So much for the "new coach bounce". Toronto's parade of woeful home performances continued at BMO Field Saturday as the Philly Union scored two in the first half and Toronto had no response. It has been a while since TFC had any positive responses in any aspect of life. They managed to hit posts and crossbars in the second half, but they were more a team hoping to get lucky than a team that found itself when the going got tough. This is a team that has lost itself.
If the reason to fire Ryan Nelsen was that a tailspin with ten games could be corrected what is the verdict now with 8 games left? Today, if you were looking for signs that the tailspin will end, it was a day of squinting. The sound at the end of the game was a loud smack as the fans began kissing the fading prospect of MLS playoffs goodbye.
The hardest worker in a TFC jersey was Dwayne DeRosario. In a time of turmoil (and the day of DeRo and his cheque signing goal celebration conveniently forgotten) he is taking a leadership role through effort. He is making it clear that playing for Toronto can be a motivation in itself. However it is also clear that DeRo at age 36 can't have too many more games left.
Despite DeRo's contribution, the team does not look like a cohesive unit. Toronto FC has shown in recent weeks that they can't compete with New England, can't compete with Philadelphia and can only squeak a point at home versus Chicago..
Coach Vanney gets marks for an improved substitution pattern. Although it appears that the Warner off/ Kyle Bekker on sub late in the first half was due to injury, the Bradley/Warner combo continues to be under the microscope. Vanney also put on Jackson for a tired Dero and late Creavalle for Hagglund.
When Philadelphia was taking an early corner, it was time for a nervous glance at the clock to see that five minutes elapsed without allowing a goal. The first Philadelphia goal was still early and Toronto has proven to be hopeless at coming back. Hopeless at scoring, hopeless at preventing goals at home, hopeless at avoiding mindless giveaways, hopeless at moving with the ball, hopeless at moving off the ball, hopeless at anticipating each other. A lot of hopeless.
The saddest part of this "bloody big mess" is that the path forward is unknown. Cheering for this team can feel like ancient oceanfront living, the fog rolls in regularly and the air is filled with the sounds of ships sinking. I bring this up because I am still convinced that a maritime disaster may be the connection to the team curse.
If this decline continues, what does an offseason hold? How many rebuilds can one team have? I am scrambling for some positives here as my memories of a limp Saturday afternoon dominate all.
There are a handful of first round draft picks to use in 2015.
There will be the search for a coach or at least a coaching staff.
There will be the possibility of a contrite Tim Leiweke making amends and finding a star to truly build the team around, but I think he will just high-tail it out of town. Then his successor will fire Tim Bezbatchenko and then proceed to ignore TFC until the day the franchise is sold or flies out of town. So much for staying positive.
It is funny (perverse) how a Toronto Football Cursed season unfolds. In the early months Defoe and Bradley settled in early and Gilberto looked shaky. Now I think that Gilberto is more likely to be part of 2015 than Defoe.
Walking away from the game my cell phone buzzed with the breaking news that Jermaine Defoe is now scheduled to return to training on September 20 (the day before the next home game). Did TFC bigwigs spot the south end banner with an outline of Defoe and the word "Judas" beneath it? Do they think that Defoe scoring a goal or two is going to beat back the sense of betrayal the fans are likely to express? I wonder if Defoe will train with TFC and get a sense of the atmosphere in Toronto towards him and find a way to stay off the starting roster in the weeks ahead or will MLSE find a way to make him play.
Tim Leiweke has to be aware that he deserves as much scathing scrutiny as Jermaine Defoe. Big Tim is the man responsible for signing the star player who just might last in TO from Euro winter transfer window to the next Euro winter transfer window.
Next game is next weekend in Chicago. The game must be watched, but you look forward to it the way you look towards a medical appointment. I will have my OHIP card by my side.