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.

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