Saturday, May 25, 2013

Road trip blues or the May long slide NE Revs 2 TFC 0

Stopping the Revolution for 98% of the game
The game in New England tonight was the last TFC game in the month of May. They played five games, lost five times and managed to score one goal. Yes, there were two moments of shoddy defending tonight, but TFC simply can't put the ball in the net. There are times when I think the problem is effort and times when I think the lack of time together has to be the problem. However both of those aspects are overshadowed by a lack of offensive talent. 

The second half was a better performance for Toronto than the first. Osorio seemed to be a jolt of energy for the midfield and the attack. For most of the second half it was possible to dream that the energy and attempts to carry the play to New England was going to pay off. It was always a long shot and then New England ripped through 3 TFC defenders late in the game and put us out of our misery.
Yes, I am both a loyalist and an optimist. Maybe a trade could help. Perhaps a healthy Danny K and the return of Ecks, Russell or even Dunfield would help. The next game is a home game against Philly. See you then.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

MLS expands to New York City - Big Apple and Big Money means changes ahead

MLS will expand to 20 teams in 2015 and yesterday welcomed New York City Football Club as the new member.

The new team is paying $100 million to join and has combined ownership group of Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees.

My first, feeble thoughts....

You can say goodbye to MLS as a salary cap league. Neither Man City nor the Yankees strike me as nickel and dimers. The cap could remain on the books for the teams that need it, yet I predict loopholes will be created for the teams that want them. When the MLS agreement with players ends in 2014 it will be very interesting to see where the next round of negotiations go.

I wonder if MLS clubs will now need to seek out partnerships with overseas clubs? If NYCFC's  connection to Man City means a supply of players, what does TFC do to compete? Some fans may be unhappy with links to QPR, the Yorkies have already joked about Norwich and others will want to move away from UK teams completely. Could you imagine the impact on MLS if both young talent from Man City reserves use New York to build a future team and veterans such as Toure, Kompany and Zabaleta close out their careers there?

There are indications that the MLS will not stop at 20 teams. Beckham will be involved in a new team in the near future. Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, St. Louis, San Diego and Las Vegas have all been mentioned by somebody at some point. There seems to be a conflict brewing between wistful fans and prospective owners. The wistful fan wants to see promotion and relegation introduced. The big money people are too aware of the price tag, would you want to pay $100 million and risk a year playing against the Rochester Rhinos and the Puerto Rico Islanders?

TFC, the team of the perpetual rebuild, will face some interesting challenges ahead. The cost of attracting talent to Toronto, for one thing, just went up.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Winning requires scoring TFC 0 Crew 1

I am forlorn. I wanted Saturday to be the day when all of TFC's offensive potential fell into place. Instead TFC were barely pieced together. So I have thrown together a truncated report.


Bendik's distribution was much improved, throws were accurate and his long kicks seemed less like constant give-aways.

4 players, Caldwell, Brockie, Laba and Convey were playing in Toronto, for Toronto, for the first time.

There was no late game goal given up.


TFC's attack seems to be heading in the wrong direction. There seems to be far too much time with the TFC back four holding the ball and then sending it long to Earnshaw. It is predictable and reflects a lack of midfield options and attack.

Whether it was player nerves or eagerness I am not sure, but there was a lot of passes sent astray and   first touches that were horrible.

Some formation concerns. Why was Justin Braun playing out front in a wide left role in the first half? Convey for Braun made sense as a substitution at the half. Osorio came on for Jeremy Hall, but had little impact on the game. Then Jeremy Brockie came on for Reggie Lambe. His highlight was a leap at the ball and a header in the late going. He brought energy, we will see his contribution level for next time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Haunted in California San Jose Quakes 2 TFC 1

Palm trees, sudden sunsets and 3 MLS teams - the start of a long list entitled "Things that haunt Torontonians in California"

My beloved and beleaguered TFC need a vacation. More than any other place on earth, California has been the go-to destination for my vacations. After the game in San Jose perhaps TFC needs a vacation from California. The schedule gives Toronto a break, staying at home until their next game at BMO Saturday May 18 versus Columbus Crew.

The team and assorted journalists might have known this far more than the average fan, but San Jose's roster abounds with ex TFC players  Dan Gargan, Nana Attakora and Sam Cronin were all starters for the Quakes against TFC. Alan Gordon is also a Quake player but is injured. It was jarring to see well known faces playing for the other side. It made it difficult for me to focus on the (predictable) game at hand and I found my mind wandering down the corridors of memory (TFC division).

Each of these Quake players represent a haunting tale in a woeful chapter in the story of TFC that I am writing. (Don't hold your breath, I have an advance of an empty beer bottle from an obscure German publisher that wants to title it "Laken Mistaken").

Sam Cronin is the TFC rookie, later traded away by Preki, who will always live in TFC memories as the player willing to speak to the media after the 5-0 loss in Giant Stadium October 24, 2009. That was the game where TFC needed a draw or a win and they would have made the MLS Cup playoffs. It was the worst moment in the year TFC came closest to reaching the next level. Cronin was honest about the shattering result and might have been too willing to point the finger at other players. Yet TFC fans appreciated the sentiment and he seemed to be one of the young players to build a better team around. Cronin would be on the list of players that TFC fans would take back in a heartbeat.

Nana Attakora is still a young player (24), which underlines how young he was when he first played for TFC. He was 18 when he signed with Toronto in the first summer of their existence. He was 19 when he first became a starter for TFC. Defenders and keepers take some time in development. Put Attakora on the "TFC back in a heartbeat" list. Winter gets the blame for giving up on the 22 year old Attakora. There was talk of contract disputes with him. You might even argue that TFC overpaid defenders Eckersely and O'Dea because of the history of trying to underpay Attakora.

Dan Gargan is a fringe, solid MLS player who can play a number of positions. He could be on a poster of athletes that Toronto fans cheer for because he displays hustle and guts and passion ahead of the more subtle skill set that a top player requires. Gargan might be the least likely to be on a return to TFC wishlist. But take a look at the American players on the 2013 roster - Bendik, Braun, Califf, Emory, Hall, Richter, Silva, Wiedeman. Add to them the players who play as Americans but have International backgrounds - Frei, Agbossoumonde and Russell. Gargan would not be out of place on that list.

If only TFC had thrown Mo and Preki overboard before those two pulled off the Cronin trade for allocation money. Here is the number of football clubs that Mo and Preki have been employed by since TFC, zero.

If only TFC had figured out that Winter's approach to developing Canadian talent was a permanent verdict of 'not good enough, not Dutch enough" before Attakora was sent packing.

If only somebody had been roster savvy enough to figure out that Americans will be part of the TFC supporting cast before Dan Gargan was cut.

Oh, you wanted a report on the game in San Jose? Taking the lead with Braun's goal was a pleasant shock. The battle of the second half was always going to go the way of the Quakes. TFC defenders had individual efforts of merit, but if you expect a cohesive presence in a road game from a back four of Emory, Henry, O'Dea and Richter with Russell coming in to sub for Emory (and against a cohesive Quake attack), you have missed the point on time to develop a defending unit. You could actually speculate on whether the TFC back four are on a first name basis yet. The Quakes were able to score on TFC's split-second mistakes.
Bendik makes strong saves and has a good physical presence, but the constant give away that are his goal kicks needs to stop.
Laba and Hall need more time together. Laba will learn to support Hall so that each can accentuate the positive. I do dream that the summer window designated player shopping will be for the attacking midfielder/withdrawn striker out in front of Laba and Hall that will make the middle of the field a land of opportunity.
Lambe and Ephraim and Bostock and Silva have combined for zero goals in 2013. Something or someone has to give.
Earnshaw needs a game to change his luck. He is part poacher, making the most of defenders and keepers having to stop the scintillating shots of others. The zero goal guys are just not providing those.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A moment of defending as rocky as the mountains Colorado 1 TFC 0

HBO rejects series based on TFC 2013 "far too predictable"

One of these days the reward for witnessing all these collapses is going to be incredible. I have said it before, I'll say it again. If TFC were scoring down the other end, these last gasp goals would be consolation goals. Silva could have/should have scored one and Earnshaw robbed himself a few times.
Bendik's goal kicks and Richter's throw ins were too powerful for their own good. Between missed goals and giving away possession on a regular basis, Colorado were given a gift tonight.

I did find the camera angles a little awkward and the cameras seemed too far away from the pitch to follow the game well. I wanted to see how Laba looked, but it was often hard to make out players. He had a few touches, but was hardly a blazing star in his debut.

Next game in San Jose late Wednesday night. Sometimes being a fan means submitting yourself to the predictable, because you would kick yourself if it turned out to be that game.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TFC puréed Montreal Impact 6 TFC 0

Please do not adjust your set.

I am not in the mood for much writing tonight. I can say that I watched the tv broadcast from beginning to end. Sometimes being a fan means suffering.
It is hard to find anything other than negatives in tonight's disaster of a performance. Perhaps it was better to have butts kicked now by Montreal rather than stumbling on into the Champion's League. Clearly TFC were not ready for prime time.

If the TFC leadership were hesitating about signing a player or two before the window closes on May 6, they should not be hesitating now. Wiedeman did not look capable of repeating his performance from last week. Bostock and Lambe are both struggling. I was concerned with defending lapses in the first half. Ashtone Morgan is too often unable to shut down wingers. Yet the midfield's problems holding the ball, not able to avoid giveaway passes are putting the back four in a bad spot too.
In the second half, once you had to chase the game and gamble, the Montreal goals on the counter-attack almost seemed inevitable. 

What a day. It was the wrong time for TFC to start playing like Barcelona.