Saturday, April 19, 2014

Should have taken a point Dallas 2 Toronto 1

I see the progress. A year ago TFC would have points slip through their fingers at home. Now it happens on the road. Still frustrating, if Dallas is such a good team, why does TFC with a depleted roster look more than their equals?

I have always shied away from analysis of games on the road because I know that television can be deceptive. You lose a sense of formations or how players are performing off the ball. Listening to Dan Dunleavy for any length of time and you lose your marbles.

So I will limit myself to a tote bag of dubious observations...

That ref should be put into a van and taken to a rehab facility tonight. What was he on?
The push on Gilberto in the box. The double yellow when Jackson and the Dallas player went down after the desperate challenge.

Issey Nakajima Farran continues to shine. I like his persistence and his hustle. Scoring his second goal in his third game was fantastic. I think that the yellow card in the second half took him out of the game. Neither Bekker nor Osorio were terrible, but they looked off their games.

Jackson has an uncanny ability to cover ground quickly. You think he is out of the play and zoom he recovers. Just needs to hone the passing and the shooting.

That was not the Bradley we have come to cherish and admire.

Gilberto did nothing to change my continued sour opinion.

Morrow and Bloom were both star performers. I was also about to say more about Caldwell and Orr but that last goal was too crushing.

Two weeks of rest and recuperation ahead. See you in May.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Art vanishes, dullness returns, Gilberto needs lesson on failed DPs of Toronto TFC 0 Colorado 1

I am totally pissed at the lack of effort, the lack of creativity and the lack of tactical diversity displayed by Toronto FC (circa 2013?2012? etc) yesterday at the National Soccer Stadium.

I can't promise a coherent blog today.  I was felled by the flu late on Thursday and was still suffering when I decided to drag myself to the game Saturday afternoon. I don't think I have ever used my blog platform to salute my wife. She is beautiful, loyal, supportive and wonderful. A lesser person, a lesser fan would have found a way to have somebody else take our tickets for the afternoon. She got me there and got me through.

For the long time fan, the loyal supporter since day one, perhaps the hardest thing about losing to Colorado was losing to a team that included Edson Buddle, Nick Labrocca and Nathan Sturgis - all past Toronto FC players. It could have been worse, we were spared goals by Marvell Wynne.

I am not willing to watch Gilberto struggle anymore. I know it is a knee jerk reaction, but it has been building for a few games now.  I don't think that Gilberto has the muscle or the skill to make it in the MLS. I am predicting that if they stick with him as a starting striker he will go months before he scores. I will go even further and claim that when he scores it will be meaningless, an extra goal in a blowout or a consolation goal in a thumping loss. I think that he plays like a fancy boy, looks for the foul in critical situations instead of making the play that will create the goal. If Bright Dike was healthy I am convinced that he would be the striker partner for  Jermaine Defoe. Sorry to be Mr. Hindsight, but I am firmly in the rather have Laba than Gilberto camp right now. Gilberto, to my eyes, plays like a man with nothing to prove and little to offer. With Bradley and Defoe out of the line-up, it was Gilberto's time to prove something. I think it would have been worthwhile to pull in the translator at half time and tell Gilberto he needed to score in the next 35 minutes or he will be subbed.
I say bench him. Limit his minutes and make him earn his spot. His success in Toronto hangs in the balance.Toronto FC need a physical presence up front- why not use Hagglund, Agbossomounde or Richter as a crash and bash force up front?

The field conditions continue to be terrible. However it seems that Colorado were able to play a game far more suited to it than the home team. Too often TFC was trying to make the sweet short passes that were destined to hit a bump or a crater. Fire from distance should have been the home team motto.

I was aware that the Toronto FC midfield would be under the microscope - missing Bradley, Rey and Osorio. I am encouraged with the progress that Bekker continues to make, he hit the post with a shot that was a half centimetre away from making him the hero of the day. The knock on Bekker has been in the past that he is good on the ball, but disinterested when trying to win it back. I saw none of that Saturday.
 Jeremy Hall seemed to be lost at sea when Colorado scrambled around and scored, but for the most part Hall covers ground well, positions himself well and is a fine bench strength midfielder. We just can't expect offensive creation or wonderful passing from him. I thought that the Colorado ref took Nakajima-Farran out of the game early. I think that the Denver Broncos' linebackers would have been kinder and gentler to Issey Nakajima-Farran. The ref let Colorado get away with out and out bodychecks. This was particularly bad reffing. Late in the game Issey was being talked to by the ref and Colorado was in an uproar over the slightest contact that caused the Rapid do go down like he had been knifed. I thought Issey contributed despite these obstacles.
Jackson had a letdown game after his supreme effort in Columbus.

I will rest now, drink plenty of fluids and join you when healthy...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A work of football art - Columbus 0 Toronto FC 2

A pic from those who travelled - envy from this end

Within the first minutes of today's televised TFC game it was clear that something special was being delivered by the visitors in grey. This was not a squad hollowed out by the many players missing, but shaped by the skill and determination of those on the field. Toronto took the game to Columbus early and Michael Bradley's first goal for TFC was the result. Even when the Crew started to have more of the play, TFC was never scrambling or dominated.

It was a total team effort. DeRo surprised me with effort, hustle, speed and the willingness to track way back once Toronto had the lead. It looked like the 4-5-1 of my dreams at times.

The central defending pair of Bradley Orr and Nick Hagglund were just as important to keeping a clean sheet as was Julio Cesar. It was as if we were watching an episode of the vet and the rookie. Bloom and Morrow were smart and patient defending the corners and both showed flair down the attacking end too.

Bradley was king of the midfield in the first half, but Kyle Bekker played his best game yet. 

Give credit to Ryan Nelsen and his coaching staff today. The defending awareness that was missing last week against Real Salt Lake was evident all game long. The substitutions were well timed and seemed to lift the confidence of all. Hall joining Bekker in the midfield to give Bradley a rest paid off. Nakajima-Farran in for DeRosario turned out to be brilliant as Issey N-J scored that important second goal.

I felt that Gilberto was not on the same page as his team in the first half. The second half was an improvement. Jackson seems to find Gilberto with the ball from everywhere and Gilberto's best scoring chance came off a nice set-up from Bloom.

I had said out loud in Section 220 that I was willing to be patient with this team and go through some growing pains, but that I put patience aside when TFC meets Columbus and Montreal. Only crushing wins mattered.


Crew v TFC preview - when scoring is scarce, defend, defend and destroy

I am a touch unsettled about the game on television this evening. This season's TFC television watching has been both heaven and hell. Heaven in Seattle and hell in Salt Lake City last Saturday. I keep a small space open for good vibes, but here is the quick list that has me leaning towards concern.
- a handful of injuries (Defoe, Osorio, Henry, Morgan)
- Caldwell suspended (but Jackson back from suspension)
- Columbus has a history of owning TFC
- brave TFC fans are making the trek to the capitol of Ohio
- there is a bleak, cloudy and cold sky today

I am not comfortable with the suggestions that TFC will play a 4-4-2 formation. I believe that your players determine your formation, not the other way around. For all of his determination, I just don't see DeRo as a replacement for Defoe. I think that a 4-5-1 is called for from the present roster. Gilberto as the sole striker and a host of midfielders. Bradley with the combo of Bekker, Hall, Jackson and Rey with Orr, DeRo or Nakajima-Farran off the bench. I think it is too early to do anything but experiment with the midfield. I think that Rey has skills, his touches, twists and turns with the ball at his feet seems to indicate that he is better in traffic than as a pure winger.
I don't fondly recall those 2012 Winter days when our Dutch leader was convinced that a 4-3-3 was the formation no matter what players we had. If I had a dollar for every time Plata had the ball out wide, isolated and swarmed by multiple defenders....
So I am cynical. Let TFC play attacking football at home and destructive football on the road. RSL scoring 3 should be considered an affront to decency. It might be brutal to be calling for a bunker effort so early in the season, but a point gained away to the Crew would make my Saturday night.