I guess that an event such as Philadelphia Union coming to Toronto in their second year and scoring a record number of goals against TFC was not a complete shock today. The question that was bouncing around my head on the way home today was a simple one, will TFC get worse before they get better? If you judge the TFC future by the post-game conference with Coach Winter saying these are not my players, my players will start arriving throughout June, you have to lean towards getting worse before it gets better.
There was little new on display for the Toronto FC fan at BMO Field today, just the bad things that we have come to expect arrived in much heavier doses and in surprising combinations. Sloppy defending and poor marking were combined with a new element, the off day of Stefan Frei. The usual inability to move the ball forward through the middle of the field was combined with a swarming Philly team that knew how to press and wait for the inevitable bad passes from the defenders. At least that was the first half tactic for Philly, the second half it was just swoop in on the rare counter-attack and have all the freedom and space you needed to score.
I know I am going to sound like a broken record - I just don't think that the TFC with Dichio, Brennan, Tyrone Marshall and Adrian Serioux on the field (just sampling from the year gone by) would have folded like a cheap suit as we saw today.
Coach Winter gets credit for taking JDG off for the second half, it was a brilliant, overdue move. JDG has been sold to Toronto fans as a skilled holding midfielder. I think the only "holding" I saw was the Philly players holding each other after scoring. I think that JDG has to go, no offense, no defense and no leadership.
I have some patience and understanding for Winter and Mariner. They took over TFC in the MLS off-season, which is the on season for many of the leagues where you would be looking for talent around the globe. So the internationals that TFC have are loans, such as Eckersley and Stevanovic and players who were without a club such as Martina, Soolsma and Yourasskowsky. In other words, if they found some gems amongst the slim pickings, give them some credit for bucking the odds.
The month of June will be interesting because there has to be some players coming out of contract that would be of interest to TFC. Winter was talking about those players in the post game conference today.
Player acquisition will involve some complicated timing. I am not sure about the dates concerning trades within the MLS, but it sure seems that TFC is looking beyond trades. As I understand it, the MLS player agreement says that if you are on a roster on July 1 you will be paid for the year. So if you are going to release a player you would do it in June. I think that players who arrive after July 1 get to count as only half season players for salary cap purposes. It would be funny if the Toronto team that plays Vancouver in late June gets an overhaul before playing Vancouver on July 2nd.
I remain unsold on Winter's 4-3-3 philosophy. I am willing to wait for changes in player talent as Winter should not be judged on a work in progress. I think he has to look at the spirit on the team, the cheap suit folding feeling is not the foundation for success no matter who you plan to bring in.