Today felt like the true home opener. It was a day that left me with a basket full of positives. Sure, it was a harsh but all too familiar moment to give up a goal in the final ticks of the clock. Yet the positives are what stick with me hours later.
Just don’t ask me to be specific about those positives. Perhaps I am struggling with putting my observations into words tonight. TFC looks stronger this year, but I am not sure that I can capture just how this is happening. There does not seem to be a huge shift in tactics or formation or even players, but the strength is there.
It is strong to gain a point against LA, but doing it on a day when many TFC players seemed off their top game was even a better feat.
Perhaps I should exclude the keeper and back four from that “off” description. Bendik was solid in net and the back four (which added Russell and dropped Morgan) worked well together when defending. OK, two goals were scored.
Let me squawk about the midfield. Hall and Dunfield as the starting central midfielders continue to be a puzzling, mixed situation. They work hard and defend well. Hall deserves special mention for the attention he lavished on Landon Donavon late in the game. Yet the attacking side of their game is tame and predictable. They both seem to lack vision for what is possible ahead of them. Threading forward passes or taking on defenders is not part of their game. So it is a steady diet of passing the ball out wide and letting others attack. Bostock and Russell played as you would expect players who only met a few weeks ago to play, a little rusty and disconnected from each other. Trouble is Lambe and Eckersley also looked like strangers to each other all too often.
Perhaps it was respect for the LA midfield that inspired Dunfield and Hall as starters. Once Osorio was put on for Dunfield in the late going, the tone of the midfield quickly changed. Osorio was working to get open in the middle of the pitch. When he had the ball at his feet he was taking on defenders, drawing fouls and finding ways to pass forward.
I have no squawks about the strikers. Earnshaw is a treat to watch and his goal was the highlight of the game. Ephraim is a midfielder trying to play forward and he seems to be swarmed every time he touches the ball. Of course, I blame Dunfield and Hall. They either pass him into an impasse or their unwillingness to get forward strands poor Ephraim with no passing options. I suspect he is cheering loudest for the signing of a new striker so that he can return to the midfield.
So Nelsen's TFC is clearly a work in progress. There are new signings on the horizon and the starting 11's bound to change. Having Silva and Osorio come off the bench and raise TFC's attacking game is an indication of the young talent the team has to choose from.
Next week TFC vs Dallas
Magnetic thoughts – Why don’t TFC put a picture of the entire team on their schedule magnet? By selecting a few players for the photo, it seems to create a magnet curse. Magnet 2011 had DeRo, LaBrocca and Peterson. I think all of them were gone by Canada Day. Last year’s magnet featured Plata and Frings. This year it is O’Dea, Bekker, Frei and Morgan.