Sunday, March 29, 2015

RSL 2 TFC 1 - a late letdown, but positives aplenty

I think it is fair to observe that most TFC fans tuned into the Sunday night game versus Real Salt Lake with defensive fears once they knew who were starting as the back four (Creavalle, Hagglund, Simonin and Morgan).
Although both RSL goals were taking advantage of shoddy marking, it was not the TFC defensive norm for most of the game.
Toronto had a few first half moments, but they came on stronger in the second half. I need to see some replays of the disallowed Hagglund goal, I missed the foul on the broadcast.
When you consider that Bradley and Altidore were missing on international duty, Caldwell and Perquis (the vet central defending pairing) were injured and Morrow was serving his red card suspension, TFC showed some depth and plenty of battling ability.
Cheyrou and Giovinco were both solid contributors. I am sticking my neck out and predicting that both will score their first TFC goals in Chicago next weekend. Since my neck is out, I am going to look ahead and say TFC wins in Chicago and Philly, draws in Orlando and Dallas. That would give them 11 points prior to playing their first home game in May. Fingers are crossed.

Until then....sorry just too tired for an in-depth analysis. I am feeling that Coach Vanney has the team properly prepped and playing a fluid style. I could see where he was going with his substitutions. They were timely and positive.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Gantar the ref from Hell, beats TFC by two Columbus goals, "What can you say? He’s just not good enough.”

Clearly playing the ball not the man

Gantar, the ref from hell, botched another TFC game last evening. Late in the first half he red carded Justin Morrow.  Hell, he tried to red card Damien Perquis, which is a clear indication that he is not up to the job.
Yes, I have the luxury of hindsight. I have watched the video multiple times. I chose the above screen shot to underline how hopeless the assistant ref had to be to support Gantar. He is in the top of the picture with nothing between him and Morrow with the ball at his feet. He deserves to be banished along with Gantar.

You can't call a foul on a defender in this situation. He is playing the ball. It is not even a situation of one leg going for the ball and the trailing leg fouling the attacker, he had BOTH legs ahead of the attacker. Even if the back of Morrow is being kicked by the attacker, Morrow has position. He has precedence. Any contact in this spot is a foul to the attacker. If he (Ethan Finley) makes contact with the back of the defender's legs WHO IS PLAYING THE BALL and then goes to ground HE GETS BOOKED FOR SIMULATION. It is not even a 50/50 ball, not even a shoulder to shoulder situation. Morrow probably felt he could not risk a shoulder to shoulder stance as last man back, so he won the ball.

Up until this moment, it was a game that hung in the balance. I can't bring myself to dissect the TFC defensive lapses that made the Columbus goals possible, since the Gantar decision created an unbalanced second half.
It does underline the need for TFC to establish themselves early. Giovinco had some shots that were worthy. Cheyrou played well. I am still not sold on the TFC midfield as a central block and letting Creavalle and Morrow be responsible for all wing play. Having an overlapping back works best with an element of surprise. Vanney's TFC uses it as a steady diet item.
I am most worried about Ashtone Morgan, who took over as left back with the banishment of Morrow. I have been a fan of Morgan's, often attributing his mistakes to youthful exuberance. Last night he was gambling and losing balls in open field, failing to get goal side when Altidore was back helping defend Morgan's section of the pitch. Just awful.
Two weeks until TFC play away in Utah (Real Salt Lake). Hopefully the sting of this cruel outcome will fuel some fire for that next game. Stay tuned

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Game 1 - TFC controls Whitecaps and parade route planning begins VW 1 TFC 3

Welcome season 2015! Fire up the television set and adjust the antenna, we are about to watch the TFC Bradleys play game 1 on the road in Vancouver.

Now this blogger has been keeping an intensely low profile. Oh yes, I watched those pre-season games from Brandenton Florida. But what was the point of blogging about mist and rain and strange camera angles, I ask you? You knew that they looked ragged. Yet, you had to expect that considering just how many newcomers were trying to fit into the squad. Sure Altidore and Bradley have had years together through their USMNT days, but Perquis and Cheyrou and Giovinco and Findley are in that crunchy mix too. 

They still looked somewhat in the crunchy mix phase as the first half in Vancouver rolled along. Whitecap newcomer Octavio Rivero missed a gift with a stutter step and you feared that it would be the only break Toronto got for the night. The home team looked like a smooth concoction and it seemed as if their plan of attack was to hit Caldwell with speedy players who could glide on by. One of those glides did result in the Vancouver goal as Whitecap Kah set up Octavio Rivero for his first Vancouver goal and the injustice of that earlier miss was put to rest.

However the rest of the story was a shocker. The Whitecaps lost control of the midfield, could not control the ball and started passing the ball as if they had just met for the first time before the game. Where did Coach Carl Robinson's cinderella run to the playoff guys go to? TFC started to play a control game, creating a slow build up and using thoughtful movement. Their passing began to take  over.
Then Osorio to Giovinco, Gio curled around a defender and fed a through ball to Altidore and Jozy Altidore had his first TFC goal. It was a statement goal. It might be too, too early to call it a "I can be a Defoe-like scorer around here" sort of statement, but you got the sense that  

Now I am not a fan of 4-3-3, at least not the way Winter's TFC used to play it.  TFC started with Altidore as the left winger (although he crossed to the right for goal 1) and tiny Giovinco as a centre forward. The midfield of Osorio, Cheyrou and Bradley seemed to start off in an unsure formation, they were bunching up and not getting their tracking back assignments clear between them.
Then once the game was tied, the cohesion of TFC just seemed to rise. The second half was all Toronto. Sure, Joe Bendik had to make some saves and the defenders were tested. Morrow was able to attack down the left wing (his run and cross created the Findley goal making it 2 for TFC), Creavalle had a sturdy game on the right. Perquis looks like a real find, positions himself well, recovers quickly and might be the best TFC central defender on the ball since, since, since ever? I think that second half Bradley was protecting Caldwell from the young lightning bolts of Vancouver, but they both played well. I like Cheyrou's style and passing. The potential power of Altidore (scored his second goal on a pk) and Giovinco has to put a smile on every Toronto fan's face tonight.

Now I know, I know - TFC started last year with a win on the road (Seattle) and we were instantly swept up. But I have a feeling that the Toronto Bradleys are a stronger team than the Toronto Bradley-Defoes of 2014. Not that they are in any way a one man team, Cheyrou allows Michael Bradley a comfort zone and the attacking options are amazing. It is just easier to call them the Toronto Bradleys than a mishmash of Gio and Jozy and Benoit and Damien and....

Going out on a limb here, but I think Columbus (TFC's road opponent next weekend) could be a touch worried. Stay tuned and keep smiling. Mother's Day (the day of TFC's home opener) is still two months away.