Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beaten by dirt TFC 0 NYCFC 2

That was not an entertaining evening out. Mistakes by the lake, that old theme, came back to haunt us all and "dam" mistakes were made by Toronto FC all night long. It was frustrating to watch. Perhaps TFC coaches and players alike had prepared for this game by reading their own press clippings. NYCFC came, grabbed, held and conquered. Ugly soccer all night from the visitors. Scored on a penalty and pounced on some sloppy play for their second. Sure, TFC were playing against both a gritty wall of blue AND the ref, but an absolute lack of pounce from the home side had this fan walking away from the game totally annoyed. IF we are better than them, better than that (Perquis and Cheyrou were repeatedly hit in the head) adjustments have to be made.

Toronto FC lost and I put some of the blame on Michael Bradley. He played an ordinary game, his passes were ordinary, his speed was ordinary and his lack of offensive urgency was a gift to New York. Bradley becomes the attacking midfielder with no attack. What works for him in a US shirt hinders him in Toronto red, that is the midfield maestro role. Take your TFC  shots and fill the net. He should have been shredding NYCFC, a MLS expansion team defense. Instead he lays off, does not dominate the midfield and his ordinary passes create zero goal scoring opportunities for others. New York must smile every time Bradley passes the ball to Osorio or Warner. Maybe it is only human after the recent highs of beating both Netherlands and Germany, that a contest against NYCFC would be low on the inspiration chart for Captain Bradley. It is also human as  a fan to feel that some nights Bradley needs either a swat in the head with the chart paper or a seat on the bench. Without Bradley, TFC beat DC United on the road. With Bradley an expansion team waltzed in and beat TFC on the scoreboard and around the ankles.
TFC lost and I put some of the blame on Seba Giovinco. He just gave every MLS team a template for how to put him off of his game and keep him off the scoresheet. Double team and cheap shots were the New York treatment and Giovinco responded with an obvious foul and got a yellow card for his efforts. Giovinco goes down too easily, too often and New York exploited it all night. The second or third time he spent more attention to ref complaining than TFC goal scoring, he needed to be benched. A canny coach could always say he did it to protect his player from ill treatment and injury but behind closed doors insist that scoring goals, not debating bad refs, pays the bills.

Speaking of the coach, TFC lost and I put a lot of the blame on Coach Greg Vanney. It takes more than a lucky shirt to coach. Did TFC adjust in the second half to the NYCFC constant itchy blanket on Giovinco? New York had been getting away with wrestling, holding fouls all game without even the gesture of warnings from the ref and then TFC sub Altidore (trying to get to a ball) is given a yellow card? Sure ref, that is what the game needed, stop those Toronto forwards from manhandling NY defenders to get to the ball. That should have been the final straw. Vanney was seen chewing out the ref around that point, but it had no true impact on the team or on the crowd. If a TFC coach did not go ballistic over the reffing last night, just how bad would it have to get? Vanney did nothing to alter strategy or alter the tone of the match. It seems that Giovinco and Bradley run the team, not Vanney.  Was it a surprise to anyone that subs Findley and Jackson provided no goals, hell, not even a shot at net!

The TFC coach I dream of would have got himself thrown out of the game last night for both the theatrics and the principle. That coach would give the late game midfield spark job to Jay Chapman and save us from the non-play of Jackson. He would be demanding something of Bradley and Giovinco. He would beat expansion teams.
At least we face a midweek game against Montreal, so hopefully we are singing a different tune soon. Right now I fear TFC have no response to a game of grit and grab. Size, muscle and meanness just got put on the top of my TFC player shopping list...
NYCFC at practice

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Giovinco scores and scores DC United 1 TFC 2

Toronto FC grabbed a road victory Saturday night, their fourth of 2015, by defeating DC United in Washington. DC United still leads the Eastern Conference, but the Toronto win moves them into third spot and Toronto have played 4 less games. TFC have been on this cliff before. Promise and potential and games in hand seems to be the way June always arrives for TFC. There are a many signs that this year they turn from the cliff and begin to fly.

Top Ten Reasons that TFC are playoff bound in 2015 (ok, I miss Letterman)

10. The road victory in DC was without Michael Bradley.
9. Seba Giovinco.
8. Coach Vanney had the confidence in his team to go for a road victory - subbing on Jay Chapman and Jozy Altidore in the late minutes of the game.
7. Defensive strengths continue - a summer signing and a return for Caldwell would not hurt, but Morgan, Morrow, Zavaletta and Perquis held DC scoreless for more than half a game (ignoring the offside goal disallowed).
6. Konopka continues to play as #1 keeper, Joe Bendik has recovered from injury, but it is a positive sign to have two quality keepers battling for the #1 job.
5. Canadian content is brewing nicely - Osorio, Morgan and Chapman all contributing.
4. Jozy Altidore is back from injury
3. Seba Giovinco
2. Seba Giovinco
1. Seba Giovinco

Yesterday is/was quite a football day. The Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus was an entertaining spectacle. The Canada Women's World Cup opener was a nail biter. The Lady Canucks played tense and tight, clumsy and sloppy, but the penalty kick winner gave us all reason to hope. Then cap the day off with a TFC win in DC - quite a day...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

#Blatterout resigns, football fans ashamed of deep corruption rejoice

You would not have to read many of my blog posts, sit with me at a game for long or watch me coach my local adult team to see just how much I love this game of football. I love it and have been hurt, as millions of others have been hurt, by the avalanche of FIFA corruption under Sepp Blatter.

Today he resigned.

Overdue, but better late than never.

Going, going, gone