I held off writing my blog on Saturday night’s game until Sunday morning. I thought that I needed time to cool off. I think we can file that idea as yet another strategy that isn’t working regarding Toronto FC and the fans. I knew there were going to be bad nights going into “Season V – the rebuild”, but I think something snapped last night. A fan to team bond is in doubt and danger.
From the beginning of Toronto FC there seemed to be an attitude, quickly forged, that I saw totally abandoned last night. Players such as Jim Brennan, Danny Dichio and, starting second year, Tyrone Marshall all had a bit of fire in their belly and attitude to spare. Add Adrian Serioux to that list. I am totally ticked that Charlie Davies (the DC United striker #9) was able to taunt and dance right in front of the supporter section after his goal and no Toronto player responded. This is Charlies’ house now? Gosh and golly, I am convinced that Jim Brennan would have invented some new swear words on the spot, got into the DC United celebration scrum and earned himself a yellow just to make a statement. Toronto lacks statement makers. If you can’t make a statement in front of your own net, where are you going to find the inspiration to make a statement down the other end?
Here’s my statement: Score more goals, prevent more goals and care, really care. Last night was a cold and rainy one and you, the fan dressed for a session on a fishing trawler, went to the game feeling special. You knew that the casual fans would not be out. You knew you were making a statement, that the red and grey faithful TFC fan will brave the elements and fly the flag. The reward for our dedication was to watch Charlie Davies dance and laugh at us. Something is truly and deeply wrong with that. Davies may turn out to be the top goal scorer in MLS this year, he has that kind of talent, but no opposing player should be that comfortable in Toronto. Ever, ever, ever.
Alen Stevanovic is indicating to me that he has been loaned to Toronto because he is a fragile headcase. Every game he’s in he suffers a terrible injury and hobbles off. Then the next game he starts and is fresh as a daisy. Last night he spent the last 15 (20?) walking around injured on the field. He essentially took Toronto down to 9 players as Harden had been red carded. Coach Winter had already made his 3 substitutions and therefore Stevanovic walked around. Maybe I am bitter and twisted, but I had an angry reaction. I suggested that since he was borderline injured, hurting but still walking, a fellow Toronto player should foul him just to push him in “agony” off the field. I don’t believe he was seriously injured. MLS is a physical league Stevanovic. Show us you are not here for the health care.
I refuse to complain about Jacob Peterson. Sure, he lost Chris Pontius of DC United and was the goat on the first goal. Yet the fact of the matter is that Winter wants a lot of offensive creation and direction from his two backs and Peterson can supply it. He may not be the long term solution at that position, but he deserves another shot at it. I think Winter's triangle midfield makes Peterson the odd man out of the midfield. If Peterson can provide depth and support for forward, midfield and right back positions, you should be happy with versatility.
I have observed over the years youth soccer coaches who have no tactical sense whatsoever and simply pound away at positional play. The result is often a team of pylons, hard to find open space against when you attack them, but easy to thwart when they attack you. I am not happy that Toronto is showing signs of this robotic pylon play. In the first half Borman passed or attempted to pass to Stevanovic, his forward directly ahead of him on the wing, or passed it back to his fellow defenders. You never see a swirl or a shift or much work from the attacking players to get into space to create options for the left back. When Borman had the ball, Santos and Cordon (the two attacking options to the right from Borman’s point of view) did not seem to exist. Surprise and overlap, you zig and I will zag does not seem to be in our bag of tricks. Heck, what bag of tricks? Instead we were treated to an entire half of watching the back four pointlessly pass the ball amongst themselves or Stevanovic getting the ball and going nowhere with it. It was “The Attack of the Pylons” no surprises and easy to contain.
TFC did show some spark and comeback intent once Ty Harden was sent off, but I was just beyond annoyed that energy and urgency arrived an hour too late. Javier Martina supplied his usual high standard of play, but it takes a team.
Questions that burn….(but only because right now, everything burns)
How many changes to the starting 11 will be made for the Columbus game?
When the transfer window opens again in July, how much do want to bet that Toronto will sign both an attacking midfielder and a striker? They might not be both designated players, but attacking down the wings works best when your opposition is terrified of who you are playing down the middle.