Sunday, August 30, 2015

Let's go to the Ex! Toronto FC 2 Montreal Impact 1

Photo Credit - ZippyR
It was one of those victories that you'll take in a heartbeat. TFC had sections of play were they looked confident and coordinated. They also had a ton of luck on their side. There were too many times when Montreal seemed to be messing up goal scoring opportunites, rather than TFC shutting them down. Recalling 2014 and how many times Oduro could not finish his chances for TFC had us smiling as he continued to mess and miss for Montreal. When he did score late, the thought crossed my mind that the next time Toronto meets Montreal they could be facing Didier Drogba. He could make a huge difference (as would the return of Piatti).
You have to be concerned however that TFC did not finish strong against a Montreal side that was down to ten men AND had lost probably their best defender.

But time to look on the bright side. TFC goal #1 - Osorio to Bradley as they slip a goal by the keeper. TFC goal #2 - This time Bradley to Osorio who thumped one off the cross bar and full marks to Jozy Altidore who turned the rebound into a goal.
Some worrying moments - Cheyrou off with injury, Giovinco off with injury and even Lovitz off for Morgan (injury or tactical?). Then the hanging on at the end - some ghosts of TFC past were hovering in the air.

So that was the final game of August and TFC are in a tie for fourth place with New England. A Red Bulls hosting DC game on Sunday is only going to change the points of teams ahead of Toronto.
Looking back on the months of 2015 so...
March - 3pts from 3 games
April - 3pts from 3 games
May - 10 pts from 5 games
June -  7 pts from 4 games
July - 4pts from 4games
August - 9pts from 6 games

9 games left in the season. To have a better than 50% chance of finishing in 2nd place (and therefore being assured of missing the first round playoff knockout game), TFC would have to finish with 54 points or better (currently 37)
5 games in September (Road Seattle - Home New England - Road NYCFC - Home Colorado Chicago)
4 games in October (Home Philadelphia NYRB Columbus - Road Montreal)
I can see points coming out of September - perhaps even duplicating May and getting 10 points from the 5 games. October looks tough though. If TFC are chasing 2nd place, no better way than actually facing NYRB and Columbus, the two other teams most likely to be battling for that spot.
If I had to predict right now I would say TFC are a playoff team but finishing second seems just a step beyond them. They can really only afford two losses in the rest of the season. On the road in Seattle next weekend may determine expectations. Seba Giovinco will head in the other direction, his callup to the Italian team takes him away for the Labour Day weekend.

I will miss having the EX going on all around the stadium at the next game. The weather was perfect, if winds and temperature were your concern. The skies did become dull as the game wore on, but rain was avoided.
Next home game is New England Sept.13....until then - think red and grey...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

TFC fans given a break from suffering TFC 5 Orlando City 0

TFC supporters have suffered long, hard and deeply. There are too many times when I wouldn't have it any other way. My credentials as a suffering fool/fan are proudly worn. They give my the high ground when observing the bandwagon breezes that buffet our areas sports scene (media and "fans" alike).

If I could I would weave every blog post around my all time favourite Nick Hornby quote.
The natural state of the football fan is bitter disappointment, no matter what the score.
It is a fair observation that the bitter disappointment of such summer escapades as those crushing losses in Los Angeles, Foxboro and New Jersey were not forgotten in the euphoria of yesterday's trouncing of Orlando City.

TFC's second half yesterday was terrific, exciting,  yet exploitive (c'mon, Orlando City had problems holding TFC down earlier in August with 11 men in purple and no Bradley or Altidore. OC reduced to ten, then nine AND Altidore coming on as a sub with his offensive slump the number 1 concern of fan and player alike?). The first half may not have been a fully equal battle, but it did stay 0-0 to the half and Orlando sure looked capable of tussling along. A game plan of negating TFC and hoping for a Kaka late flash of brilliance was not farfetched. TFC land was smiling at the end of the game, but at half time the game/season hung in the balance.

An Orlando aside, Kaka on Toronto's field did not look like a happy camper or a captain. His willingness to complain all afternoon to his team mates just looked too much like Jermain Defoe@TFC circa 2014. Yes, Mr. Kaka, you are 77 times more talented than your fellow players. Yet a large part of your job, as it is a team game, is to bring out the best in others while continuing your own top level contributions. Yapping and gesturing at your own team is just going to turn them off and make your own job harder. The easiest stance to take in soccer is to second guess. You can be a demanding brute in practice, but in games you have to spread around some butter if you want your team to make sandwiches. The thought I had, when he was substituted in the second half, was that part of the reason for the move might have been to protect him from the anger of his fellow players.

TFC next plays Montreal next Saturday. A fear of a competitive Impact team WITH the addition of Didier Drogba hangs in the air. I loved hearing that Drogba will make his Montreal debut this Wednesday night in Vancouver in the second and deciding leg of the Canadian Championship. Please tire him out Whitecaps. TFC needs to start against Montreal as if they were still trouncing Orlando. Full fire power required.

Until then, thinking every day about the Red and the Grey...

Last week TFC dominated by NYRB, this week TFC dominate Orlando (ten men, then nine), happy it happened, but perspective maintained...til next Saturday

Saturday, August 15, 2015

A session of suffering NYRB 3 TFC 0

Suffer, suffer, suffer. What a horrible display.

Last week in my report on the home loss to SKC I called the upcoming game against Red Bulls the next session of suffering.

I was right.

I would have some blunt questions for Coach Vanney right now.

Would playing Jozy Altidore for 90 minutes be an example of faith above observational evidence?

Why does Michael Bradley pass away the ball with alarming regularity? (I am afraid to see a calculation of his passing accuracy for this game).

Why is this team such a mess this late into the season?

What are the consequence for this team, this leadership group (Tim L. and Tim B.), this coaching staff, this franchise if they let a playoff spot slip through their fingers ONCE AGAIN...

I should mention that Warner played a better game than last time, Herculez Gomez provided some spark as a late sub and Josh Williams played a positive role in his first game for TFC.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

What gives? TFC 1 SKC 3

That was a mess. A mess of a Saturday afternoon, fighting the snarled traffic to witness an off day for TFC. Serves us right , perhaps, for thinking that all would be smooth sailing after the conquering of Orlando City. Today's defeat should also be a reminder for those who look upon the home game heavy schedule from here on in as a magic wand of victories. TFC will have to earn their way and based on today... that's not a magic wand, it's a straggly stick.
I am sure that I am not the only one puzzled with TFC tonight. Instead of building on the midweek victory, adding Bradley and Altidore seemed to tear things down. Where did Giovinco go today? The man was on fire just the other night. Is it Bradley who turns Gio soggy? Is it playing alongside Jozy Altidore that brings the moisture that thwarts the Atomic Ant?
I understand that Sporting Kansas City is a stronger team than expansion Orlando, but I am also tempted to make an argument that Benoit Cheyrou does more directing of the attack and midfield patrolling than Michael Bradley of late (admittedly - Gold Cup and injury play the largest part in a lesser Bradley).
Which brings me to Collen Warner. He did not have his best game in TFC red today. He struggled on the ball and seemed pedestrian and predictable in his passing. I understand that he has not been playing at the back of the midfield diamond of  late and would be rusty with Bradley. Sometimes rust is not enough of an excuse.
What was up with the horrible inability to put the ball into the back of the net displayed today? We are hoping that Herculez Gomez can put an end to all that nonsense.
And to finish with an item from our "kick me while I'm down" department - that was Jacob Peterson scoring the third KC goal...

Next session of suffering - next weekend in New York vs NYRB.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

TFC rides into town on explosive Atomic Ant power TFC 4 Orlando 1

the skill, the hunger, the speed and the atomic ant power - Giovinco
The first half of last night's game went as expected. It was 1-1 at the half and both teams looked shaky at the back and tentative in attack. Orlando lacked Kaka in their midfield, TFC playing without Bradley in theirs. Luke Boden was the Orlando player who impressed the most in the early going. He was confident on the ball and scored when he found some space just outside the box. It was also a huge help Orlando that Collen Warner allowed the cross to go untouched to Boden. Cyle Larin was looking strong in the early going, but I think that as Orlando's midfield faded, Larin was not getting the service that he needed.
 Giovinco scored for TFC, luring Collin to lunge big time while the Atomic Ant touched the ball away. It was said best after the game by Orlando coach Adrian Heath (quoted in the report by Simon Veness in the report on
 “It was a ridiculous decision [to challenge Giovinco],” the head coach fumed. “He was out on the byline. He can't score from there. Why [make the] tackle?”
I am willing to give a nod to karma, Aurelien Collin  has been getting away with crimes against TFC while in a Kansas City shirt for years...

The second half was an unexpected delight. Birthday cake under the Christmas tree time. Seba had a hat trick. Second half goals from a free kick and a late zip down the left wing. Not only was Giovinco hungry, eager and determined to put himself into scoring positions all half long, but he had company. The progress of Delgado and Osorio, with the silky and spiky support of Benoit Cheyrou, is a sight to behold.
The central pairing of Perquis and Kantari worked well, but with a dominant midfield in front of them they were rarely pressured. Jackson at right back was fine, I think TFC have found the spot that he can contribute at. It also helps to have Morrow playing on the left, he has struggled going forward from the right.
Karma continued to be in TFC's favour all night - Warner scoring off of Osorio's twist and cross from the corner kick was an example. Warner had squandered a clear goal earlier in the half. 
Kansas City is in town on Saturday. I am not ready to banish fears of the August collapse that has always dogged TFC, but a victory over Sporting Kansas City would be a huge step. If TFC could be that strong v Orlando without Bradley and Altidore... we meet KC at the right time. See you there and then...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

TFC v Orlando preview from OC Lions Fan tv

I might have tried writing a few game previews for this blog back in the dawn of time (2007). I found that this fan's reaction was always better than this blogging fan's prediction, so I let it slide. I also felt that TFC media people were always better at producing a preview from the inside rather than my guesses from the outside.

But each team has it's own social media sphere and the good guys who do OC Lions Fan tv were kind enough to invite me onto their video blog to talk TFC. It is on youtube and you can go to it here.

They have invited me to participate again as Orlando plays TFC twice this month. They know their team and were great to talk to....

Also since I am linking and praising... I do refer in the show to TFC's history of floundering through the summer. A better job of explaining what August onwards has meant throughout the years was done by Sven87 over at Waking The Red.  A sobering read...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Revolting... Revs 3 TFC 1

How I wish we all could ignore New England owner Kraft
What a revolting mess.

I am trying to pull up enough memory cells to recall a summer where TFC did not stumble and falter. Right now the concern is defending on the road (allow 4 goals or 3 goals is the pattern) and I am sick of hearing about the "wealth" of home games and games in hand ahead. Yes, Bradley and Giovinco back on the pitch will make a difference. It is hard this morning to be optimistic about the missing ingredients when the remainder of the roster looks as bad as last night.


Jozy Altidore gets thrown out of the game in the first half with a petulant kick out.

Joe Bendik had an off night, Revs goal 1 and 3 would have been stopped by Bendik 2012.

Gerry Dobson


TFC goal - Osorio finds great space after Chapman and Delgado combine to work the ball deep down the wing.

Jon Conway gets tossed from the bench for telling the truth about that AWFUL yellow card issued to Joe Bendik.

The game is over and the torture does not resume until Wednesday night. Let's see, Gio with an injury, Bradley with an injury, Altidore out due to red card. It will be hard to make your way to BMO Field with your faith in Robbie Findley turned up high.

Brace yourselves, August is going to be a bumpy ride...