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.

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