Sunday, May 3, 2015

Make the final --- Philadelphia Union 0 Toronto FC 1

Might I be the first blogger in history to begin a game report with a pic of Chris Konopka??

Sometimes I lose track of my bloggish intentions.  If "Mistake by the Lake" is intended to be both a fan's diary and a tactical view of TFC games, the tactical side has been suffering.  I find that watching game after game on television turns this blog into a mushy collection of media observations and a lot of mystery guesses. I think things such as "what are Jackson and Findley doing on the same wing?" or "have their been enough games for Gio to have as little confidence in Jackson getting a ball into the box as the rest of TFCdom?", but I lack the context of the field and formation to determine what is accident and what is design. TV angles and camera choices are more confusing than helpful, notably when it is a stadium you only watch a game in once a year.

Maybe the technology is just around the corner where you can have a great view of the full pitch and zoom in on different players. You could pull back to get a sense of the formation and zoom in to capture the one v one battle down the touchline or in front of the net. At least I watched today's game on conventional television (oh the streaming struggles of the game in Orlando). I don't watch curling, never will. So I associate Vic Rauter's voice (and Graham Leggat too) with World Cup television coverage from days of yore. It is always great when the TSN schedule gives us Rauter calling a TFC game. He may not be the most up to date on the squad and he can repeat himself too often, but you get the sense that he is glad to be there. I dream of the game that Vic Rauter calls with Jason DeVos. I would want Vic to send J.DV home for being a sourpuss right in the midst of the second half.

But enough sports media and on to the sport. It was very pleasing that TFC squeaked through in Philadelphia (actually Chester), winning their second game in a row, not giving up a goal since the first half in Dallas and heading back to Toronto where the home opener next Sunday beckons. My newest TFC trick is to halt the broadcast of the game with my pvr and then follow the game on Twitter. That way the tension of protecting a lead on the road is reduced. Philadelphia Union is a team struggling to score this year, yet they spent the afternoon scaring me. When they put on Sebastien Le Toux and Casey Conor, two players who seem to have a special knack for scoring against Toronto, to join Maurice Edu I felt that TFC karma calls for giving up either the lead or all the points. Chris Konopka was the Toronto keeper due to a Joe Bendik injury and allowing zero goals was a welcome contribution. The back four of Morgan, Morrow, Hagglund and Perquis were fine. Your confidence in Bradley and Cheyrou in the midfield has to be strong, because you are always going to wonder at the contributions of Jackson and Findley. Altidore and Gio as the strikers have been everything hoped for and more.

For the hibernating, allow me a summary of TFC 2015 so far. Toronto FC began the MLS 2015 season with 7 road games as their home stadium, BMO Field, was undergoing an expansion. The Philly game was the last of those road games. TFC now has a record of 3 wins, 0 ties, 4 losses
The opening game victory was in Vancouver.
The Columbus game was evenly matched until TFC went down to 10 men late in the first half- loss #1.
Both the RSL and the Chicago games had Toronto pull themselves back into games only to falter in classic collapse fashion - loss #2 and #3.
The Dallas game was a case of collapse at the start, spend three hours due to a weather delay and then look a better team in the end. Loss #4 and the start of the panic concerning coaching, formation and direction.

It may have been ugly, but beating both Orlando and Philly means that TFC returns to Toronto with a sense that a corner has been turned. They have 9 points, good enough for a tie in the last(6th) playoff space. They have a goal difference of 0, scoring and allowing 11 goals and have kept a clean sheet for the last two games.

(Now, I know that TFC has a Canadian Championship game Wednesday in Montreal, but I do not want the distraction. I will watch and cheer for TFC, but I think it would be smart to play the "C" team in Montreal. Toronto needs to make a huge splash on Sunday with their new stadium. Montreal will have the loss to Club America still ringing in their ears...).

I am not the only one who will be thrilled to find myself making my way to the stadium next Sunday to see the team, finally, in the flesh.  A renovated stadium (awash in double blue colours?) awaits.

Stay tuned.

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