I wonder if when you have fallen into a hole that the first stage of your rescue just reminds you how far down you are or can the euphoria of moving up be enough to forget the depths? TFC is still down, close to the bottom of a hole, but Saturday saw the first sign of rescue. The rope up may be in their hands, yet doubts remain about the strength of the rescued, the strategy of the rescuers and the quality of the rope.
It was great to see Toronto score. I celebrated the victory and felt the sigh of relief flow from the crowd. Still, I am left thinking what a mess. TFC managed to score one goal against a team that had little going for it. Philly had a screaming shot hit the crossbar in the second half that would have turned the game had it gone in. Philly was playing their third string goalkeeper, Chris Konopka, thanks to a rash of injuries. He almost held them off as Toronto scored in the 88th minute. The June schedule ahead offers an international break followed by away games at KC, Houston and Montreal, home games against New England and New York. Based on this struggle against Philadelphia Union, I don’t see many points in June. Away to Montreal and home to New England will be the best chances. TFC ends May with three points in the standings. It is sad to speculate where they will be a month from now.
What else has changed? TFC still has a plan of attack that results in Plata with the ball at his feet, wide with no passing options and a wall of defenders to beat. In the first half we saw it over and over and over again. I might spend all of the Winter years squawking about the 4-3-3, but Plata solo is not producing much beyond pain. It seems that with young Plata, less would be more. I think he needs to be used as a late game substitute more often. I suspect that the scouting report for most MLS teams tells them to wear Plata down physically, his getting knocked around seems to be the defensive scheme used on the Ecuadorian winger team after team.
Frings was solid, but I thought he tired in the second half. Is it possible that he is struggling with his shoulder? In the late going he went forward. It looks ugly when TFC hammers at the door. A better opponent would have exploited the space left open.
Silva’s play in the midfield was of little note. Perhaps it is the defensive nature of his midfield partners or the spread formation of his forward options, but when he has the ball he seems to lack an awareness of where his teammates are.
The best thing to say about deGuzman was that he smothered Freddy Adu for Philly. Oh how sad. This is what Toronto gets for the 5th highest paid player in MLS. JdG’s ability to have potential shots on target turn into weather balloons has been a steady part of his TFC career.
Eckersley provided a spark and he worked well with Jeremy Hall playing midfield ahead of him. Cann and Henry continue to work as a central pairing, although they seemed to have a game where there was little pressure on them when they had the ball. Was this a shift in TFC tactics or a Philly mistake?
Weeks will go by before the next game at BMO (June 23). I somehow doubt we will see the same roster then. I know it will take some fancy footwork on a team with three DPs, but the transfer window nears. I am still thinking that Ryan Johnson may be trade bait. He has worked hard and had some bad luck around the net. We shall see.