It is going to be a long year. The rebuild of Toronto FC, the Coach Winter era may have better days ahead, but things look mighty shaky at the start. Today Vancouver Whitecaps opened their first MLS season with a home victory over TFC, 4-2. Dero and Maicon Santos scored the Toronto goals, each a fine effort, but only the Dero goal arrived when the result was still in doubt.
Sure, Toronto allowed four goals and there could be a direct link between Toronto defensive blunders and each Whitecap goal. Let’s see, scapegoats on goals seemed to go…
1. Gargan loses their striker,
2. Attakora hangs back instead of challenging their midfielder as he saunters just outside the box,
3. Gargan gives a gift away,
4. everybody goes to sleep on that offside trap play.
Yet my beef is with the team formation, the lack of link play, the burden of attack coming from the back wearing out the defenders.
The back five today were all returning from last year’s squad, Frei in net, Gargan, Attakora, Harden and Cann defending. I maintain that Attakora should be playing right back and the physical pounding he took today from the Whitecap striker Hassli seems to be the price he will always pay when having to bring the ball up from a central position. I know that the Cann and Attakora pairing centrally was the basis of the TFC defending of 2010, but today sure indicates that an upgrade is needed. I am willing to bet that the Cann at left back experiment has ended and next game will see the starting of Yourassowsky in that position.
I remain unconvinced that playing a 4-3-3 formation will work for Toronto. I fear that it would take 10 magicians with the ball, stunning control players, to make it work. Let’s face it, MLS is a hard knock, tough tackling league. 10 magicians? Some would argue that it would be great to have one. I am not a proponent of kick and chase, but today was either a quick loss of possession or a lot of meaningless passing around the back.
We have a midfield smothered, when they have the ball going forward they are too often in isolation. Mr. Peterson meet Mr. Martina, Mr. Dero meet Mr. Soolsma. On my screen these guys were always in their own worlds for most of the first half. In the second half they vanished. I know that Soolsma was subbed out, but what about the others. I thought Peterson had a few valiant efforts and Nathan Sturgis played a holding role with some skill. Keith Makubuya was the young Canadian who played the wing in place of Soolsma in the second half. Vancouver was able to shut everyone else down consistently, so it would be unfair to expect something from an 18 year old.
Next Satuday, in the home opener, TFC faces the other expansion team, Portland Timbers. Can Toronto become a team in a week or will the Timbers duplicate the Whitecaps success?