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. 

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