Sunday, October 23, 2011

Season 2011 ends TFC 2 NE 2

Down we go to BMO Field for season closer number 5. It qualifies, before the first ball is kicked, as bittersweet. The win in Dallas on Tuesday night puts TFC past the group stage of the Champion’s League for the first time next spring. They showed that the team can rise to the occasion and win a big game on the road has to be sweetest point of the year. Slightly sweeter than the Voyageurs Cup win against Vancouver on July 2nd due to toughness of opponent and being away from BMO. The bitter is another meaningless, out of the playoffs by a long shot, home game. Today we face a New England squad that is the only team in the East below Toronto in the standings. Bittersweet is a nicer way of saying there is something schizo about this team. TFC 2011 edition closed with a home performance that was a bit of a mixed bag. I have been trying to figure out if the game could be described as the season as microcosm- but I am still unsure (the game had an equal amount of ups and downs, the season sure didn’t). Toronto looked silky smooth in scoring the first goal. Koevermans goes deep then angles it back to the perfectly trailing Soolsma and the ball is in the net in a flash. Then they lost their momentum and Julian DeGuzman lost his man on the first New England goal. When the visitors scored their second goal it seemed that Toronto was still mentally in the halftime dressing room. Iro did not put pressure on the ball and it looked like TFC was going to collapse. Credit to the team, driven forward by Frings and Koevermans, that they fought back and tied the game. Their was enough determination in the air that you could feel that victory was always the goal… I will save my summary of the team for a future post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Big effort in the big game Dallas 0 TFC 3

They did it. Toronto FC needed to win the game in Dallas to get through to the next round of Champion's League and they did it. Danny Koevermans scored the first half goal and Plata scored 2 in the second half. It shows that real progress has been made in this latter part of the season. They looked flat in August, but now they are in the quarter-finals. Plata was a star. Yet the entire team played a part, they looked like a team.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sometimes I have to go beyond TFC...Steve Jobs died today.

As modern folk, we live our lives in the world of design. The clothing, the car, the furniture, the food and the wine, the house, the suburb, the road, the mall, the way the light falls across your face as I take your picture... I know that we can still go for a walk in the woods and shake it all away, for a while. There are days when I joke about needing to scrape all this design away and go live in a cave for the winter... But when I am not joking, when I am sitting or staring out the window, or wishing I was more able to express myself or finding a way to understand the fragments of knowledge that explode around us or thinking about how to be a better person or figure out a wiser way to wade into the future, I have been using products that were designed by Steve Jobs. I am convinced that his products were more than just aids to me, they also inspired a little faith that great things were still possible and that change could be brilliant. I never met the man, but I think that his thinking played a role in my thinking more than any other thinker that has been on the planet in my lifetime. There are some who minimize him and describe him as a maker of gadgets. They have been the tools of my adult life, so much more the stuff of dreams than gadgets. If I live to see another innovator, designer, inventor that can match him, I will be a lucky man indeed. Steve Jobs 1955-2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

TFC 1 NYRB 1 Cold thoughts about Winter


It was a night to say goodbye to summery things. Weather wise we had been forced to don gloves and tuques, scarves and hoodies. Funny that around here we enter spring as hardy winter people- thrilled to see a ball on a green pitch and dressed for any weather. Six months later we encounter the first true fall night and we have been transformed into summer people, quietly wondering if we can take anything colder than this. The single digit temperatures we welcomed in April are the same temperatures that stun us in October. Sorry for a climate essay today. I write about the air to delay writing about what is happening on the ground.

New York did not look like a team in desperate need of victory (improving their playoff chances) during the first half. If Toronto proved in the end that they did not have an adequate grip on the game, NYRB sure seemed to be casual about taking hold of it. Kocic had made some top quality saves throughout the game, but Red Bulls were hardly bullish. Perhaps they were confident that Toronto would crack in the end. I suspect that Thierry Henry put more effort into gesturing and taunting the Toronto fans after his goal than he did in his play all night. I am less annoyed at Henry antics than I am at TFC’s lack of reaction. It is not the first time this year that I have wondered where Jim Brennan is. Henry seemed to be posing and posturing for the North Stand fans. Somebody please get in his face. The lack of passion about home turf (or standing up for home fans) amongst TFC players is worrying.

Protecting a late 1-0 lead, Winter chose to pack the back and had 6 defenders on the back line. It was an odd approach because it seemed that TFC still had 3 forwards (Soolsma, Bormann and Avila). At a time when it would be wise to hold the ball and kill time, Toronto either could not or would not do it. Winter’s TFC never seems to own the midfield.
I remain unconvinced that a 4-3-3 formation will work in the MLS and I am even more convinced that this squad does not have the skills needed to make it work. TFC always seemed isolated and outnumbered when it comes to finding avenues of attack. They are a team that rarely plays the overlap, too rarely have a player coming into surprise attack. I think that is due to the formation. They are switching the point of attack regularly, but then they have no other option. There is always a wide player available for a pass, but then the defenders shift, there are no options for the guy with the ball and on it goes. Attacking from the wings is a great tactic, but not when it is the only tactic.

One more home game left. I am afraid that what comes after that is a winter off-season thinking about Winter and the direction that this team needs to go in. TFC asks the fan to have faith, that work with the Academy will produce more Ashtons, Stinsons and Henrys. What if all that means is another wave of solid players capable of playing, passing and defending (but never, ever, ever scoring)? We can hope Toronto’s winter will see some changes in the roster. I see the same problem as this time last year, too many players who never or rarely score. When you add up a handful of attackers, it works with Avila-1, Dunfield-0, Soolsma-2, Yourasskowsky-0, Martina-2, and throw in Eckersley-0 and Morgan-0, and you have less TFC 2011 goals than Maicon Santos-6!

So we say goodbye to summery things. Too bad that means storage and hibernation. I want Winter to start a fire. I hope he is just saving his logs for Dallas.