this means 6 points that will have to be picked up on the road if this is to be a playoff year. If the attack looks like this after the month of June off, what does the future hold?  There had better be scoring help on the horizon. July 15th, I believe, is the date where MLS summer signings are announced. It is a date circled on my calendar.