Friday, December 13, 2013

Tim Bez continues TFC - summary of the week

GM Tim Bez introduces Gilberto

Wow. It is has been a week of frenzied activity in TFC land. I blogged about the trade for Jackson, but then thought it best to let the week roll by and then sum it up at the end. Then TFC introduced their new Designated Player Gilberto at a Friday afternoon press conference making my lazy plan look smart.

Gilberto is 24. He is Brazilian and is a striker. He appears to have scoring abilities and potential. So many of TFC's problems in 2013 were due to lack of scoring. Gilberto is expected to be the second fiddle striker. The first fiddle is still to be revealed.

I have forgotten the order of things, so here goes.

-TFC trade Stefan Frei to Seattle for a 2015 draft pick. No fan liked the move, but I give credit to the new GM that he was classy in his statement.

“Parting with a player of Stefan’s caliber and character is always difficult, but as we move forward with our re-shaping of the Club, it is important that we have increased flexibility to make additional moves. This trade provides us with that flexibility,” said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Stefan is a great player and an even better person who will always hold a special place in the Club’s history. We wish him all the best as he moves on to the next stage of his career.”

-TFC traded with Dallas for midfielder Jackson. A young Brazilian player with a few years in the MLS. Hope he makes friends with Gilberto. Hope he is able to improve his goals to cards ratio.

-TFC traded away Bobby Convey to New York. TFC gets a better pick in the college draft next month as a result of this.

The first round of the re-entry draft went by this week and TFC did not make a selection. The first round is the one where a team would have to honour the existing contract. Next week round two arrives and that one allows you flexibility in contracts. Nana Attakora is available from San Jose. I wonder if he gets a chance at redemption?

Stay tuned for developing roster news. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

TFC trades for Jackson

Not the first Jackson around here

TFC might have gained their first official new player for 2014 today in a trade for Jackson, a midfielder from Dallas.
I am not yet dancing in the streets. Didn't TFC trade for a Brazilian midfielder with KC last winter? An Oscar who never played a minute for Toronto? Here's hoping Jackson contributes more than that. Today was the first day for MLS trades following the Cup. TFC wasted no time.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Time to put a cork in it TFC 1 Montreal 0

Pitch in shadow, sunshine on east stand and downtown and a darkness over Scarborough...

TFC, 2013 vintage, ended production today. It was a victory over Montreal and it could be spun many ways. A good omen or just the curtain drop on a long lost season are the first to spring to mind. 2013 home games began with a victory and ended  just the same. Now if only the
intervening games could be worked on.

I am torn between offering limited praise for TFC or dishing scorn aplenty for Montreal sans Impact. For a playoff bound team with the gift of facing the second worst team in the MLS for their final game, they lacked all conviction. I would rate most the first half in TFC's favour. TFC had their goal but were also going forward with determination and seldom seemed to be rattled on the defending side.

Then the second half began with oodles of TFC attack. The first 10 to 15 minutes should have produced a bevy of Toronto goals to put the game away. The lack of killer instinct has been demonstrated bythe red and grey all season. The tide began to turn though and TFC tried to go into a shell. A few times it seemed that those Montreal shots were going to finally find the target. We have been down that road just a dozen times to many this year.  

Joe Bendik as man of the match was made a sure bet by his victory saving stop, one on one with a blue shirt on his doorstep. If this had been abasketball game we would have heard Jack Armstrong yell ' get thatgarbage out of here" alongside Bendik's resounding stop.

I think that all playoff teams are crossing their fingers and hoping to draw Montreal as their opponent. If they are a team peaking at the right time, they did one hell of a job of disguising it today. They also seemed all to eager to bend the ref's ear on almost every call. The ref was pretty rough, not sure what he saw on a lot of calls.

So beyond Bendik, Caldwell and Henry were steady in the back. Bloom and Morgan were medium strength, some overlaps and crosses in the attack, seldom caught out of position on d. Up front the combination of Earnshaw and Dike was not golden from moment one. Anticipation and understanding were lacking and both of them stuck mostly to solo efforts. The fact that the only TFCgoal was the sly re-direction of an Osorio shot by Earnshaw might be an indication that Dike/Earnshaw needs a lot of work. On the topic of strikers a special salute has to go to Justin Braun. When Nelson opted for a late game formation of 5-4-1, putting Agbossoumonde in
the back and Braun as the sole striker, it seemed that it was bunker time. Braun was superb however, in motion smartly, breaking into space,creating breaks and drawing fouls from a desperate Impact back four.
Saving my concern for last, time to talk TFC midfield. Convey had a better first half than second. Convey could have put one away in the late going, but instead crossed into puzzling space behind the others. Rey was the most consistent contributor, which is probably why he was getting fouled all over the place. Osorio and Bekker in the central midfield were ok defensively, but there was a lack of spark and sizzle when going forward. In the second half they had too many lulls where they seem to take whatever “spin your wheels and go nowhere” pass the opponent gives them. They do not exploit space and create chances for others and they do not draw fouls. Little lateral passes and feeding the wings gets very predictable and stays very tame. Perhaps Osorio is a winger after all, he was lively in the late going when shifted to the wing (Jeremy Hall came into the middle).

So now the offseason kicks in. Months of rumour, speculation and even actual developments. I was asking myself on a philosophical level what is the difference between the season and the off-season?
During the season our suffering is connected to a schedule of home and away games. Thank you, thank you, I am here all week, tip your waitress and try the roast beast.

No, no, that is no way to end the blog. 
The toques are great. It was bittersweet to watch Stefan Frei spending time with the fans after the game. The weather was a surprise, it could have been much worse. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Falling apart or coming together? Chicago Fire 1 TFC 0

A good game from TFC's back-up keeper.

A sense of duty brought me to the tube this evening. Chicago was hosting TFC in their last road game of the season. Chicago came into the game in the midst of a playoff battle.  I don't think Toronto has been in a playoff battle since the infamous game at Giants Stadium in 09?

The Toronto starting 11 had a few names of interest. It was great to see Stefan Frei back in net. My intense dislike of the MLS salary cap is the reason that Frei might be in his last days in a TFC uniform. Well, I mean the salary cap is the reason and I dislike it, the cap and using it as a reason to ship out good players. The MLS needs a Larry Bird rule. That is the NBA rule that allows teams to resign veteran players without regard to the salary cap.
Earnshaw and Dike as a striker pairing has been games in coming. The midfielders were Lambe, Bekker, Osorio and Rey. The back four  were Bloom, Caldwell, Henry and Morgan.

Chicago did not put on much of a show. The Fire were playing more as a frustrated team than a team rising to the playoff challenge. TFC were able to defend, but were not getting anything creative. Osorio had an off night. He had moments of hesitation and poor vision when on the ball. I suppose Bekker was playing more of a holding role, but his touch on the ball was consistently rocky.

It was anybody's game and then the ref blew a call and gave the only goal to Chicago in giftwrap. Osorio was the cause of a penalty shot scored by Magee, but it had to be a clear case of ball to hand.

Toronto's midfield looked terrible in the second half, apart from Rey. Coach Nelsen subs off the strikers, but it was the midfield in need of an attitude adjustment. Sorry, but putting on Weideman and Braun is just throwing in the towel.
I think it is fair to say that TFC looks solid in the back and hopeless on the attack. When the passing was inept and the strikers were statues and double covered, I was dreading 2014. TFC is a long way from cohesion. Yet, watching Chicago I was thinking "this is a playoff team?" There did not seem to be a large gap between the teams. The gift penalty call was their margin of victory

So I say farewell to watching TFC games on tv for the 2013 season. One last home game next Saturday against Montreal. See you then.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Blogger disgruntled and disqualified from the breakfast club

Apologies for taking so long to post. These thoughts have been percolating in the head for days and days. I hope they have grown clearer in the process.

I attended the President’s breakfast event on Saturday morning September 28th and I came away from it dismayed, dejected and defeated.  There was a lot of talk, a fair amount of smoke and mirrors, however the fans in attendance were asking questions that presented a scattered point of view. The number one issue, to my mind, was always put to the side.

The number one issue in my mind is the MLS salary cap. It continues to be discussed by TFC leaders and fans alike as if it came down from the mountain on a tablet with Moses. I know the cautionary tale of the NASL, heck I am old enough to have attended Blizzard games at both Varsity and CNE. When will the stability of MLS mean that team revenue determines salaries not an artificial number designed for other markets? I think that the answer to that question in the case of Toronto is now.
The salary cap is the biggest enemy that TFC faces. The time has come for fans and TFC to work against it all day, every day. I shake my head every time we hear that a TFC player, who makes far, far less than the 15th player on the Raptor roster or the 20th player on the Leaf roster, has too expensive a contract to continue playing in Toronto. What is the revenue for TFC? By sticking to this salary cap, what percentage of the revenue is going to player’s salaries? When Tim L says that the MLSE board has given permission for him to spend millions on 2 stars designated players, where is that money coming from? Is it a gamble or is it a reflection that by underpaying 26 players on the roster MLSE can easily afford to overpay 2?  What percentage of TFC revenue is going to pay the salaries of R Nelsen, Tim B and Tim L?  Why do we fans attend a free breakfast and never talk about team finances? Being a TFC fan should not equal being a financial fool.

The critical fact for Toronto footy fans is our passion for the global game. We say we want a TFC that makes the playoffs, but I suspect that we want far more glory than that. We want a team that establishes soccer as a premium sport in Ontario. We want to be part of the turnaround that rescues Canada as a force in national team competitions. We want to be both a source and a destination for great players of the beautiful game.

The Toronto soccer fan (and this is the brilliance of the TFC slogan “All for One”) almost always has ties to teams elsewhere through heritage and family. We know that famous teams have astronomical budgets. Nobody nickels and dimes their way to football glory in the modern age.

The breakfast was my first time in the same room as Ryan Nelsen, Tim Bezbatchenko and Tim Leiweke. I think that whether Kevin Payne was the right guy to be President of TFC, at least TFC had a president. I am doubtful that Tim L. is the right guy to be president, especially with his “buy big names” approach. I also think that sharing a leader with a hockey team and a basketball team is going to be a huge problem.
Tim B. as the GM is a horrible choice. He seems to be a spreadsheet fantasy sports geek whose sole claim to the job is that he will know what all the other teams are spending. Why hire a bean counter to run this team, a wonk from head office? This is not the firebrand revolutionary who is going to campaign against the salary cap all day, every day. Tim B. will be the GM who tells player “A” he is asking for too much money because the Columbus Crew’s player “A” makes 20 grand less than that. It looks like the nickel and dime road to glory when we need a builder, a leader of experience and vision.  When you are hiring (coaches and scouts), drafting, trading, communicating and even inspiring, a spreadsheet is not going to help. Tim L. said that Tim B. wrote a report outlining all the TFC mistakes. Big deal, I have been writing a blog for seven years about those same mistakes. That didn’t make me a candidate for the job. Hindsight is not the same as vision.

Which leaves Ryan Nelsen. He arrived as an unconventional surprise choice as TFC head coach. I think that some fans hoped that choosing him would turn out to be the secret formula for success. The 2013 season has taken most of the air out of that notion. The fans see a very slow learning curve in terms of tactics, player selection and substitutions. It seems that the departure of Payne gives Nelsen a chance to fashion the team his way (as long as it corresponds to the Tim L vision). You hope he has the formula, but fear that he has just been given the chance to write his own ticket out of town.

Remember, the salary cap, without a relationship to team revenue, must go in order for TFC (and some of MLS) to take the next step towards “big league” status. Now repeat that all day, every day.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Beyond surprise Union 1 TFC 0

Why, why, why, why?

Why do they look like they are competing, in the battle and then the inevitable fold in the end?

Why have subs if they are unable to add something to the team. I wanted to see Earnshaw added to Dike.

Facing 10 men, TFC looked like the team playing short. The inability to score is embarrassing.

TFC 2013 will soon be over. One more road game in Chicago, one more home game against Montreal.

I think that the limit for torture and misery was reached on Canada Day.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September Sunshine TFC 4 DC United 1

So the penultimate TFC home game of the season brings us the battle of the bad, the tussle of the basement dwellers. It's TFC vs DC on a glorious Saturday afternoon.
We walked to the stadium just enjoying the day. An unexpected shortcut through Fort York because of an event there was a bonus. I had very low expectations for the game. I think the Saturday morning President's breakfast had created a personal TFC hangover. That is as far as I go here, look for a following post to see what I think of breakfast with President Tim L.

So into the stadium we march, banishing those memories of the soggy bottom boys of last week. The crowd seemed thin at anthem time. Perhaps the long line up at the TFC clothing shops had something to do with that (75% off!).

Starting 11

Bloom     Boss     Henry     Morgan
Rey         Russell   Hall      Convey
       Dike   Wiedeman

I had some worries about the pair of Boss and Henry in the back. Caldwell misses the game from that red card. Bloom for Eckersley is a continuing trend.
Jim Brennan as coach (because of suspensions to Nelsen and O'Leary)

TFC started with their usual rust. Individual efforts look good, but the linkage, the cohesion and playing as a team just is not there. Good thing DC is no better.

Until DC takes the lead from a curling shot from distance. Jeffreys the scorer at 15 minutes. This woke up TFC and Darel Russell scored an exciting goal on a turnaround at 25 minutes.
So they are tied at the half. I did not see either team as having the offensive skill to the draw in the second half. I have learned to fear the TFC defensive lapse, but the offensive burst surprised me. TFC playing with spark and dazzle?
Wiedeman was instrumental in the go ahead goal despite being tackled and grabbed with a version of a wrestling hold. The ref saw the foul but played advantage as Bloom had taken the ball and crossed it so that Dike could bury it.
Rey then added his two goals. Rey had a touch of luck with his first one as it caroomed off a defender. Rey showed some moves and sense of calm with his second one, a couple shifts left to elude and then a shot in the far corner.
So a delightful day down by the lake. A rare treat in this plodding, heart wrenching season. Is this the turning of the corner so wished for or just taking advantage of the team that lies beneath us in the standings?
Stay tuned for my breakfast report.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Soggy Bottom Boys nickname for wet fans, too bad the team just got soggy TFC 1 KC 2

Either the designated player search squad or the designated players themselves???

Ahhhh, dry socks. When it is time to kick back and write my blog post, I am usually relaxing with a beverage. A cocktail perhaps, or a fine local brew. Today I am casting all liquids aside and savouring the pleasure which is a pair of dry, thick socks securely placed upon one's feet.
Could dry socks be the best moment of the day? Am I going to place the hard work and growing cohesion of the mighty, mighty TFC in second place in the days rankings of fine things? Hold off on that ranking sentence and let's go back to the contest.

It was an adventure to be amongst the few fans who were scattered here and there at BMO today. I like the feeling of dedication, that you are truly one of the gallantly crazy who braved the wet elements to soak it all in. No bandwagons in our driveways should be the slogan of all Soggy Bottom Boys. Everyone in attendance today is made a Soggy Bottom Boy regardless of gender. TFC fans singing "Fans of Constant Sorrow" seems as right as rain.

Before I banter about the game and the players, an editorial comment to preface the analysis. The ref today was criminal. Particularly in the second half when KC was given the green light to foul Bobby Convey whenever they felt the need. Then the ref showed red to Caldwell. My angle was bad. You knew what was developing, yet from 220 we could not see Caldwell's feet nor the ball. So it is not on the merit's of the actual foul that I call it a crap call, rather it is the context of a host of no calls in favour of KC and the KC tendency to go down upon the full impact of a raindrop.
Which inspires my full marks for Coach Nelsen on his being tossed from the game. Too bad it was in front of the sparsest crowd in memory, but it sent the right signal to fans and players alike. Best move of the year.

TFC did an excellent job of highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses today. Keeping and defending were mostly solid (except for the lightning strikes that were KC's goals), the midfield was a surprise considering the loss of both Osorio and Laba. TFC has nothing dependable or creative or startling up front. Bright Dike showed some energy, but tired in the second half. Fellow forwards Braun and Wiedeman fared no better, no worse than other games. When your scoring is soggy, there is little compensation from other aspects of your game.
So in the end, dry socks win as the peak of the day. Darel Russell's goal might have competed for a while, but dry socks compensate for an afternoon of soggy bottoms. Fingers are crossed that a healthy Danny K can bounce back from injury and both play and score at BMO before 2013 fades from view.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Still only happy when it rains TFC 1 Fire 1


Toronto FC struggled against a Chicago Fire team that looked less than fiery. TFC have now drawn at home 8 times in 2013.  If somehow TFC had found a ten a season goal scorer who only scored at home, 2013 could have been a playoff team. Put that on the Christmas list. What a ten goals a season player or a playoff team? Try both.


David Miller and a cast of thousands have decided to stay away from the remaining games (more on this later).

The rain stayed away and the thunderstorm waited until after the game.

Rey looks a better winger than Lambe.

The back four looked strong and cohesive.

Earnshaw's goal.

Late sub on of Dike was interesting.

Salute to Armed Forces (though it could have been toned down and that anthem fellow needs to go)


Bendik's goof on the only goal against.

Earnshaw's injury.

Ecks and Morgan's inability to make offensive inroads.

Braun's lack of finish and general lack.

Nelsen's hesitation when it's time for subs.

Half-time or all the time Rachel - the next lyric contest had our attention, but having adults kick little balls into little nets was a touch demeaning.

TFC Road, the street under permanent construction?

TFC fandom has always been a hard road to travel. Recent weeks have continued that bleak tradition. Every day I think I have some comment worth sharing. Every day a new event seems to arrive to shake your confidence and makes you rethink blogging.

So here is my attempt at describing where we have been and opinions I have arrived at.

- I think that enough criticism was aimed at Kevin Payne that I slowly came to the view that he was not the right person to be president of TFC. His firing was a surprise at first. Payne might have been caught bullshitting too many times, did not seem to have enough soccer sense and promised changes that he seemed unable to deliver. There has been little consideration from MLSE and boss Tim on how fans who felt some loyalty to Payne's leadership could be expected to jump onto the "win with Tim" bandwagon. I still feel that having a TFC president is a good thing. The suggestion that the next GM will not be a president type, but a number crunching capologist who defers to Tim when it is Designated Player signing time, seems a recipe for disaster.

- I am not convinced at all that Tim Leiweke is the leader that TFC needs. I think that to lead TFC you have to be a bit of a dreamer, you have to be willing to swim against the tide and want to establish soccer as a big time sport in a market that has neglected it for some time. I am not thrilled with the LA Galaxy story. I spend time in Los Angeles almost every year. LA this summer is in love with the Dodgers. Leiweke may have been part of signing Beckham and hiring Arena, but soccer is still an afterthought in LA.
Face it, if Tim Leiweke provides MLSE with Stanley Cup wins, NBA Finals appearances and lands Toronto with an NFL franchise, do you think he would be fired for mishandling TFC? I don't think I am the only TFC fan who dreams of some billionaire buying TFC from MLSE.

- Trading Urutti for Dike. Another shocker, made me shake my head at all the time I spent this summer following rumours and searching for clues in the TFC search for international talent. I think the trading deadline is at some point on Friday. I am prepared.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Kevin Payne fired??

I am shocked by this news (should call it information - not yet confirmed). I suppose that your credentials as an observer of all things TFC would rely upon not being shocked by departures or changes or surprises. I did not see Kevin Payne being removed from running TFC after only months on the job.

He did some good things and he messed up a few times. I was determined to have faith in his leadership and that involved giving his coach time to grow into the job. I never met the man, but his media talks were interesting. He may not have seemed a jovial sort, but you wanted a "take charge" person in charge of pointing TFC in the right direction.

It is now very clear that Tim Leiweke is calling the shots. Correction, we knew who was calling the shots, did not know that he was ready to fire those shots.  I just don't know what that truly means and I don't have a spare bucket of faith sitting around right now. When I attended the town hall meeting in 2012 Paul Mariner was talking about the team for the next year. By the time I attend town hall 2013 Kevin Payne will have arrived and departed.

The turbulence, which when combined with losing are the only aspects of TFC culture that have been constant, continues ....

Friday, August 30, 2013

CNE soggy TFC 1 NE Revs 1

What am I doing here? It is the Friday night of the last long weekend of the summer and I am sitting in the rain watching the carnival lights beyond the soccer stadium. 
This puzzled state of mind is only enhanced when within the first minutes of the game Toronto allows New England to score. If this is going to be the football on offer, I will be in the Food Building by half-time.

To TFC's credit, they managed to calm the waters, shut the door and New England never looked as potent again all night.

Toronto wasted many a free kick and cross, but managed to score a goal from a goal mouth scramble to head into half-time with the score tied.

I was better off at the game than at the Food Building. Later I learned to avoid the Roast Beef on Weck. The picture looked great, the product was beef slices thrown onto a hamburger bun. I should sue and defend the reputation of a Buffalo delicacy.

Being of baby boomer vintage, I am able to remember when the CNE was a big deal in this province. It is looking more than a little shabby, to the point where I think the added value of CNE entrance is possibly the smallest value of the season. That is a harsh evaluation when you consider the gloom and suffering that TFC 2013 has been.

Back to the game. There were glimmers of creative play and a sense that they are becoming a team more aware of each other. Convey had a good game, it was fun watching Henry manhandle Revs, Laba was missed, Caldwell showed some bursts of surprising speed and skill on the ball and Weiderman scored the goal.

New England played the game in a state of constant whine. They were at the ref on every call. I do find them a team hard to like.

Now there was a twist in the tale, late in the game. Rather than the old goal against, TFC scored one from a corner, but had it disallowed. It must have been a foul called off the ball. I did not see it. 

So it ended a draw, grabbed from the jaws of victory. Next home game is Montreal on September 11. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Season sinking TFC 1 Seattle 2

August has a "time's up" quality to it in Ontario. You grab your summer moments while you can, knowing that fall is brief and winter's long.

Last night TFC had an "August" performance, perhaps a sense of doing what they could before the inevitable changes hit. Of course, doing what they could involved coming up second best in a lot of departments.

If you based your view of the game on the highlights, you might think that it all hinged on a simple fact. When TFC needed a second goal, Earnshaw hit the post. Earlier, when Seattle needed a second goal TFC knocked it in for them.

Although that was true, the differences went beyond that own goal and post. Seattle were in a comfort zone that Toronto has not experienced all year. The visitors were fluid and economical, very aware of each other to an extent that TFC can only envy. There were too many times when Toronto's attack is either singular or looks like a group of strangers trying to combine into some cohesion.
You had to worry even more when Clint Dempsey came on as a late first half sub. He might not even know the names of half his teammates yet. Despite that he had quality moves and created shots out of little space. He will only get better as he meshes with his new team.

The TFC subs were the expected upgrades, Earnshaw for Weideman, Rey for Lambe. Instead of following that pattern with Elmer for Morgan, the last sub of Braun on for Eckersley was a bit of a head-scratcher. Perhaps TFC is showcasing Braun for a trade because the Payne promised two signings involve a striker?

I felt that Laba had an off night defensively. The silky smooth approach of Seattle forced Laba to chase the ball too often. You do forget that he is facing teams for the first time.

Osorio was chosen as Man of the Match, which was fair enough, but I thought he struggled too. Seattle seemed to be able to pin him back when attacking and then clog the middle when he tried to go forward.
Now 11 games to play and 10 of those against Eastern teams. I am hoping that signings and trades bring in some new faces. Last night's team seems to have maxed out their potential.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

TFC wins! TFC wins! NE Revs 0 TFC 1

As the ol' blues song goes "been down so long, it looks like up to me". You accept winning ugly more readily when your TFC has suffered so many times in games of this ilk. The comeback against Columbus last weekend started something. Protecting a lead in New England was a more important challenge to my mind, considering the shape of season 2013. It is nice to grab a victory out of the blue, but holding a game you have the lead in was the test. TFC passed it tonight.

It looked like a total team effort from what was onscreen. Caldwell and Henry seemed to handle the Revs, despite the whining and complaining and general dramatics of their players. Ecks was strong. Morgan seemed to respond well to his starting opportunity with a new international LB on the roster, Lambe not so much.
Brockie and Wiedeman are not the striker partnership of the ages, but they were active enough.

Laba. What can you say about Laba? He is looking more and more comfortable with the team, on the ball, tracking and tackling. Now he has a game winning goal to add to his TFC exploits.

I will not be attending the Roma game, but will watch it on the television. See you soon...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Disaster averted, but no firepower NYRB - 0 TFC - 0

Game time and east stand looks empty as usual
I had toyed with the idea of not blogging until the transfer window closes or Payne made a signing...

TFC arrived back in Toronto with a thud. Yes, I was not alone in questioning the spirit and lack of heart to the team.

So, had NYRB come into Toronto and torn the place apart, few would have been surprised. Unhappy yes, surprise no.

Yet TFC never looked all that shaky at BMO in the sunshine. They looked the better team, if you ignored the lack of finish. Caldwell and Henry were firm and steady in the back. Bendik contributed some saves, but overall was underworked.
Brockie and Braun were the striker pairing and I think they are a rough patch. I am puzzled as to why Braun's always shifting out to the wing. It's not that he doesnt get by  his man and sends in a cross, its just that their is nobody the other end to finish. Shouldnt he be the guy at the end of the play?

The other night I was emotional about the loss to Chivas and wrote of sending a few players to the minors for seasoning. Of those I mentioned, Agbossoumonde and Bekker were on the bench all game. The other player who I thought had played his way back to the Bench in LA was Morgan, but I see that Coach Nelsen has more patience and understanding than I. Morgan was ok, but the Convey- Eckersley combination was always the better one.

Osorio and Hall have both played better games. Laba just seems to be smoother each time. Some think that Nelsen won't play a diamond formation, but a midfielder out in front of Laba who can drive the attack forward would be a sight to see.
So in total, the defending seems to be in good shape and the lack of scoring is a growing concern.

Now we return you to your regularly scheduled TFC summer transfer window silence which we join in progress.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ugly tactical incompetence, lack of creativity and skill, shocking lack of pride - Chivas USA -1 Toronto Effing Crap - 0

Osorio was robbed, too many team-mates were criminal
Shame, shame is what I feel today.When the worst team in the league, a Chivas USA team without a win in months, goes down to 10 men in the first half and they still manage to beat you, that means you are clearly the worst team in the MLS. I believe in supporting your team through thick and thin, but right now I think they should get an earful when the take the field on Saturday.

Before my tirade reaches fever pitch, allow me to list my positives.

1. Laba and Caldwell contributed (yes, Caldwell did deflect the shot that went in behind him, but bad defending by a host of others had allowed Torres to waltz into that sweet spot).

2. Bendik was not at fault on the Chivas goal and played a good game.

3. Osorio created all of TFC's true chances. Convey put out an effort and deserves honourable mention.

I am sorry, but Ashtone Morgan and Kyle Bekker just played themselves off the field and do not deserve to sit on the TFC bench. Perhaps I could go as far as saying they do not deserve to be on a MLS pitch for the forseeable future. Richard Eckersley was horrible. All week TFC fans have been concerned that players are being let go before replacements have been secured. Then the team plays a game where, instead of seizing their opportunity to show their worth, Morgan, Bekker and Eckersley make a convincing argument that a few more should be loaned to the Ukraine. Morgan and Bekker might be suffering from lack of playing time. Loan them to wherever they are going to get playing time and coaching.

In extra time it was clear that Osorio had been fouled in the box and the ref made no call. Yet, I am still furious at TFC, they knew that they could not depend on the ref when he pulled out that too-quick red on Avila in the first half. Or when he yellow carded Braun for being out of the play. Why is Justin Braun always out of the play? Was it a gesture of fairness that Nelsen put on Braun for the second half? Chivas had been given an unjust red card, so play Braun to make the teams even?
This team lacks creative attacking skills and tactics.
This team lacks pride and cohesion.
This team lacks coaching.
This team deserves to struggle to attract quality players to play for them.

See you Saturday.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Another night devoted to the invisible plan SKC 3 TFC 0

Toronto FC asks a lot of their dedicated fans.

Trade Silva for allocation and mist.

Retire Califf.

Transfer O'Dea on the day of a road game.

Put in a terrible, weak, bush-league, disconnected show against Kansas City.

They had a better game against Kansas City back in March when they were still learning names.

There had better be something to restore hope soon. Some move to put the air back into the balloon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Danny Califf retires.

Danny Califf retired from Toronto FC today. He writes a classy letter - read it here. It is too bad that he did not get a chance to contribute, but it has been a season of change.

He has taken on the role of scout.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Luis Silva traded to DC for allocation money

This trade had better make sense in a week or two. Yes, Silva has stalled somewhat this year. He has scored zero goals and had not established himself in anyone position. However he was a young player that TFC fans were willing to give time. He was the sort of player we figured would be enhanced by new talent, not dislodged by new talent.

If it is true that players arriving would have sent Silva to the bench, maybe this is an acceptable move. Today it just feels wrong.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Forlan to TFC says Globe&Mail Paul Attfield

So, it is yet to be made official, but I would say that Paul Attfield of the Globe and Mail is a very credible reporter. So when he says "Forlan to TFC" I am ready to believe.

Here is what I wrote on the Globe and Mail report page.

First Tim Leiweke signing and it brings star power. It is not just a "name" grab, he makes sense in the team building TFC has undergone this year. Improvements in the back, Laba as the holding midfielder and now Forlan as the threat and link.
TFC has some moves still to make, youth and skill in the forward spots and action from the wings on the shopping list.

TFC fans, after the Torsten Frings years, have the right to hope first for healthy months ahead for Diego Forlan. At 34, Forlan could be past it. Even if that is the case, the high profile signing strategy  does not seem to be a "one-shot" deal. If you go by Leiweke's style in LA, signing a big star is justified partially by on the field success and also by credibility established for future signings.

Wow, the July 20th game, the next home game vs New York, just became a Hollywood event.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fool or faithful? TFC 3 Impact Montreal 3

I delayed writing this blog post. It was a roller coaster experience at the Big Bank Field Wed. night.
Within seconds of the game's start Montreal had scored. TFC came back within that half and scored 3, that's right 3! The second half started well for Toronto, but Montreal was able to strike twice. They pounced at the smallest of mistakes in the back and moved as hot knives through cheap margarine.

The other day at my Sunday morning soccer game, a fine fellow on my team mentioned that he had been at BMO for the TFC vs RSL game the day before. Not very entertaining was his verdict. I replied quickly, " I don't go to games looking for entertainment, I look upon it more as a form of worship".  I did not intend to be debating, but I think that suffering and misery should be a part of being a fan. I was once a season ticket holder with the Raptors and I admit that the always happy, happy approach turned me off. No matter how far behind the Raptors fell in the third quarter, the break between quarters 3 and 4 was always loud music and dancing girls. The team was stagnant for years and yet you were expected to dance to the loud music and be energetic if the cameras caught you.
To support and cheer for your team, you need to arrive at the stadium with belief and hope. However you also have to retain your membership in the world of global sporting observation. You don't want to be a fool who cheers for his team no matter their quality.
So I question myself today. Do the positives I see mean that the direction of TFC is positive? Or am I deluding myself and making the best of a bad meal?
Laba is looking better and better. I am hopeful that an attacking midfielder of quality will be landed by TFC, because Laba will prosper. The wings continue to be a concern. Convey may hold down a spot until help or Christmas arrives.
The summer transfer window opens July 9th. Hints abound that new players are on the horizon. This fool remains faithful.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tight game, faint hope, one goal allowed and no reply - TFC 0 Real Salt Lake 1

TFC has been a team that seems to be on the verge of reaching their full goal scoring potential. Trouble is this verge has lasted for months. Deeper trouble is maybe they have reached their full goal scoring potential.
Before I go into my take on offensive woes, let me mention the turning point woe of today (other than the RSL goal).

Doneil Henry needed an extra three seconds of composure today and Toronto could have played with a man advantage to end the game. Instead Henry reacted to the shoving of Luis Silva by shoving the shover (Beltran) and it was a red for each team. I am all for sticking up for a teammate, but don’t throw away a gift. Other than that moment of madness and the split second lapse of the goal, I thought that defending and goal keeping were pillars of strength today.

So let's go back to TFC's offense. Toronto does seem to be playing a more cohesive attacking game. It might be more accurate to describe it as "just short of attacking game" as there is still a crying lack of finish. There is just not enough shots of quality or openings created in close. The first half was filled with smart passing, they move the ball around quickly and change the point of attack well. 

 If you were of the opinion that the return of Danny K would instantly add goals, today gave indications that time is still required. It was Danny K’s first start since the injury of July 2012 and he does have to mesh with a lot of new faces. I was hoping for a Danny K and Earnshaw pairing, but Brockie was an energetic contributor. Just not a finisher.

Osorio and Laba both had solid games in the midfield. Osorio had a strong first half, but faded a little in the second. It seems that Osorio and Richter don't completely trust one another and movement down the right side suffered as a result.
Laba continues to grow. If the summer player moves brings Toronto the long sought attacking midfielder that can mesh with Laba, I predict happiness and fireworks.
So a short rest and a game on Wednesday, and Canadians leaving for the Gold Cup.