Thursday, July 24, 2014

Toronto FC 2 Tottenham Hotspurs 3

A clear but cool evening lakeside tonight. This was the first friendly that I was attending since year 1 - Benfica and then Aston Villa. This is not an indication that I am a raving opponent of the summer friendly. I guess I can see both sides to the argument. Most of the time I have avoided the friendlies because of price point or having a scheduling conflict or somebody else wanting the tickets. 
It was a different crowd, of course, since it was an optional purchase for the season ticket holders. A huge contingent of folks wearing Spurs gear. I am not sure how to measure these folks. If they are expat Londoners I suppose that global travel is such that they go back and see their team periodically. It would be sad to depend on North American tours for access to your team.
The Spurs fan were not an overwhelming force. THey were not together enough for any songs and  chants and when Toronto FC scored I felt that the crowd was behind them. Of course there was little in the way of south end supporters groups for TFC, they are the most likely to be somewhere grumbling about midseason friendlies.
I am not enough of a fan of Tottenham to know the strength of tonight's starting 11. Seeing Solardo and Lamella had me thinking that they started strong. The difference between Spurs and TFC was startling throughout the first half. The Spurs were smooth, well placed around the ball. It sometimes seemed as if it were a different ball on a different surface when Spurs were moving the ball around. Spurs had a ball that zipped and zoomed, always at a top speed. At one point I observed that the ball looked like it was on a monorail, under Spurs control.
Toronto had short passes, wild passes, bumpy bouncing passes, direct to the Spurs passes and "what are you thinking passes". The midfield of Lovitz, Warner, Oduro and Bekker were the culprits mostly, although Ashtone Morgan and Gilberto were making sure that every positional group had brutal contributions to make.
There was a sense that the two first half goals were inevitable. While Toronto were reeling around, THFC rode that quality passing and movement off the ball, that speed and dominant possession until a Spur was in a dangerous spot free from any defender and the ball was in the net. At the half they had scored two and you felt that they could easily run up the score.
If the marketing angle was that Jermaine Defoe wanted to show something to his old team, that something was probably a postcard, because he mailed it in tonight. I usually avoid the stat game as a ticket to nowhere, but I would like to see how many seconds Defoe had the ball at his feet, his passes attempted, completed, shots taken and any other measure. Part of it was an appalling lack of service, but Defoe was less than a show tonight. Chris Konopka was in the net for Toronto in the first half and Joe Bendik was probably the happiest player in the press box. I am sure that Konopka is rusty. He made some saves, but twice he looked out of his depth.
The second half might as well have been two different teams. I think that Kyle Bekker played the full game for Toronto, possibly Jeremy Hall and Ashtone Morgan too.
I think Spurs had a full change except for Brad Freidel in the net. I think that Tottenham were taking their foot off the pedal in the second half. Suddenly you saw less of the constant pressure leading to extended possession . I think that Toronto forwards were being given space and time. They were being allowed back into the game, in my humble opinion.
Weideman scored a goal and then the youngster, Jordan Hamilton scored for TFC to tie it up. Hamilton looked good. He had a great first touch and was a handful for defenders.
Yet, you sensed that Tottenham could turn it back on at any time and that they did. Andros Townsend found a channel (you know, a lane or a seam) and he curled a powerful beauty around Quillan Roberts who was Toronto's keeper in the second half.
It seems that the playing time with the Wilmington Hammerheads is a benefit to Hamilton and Roberts, they looked in good form. With Jeremy Hall playing in his old right back position, you wonder if either Bekker or Morgan are going to be heading south soon.
Next game is a big one, home against Kansas City. Defoe will not be playing due to going past the limit on yellow cards. Therefore it was wise to rest Michael Bradley, Joe Bendik and Justin Morrow tonight. Perhaps  we will see the TFC acquisition Warren Creavalle Saturday.
I won't be at the game, but will attempt to watch it on tv. Thanks for listening...

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