Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toronto shows some fight and pride - TFC 1 Pumas 1

It was another beautiful September night at BMO Field Tuesday evening. As a fan, I got much more than I bargained for. The team showed some spine and some sparkle against a Mexican team that had ripped them to shreds in the first half of their south of the border (x2) game in the CONCACAF Champion's League. When you are bracing yourself for a thrashing, 1-1 with a lot of positive play is a pleasant surprise Going in we knew that Torsten Frings was not playing because of yellow card accumulation. If your crystal ball had let you know that Danny Koeverman would be subbed at half time (injury?) and that Richard Eckersley would have to leave the field due to injury, you would have been preparing for whatever lies beyond a thrashing. A waterboarding? Just as a bounce back from the dreadful night in Los Angeles against Chivas USA, tonight was a positive step. Just in time for the town hall meetings too. Julian de Guzman may have played his best game in a TFC uniform since his performance against Cruz Azul in the summer of 2010. He seems to clog and disrupt the midfield attack of visiting Mexican teams much more than he ever shows against MLS teams. He is still a pain in the passing department and shows a reluctance to go forward in a creative manner. TFC will never draw a foul if it was left up to de Guzman... Surprisingly strong contributions from Doneil Henry and Matt Gold. Henry threw himself into quite a few challenges with smart energy. Martina came on for Soolsma, but neither ever seemed to be a danger to Pumas' goal. Andy Iro continues to be an adventure all on his own. He deflected a shot that hit the Toronto post in the largest scare in the late minutes of play. Harden was a solid contributor. Ashtone Morgan was also active all night. If Plata and Eckersley are the top newcomers to the team, Morgan has to be their Canadian equal.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Skunks are skunked in LA Chivas 3 TFC 0

I am thinking that TFC’s lack of a true nickname is a reflection of their lack of success over the years. Dan Dunleavy (announcing the game on GOLTV) was smart not to refer to Toronto as the “Reds” when playing against a team wearing red. It made me think that “Reds” will never take hold, it is just a place holder until something inspired comes along. If you were to name the team based on their characteristics in the first five years what would you have? Playoff missers, revolving doors, underachievers, sinking ships are the phrases that come to mind. If Chivas are the goats, could Toronto become the skunks?

Toronto FC in Los Angeles Saturday night showed very little in the way of entertainment or inspiration. The team may have been physically close to Hollywood, yet they instead displayed the glitz and glamour of Collingwood. No, that is unfair to Collingwood. They might have had a slim glimmer of a playoff chance going into LA, but losing has shut the 2011 playoff door for good.

JP Angel scored a first half goal that showed off his talent for creating a goal out of any half decent chance. Iro one on one against Angel was clearly only a matter of time. The Chivas second half goal was a matter of Toronto relaxing enough in their own gpal area to allow Chivas to find a way through the cracks. Morgan should have marked tighter, Frei could be second guessed for staying on his line, should have been better pressure on the player who crossed the ball to Braun(who scored) and Andy Iro was caught adrift. Then Angel scored again and buried Toronto. That phrase gives the impression that TFC were above ground up until that point.

The town hall meetings loom this week. The Saturday night loss will contribute to a sense of gloom amongst the fans who attend the meetings. I am not hopeful that the Tuesday night CONCACAF game against Pumas will lift the spirits of we long suffering Skunk fans.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A win over Tauro and a memorable evening by the lake

Game notes later - atmosphere at BMO first... The weather helped to set the scene last night at BMO Field, it was a perfect Toronto in September evening. The wind never picked up off of the lake, the sky was clear and the temperature was somewhere between balmy and cool. As the sun was setting, I had made sure to pack a hoodie and a fleece vest, yet they were never needed. We were in our seats 30 minutes before game time and the sparse crowd in our section (220) was a surprise. More than half the people that entered the section, looking intently at their tickets, turned out to be lost and were actually seeking 120. The sole usher in our area was very good at sensing the hesitating folks , interceding and sending them on their way. Trout, my sidekick supreme, observed that long ago when we first signed up for Toronto FC, attendance such as last night had to be what we were expecting as the norm, not packed to the gills sell-outs. The stadium, or our corner of it, works so much better with a handful of people in it. There was no worry with a constant stream of people heading to the concourse and obscuring our view of the field. Those who are there, truly want to be watch a game. A quick break for a snack or the men's room is truly a quick break, not a huge trek. Red Patch Boys and the U-Sector must know that these nights were made for them. They must be able to snap up the extra tickets that the season ticket holders drop and bring out more of their members. They brought their "A" game last night with flags, a huge banner, constant singing and a good, rough time for the other team and the ref. I know that next week will bring Pumas north to face TFC and they could be the toughest team faced all year. Yet I want to be there, I expect another great night regardless of the score. On to the game. There was little danger from the Panamanian team Tauro FC, but also little potency from TFC for much of the first half. Johnson and Morgan down the left side, Eckersley and Soosma down the left, but not much through the middle would describe the attack. Peri Marosevic did not have a strong night. He showed flashes of his speed, but seemed to be fighting the ball. DeGuzman, Dunfield and Yourasskowsky all played, but we still watch a team with a hole in the middle of the field. It is from this hole that Pumas, next week, rips our defenders to shreds. Koevermans scored the opportunist goal that gave TFC the victory. I think that he has been a quality signing and has the potential to be a top scorer for years to come. I think that he is a wily player and needs a consistent central attacking threat from those around him to find his chances. I am not sure that this roster can supply that style of attack. Terry Vaughn, the ref, was the most entertaining individual on the field for the second half. I have seen refs buy the dives more than Vaughn did last night, but he was in danger of losing the plot last night. I would love to see the foul/yellow card on Stinson in the final minute of the game. It seemed on the screen replay that Stinson had a clear path to the ball, dove out and cleared the ball and the Tauro player fell over Stinson's outstretched leg after Stinson had already made the play. How that was either a foul or a yellow needs to be explained... I promise another blog post with my thoughts on the roster. Next game - late Saturday night in LA vs Chivas

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lost faith, lost zeal, weak comeback promised

Yes, I have faltered in the blogging TFC world in recent weeks. I was so discouraged by the August home game against San Jose that I stopped thinking and writing TFC for weeks. I had relatives in town, my beloved uncle from Los Angeles. He has been a soccer fan since his childhood back in England. We talk soccer all the time on the phone and get together annually - usually to watch the big games. I had so looked forward to taking him to a TFC match. Show him BMO Field and make a big day of it. The team looked limp. The crowd has lost zip and energy. Yet another year where the playoffs are not going to happen and the team is in flux. I don't blame the crowd for losing zip. It was not a memorable event, it was a downer of huge proportions. This meant that I wrote nothing about the victory in Columbus which gave Toronto the Trillium Cup for the first time and was the first ever TFC victory in Columbus. Some years that win would have sent me dancing (well, hopping), but this year it was worthy of a weak smile. I wrote nothing about the 4-0 loss in Mexico against Pumas. A horrible showing. No wonder I had only a weak smile after the Columbus game. I must have sensed that it is a fragile sense of progress that is being built. I wrote nothing about the trade deadline deal that sent Robinson (a defender picked up from Chicago on the Dan Gargan exchange) to LA Galaxy for a young central defender Kyle Davies. TFC needs defenders. So tonight the Champions League game against Tauro beckons. Next week is a town hall meeting - I just don't know why I feel so down on the team. They sent me a book. I promise to bring it to the town hall - otherwise I don't know what to do with it.