Monday, September 21, 2015

Rapid return to pop and bite, can it continue? TFC 3 Colorado 1

A blur at the far end, Perquis just after scoring
First off, apologies for this days later post concerning the Saturday game. I am one of those older guys who still attends music festivals and this past weekend was the third TURF festival at Fort York - Garrison Commons. TFC game started at 2pm - Lucinda Williams on stage at 4:10, I had to be in two places at once. Due to weather concerns I did not have my tablet with me and therefore did not share my TFC thoughts while grooving to tunes.

I am going to be one of those guys - when their team loses it is due to deep flaws on HIS team. When their team wins it is due to deep flaws on the opposing team. The Colorado Rapids looked awful in the first half on Saturday. The first Seba Giovinco goal was the perfect example. He picks up the ball near the midfield stripe and no Rapid is tracking back or defender moves to close him down. This continues as Giovinco strides forward. He actually had the time and space to slow down, look around and consider his options as he approached the box.  Just what were the Rapids thinking? Give the Atomic Ant enough time and space and he will score. Same with goal two. It was nice to see Damien Perquis score his first (non-own) goal of the season. I do think he gets too much criticism. Sure, he is on the hook for some defending mistakes. That is the price you pay for plying your trade in the heart of the battlefield.
So, we fans have to be ultra pleased / relieved with the win. Continuing the losing streak could have been a disaster of playoff struggle, coach questions and player turmoil.
I don't yet trust TFC 2015 to claim that the Colorado victory will act as a springboard for the weeks ahead. I am concerned with the next two games- home against Chicago and Philly. Two victories are required for any shot at hosting the knockout playoff game. They have to be foot to the floor style wins to gather that season end momentum. The Red Bull game on Oct. 14th could be the toughest test of the year. The Columbus Crew game that follows it will be a proto-playoff game. I just don't want to be in the spot of TFC needing some points from the season ender in Montreal.

I had tried to justify the loss to New England by thinking that the Revs and the Red Bulls were rising to the top two spots in the East and were just too tough for Toronto. Then, this weekend, Montreal beat New England 3-0. Sure, it is the Drogba effect and Montreal have a tough schedule ahead of them. Still they worry me.

Until the next game, keep the grey and red flying...

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

No pop, no bite, no style, no grace, no hope, no bench, no coach, no goals - NYCFC 2 TFC 0

"If future seasons involve increasing games vs TFC, we can play to 50"

TFC just look terrible in Yankee Stadium tonight (mostly in the attacking third). You felt that Altidore and Osorio would never score again this season based on their sloppy play in NYC. Bradley was all wild effort and NYCFC muscle Giovinco again and again.
I thought that last home game Bradley was missing Cheyrou. Cheyrou was back tonight, but it seemed to make no difference. Defending and goal keeping are ok. TFC takes care of business in their own end most of the time. The problem is that the attack does not deliver and that is what they get the big bucks for...
What was the point of putting Gomez and Moore on late in the game? No attacking spark was provided. Was Perquis put out as a late sub to take down a few numbers and crunch a few toes? Will Kantari get into trouble for that smack to the face (of Angelino?)?

I might take the view in the morning that NYCFC have become Toronto's bogey team. The team we just can't beat.

More likely that I will still be stunned that a new expansion team (with a trio of old stars, Villa did not play tonight) has beaten TFC twice and drew them once.

It is hard to be optimistic about playoff spots when you can't imagine winning against anyone. I can imagine that the teams out of the playoff picture see the faltering TFC as vacating a playoff spot to them. A three game losing streak was not what September was supposed to bring.

Tim B. and Vanney had better align their "must win game" comments for Saturday. If the hopeless streak hits 4 - look out.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wondering if lacklustre is a harsh enough term for this sad display? TFC 1 New England Revolution 3

Photo by Evy - from Toronto FC fans Facebook page

TFC managed to match the crappy September weather with a low pressure display against New England.
How could New England make the most of a handful of scoring opportunities while Toronto blustered and blew? It was an afternoon of watching TFC squander scoring chances. They just don't look like a team on the rise (or a team on the steady).
Could they be suffering from a lack of urgency or too much of the stuff?
It is also becoming clear that subs off the bench add zero, TFC never has another gear.
Toronto looked second best all day long.
That was a big game against a New England team only three points ahead of TFC in the standings. Remember all those home games in September and October that were going to help the playoff push?
Today was game 1 of that season end home game bonanza. Forgive me for the rainy day gloom, but today did not look like a home stretch bonanza to me.

A bounce back from this solid loss is possible. They could win the next three and end September on a high. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that New England is very capable of finishing in a top two spot and dust ourselves off. Sleep calls - more tomorrow

Monday, September 7, 2015

Late Night West Coast strange brew Seattle 2 TFC 1

Forgive me. It is days later and I am still trying to wrap my head around the TFC news from the Labour Day weekend. Jozy Altidore scores two goals for the USA in a friendly on the same weekend that Toronto FC lose by one goal to Seattle? Clint Dempsey scores the winning goal for Seattle? Am I crazy to think that somebody needs to be grilling the Garber man on this mess.  The need for MLS to align their schedule to the FIFA international schedule only grows with the years.

I did not watch this game live. Since I am lucky enough to have a Labour Day traditional get away (thanks to great friends and their wonderful Kawartha Highlands cottage) I had updates passed along from the family member with cell phone service. I blame my almost radio silence on my Labour Day memories of 2014. TFC alerts and the Nelsen firing and Tim Bez press conferences had my tech devices buzzing away. Getting away to the cottage 2014 had meant skipping that home game (remember Bez's must win game?), the 3-0 loss to New England that so many described as Toronto's worst. All these jumbled memories contributed to deciding that 2015 cottage weekend was going to be info-tech free. Sun and rocks, swimming and beer, chips and laughter, tequila nights under the Milky Way. You came to this blog expecting soccer talk?

Now back home and with highlights and some pvr time, I can tell you this.
TFC were missing - Altidore (international duty), Giovinco (injury taking away his international duty), Morrow (family), Cheyrou (injury), Perquis (injury), Jackson (injury) and Warner (league suspension).
That's two designated players and a handful of starters wiped off the board. It makes you wonder why did TFC bother to have Michael Bradley skip his US duty? Then you read that Bradley is joining Altidore in Chicago for the Tuesday night US friendly vs Brazil. I suppose Capt. Bradley gone for one game is potentially safer than gone for two.

The TFC starters out in rainy Seattle were...
Gomez       Moore         Findley
Morgan Osorio Bradley Delgado
  Simonin Williams Zavaletta

On the bench Bendik, Chapman (subbed in for Gomez at 74), Kantari(?), Hamilton (subbed in for Simonin at 81), Mannella.

I am not usually one to give credit for a close loss on the road. No points from a game in September is going to be a concern in the crowded playoff picture. Yet, with the long trip west behind them, TFC face a season end of 6 home games, and road trips to New York City and Montreal. If the reasoning for the strange alignment and playing depth players was to ensure a fully rested and healthy lineup for the home game next weekend against New England, we fans are all for it. That next home game is huge for TFC. It could help determine whether Toronto is making an October run for a top Eastern playoff spot or scrambling.
Coach Greg Vanney post-game 
Vanney arrives at the Labour Day weekend I'm sure with unique memories of 2014. His cell phone must have been buzzing with more than just scores and news.  A job offer and a press conference invite. One year under Vanney and you don't want to jinx anything by saying that TFC look a year ahead, but in so many ways they do. Giovinco in the place of awol Jermain Defoe is the largest example. There are plenty more (Cheyrou in place of Bradley Orr is my fave).  This rapidly approaching New England home game is Vanney's chance to fully establish his grip on TFC 2015. It needs to be the reverse of Nelsen's last game as TFC coach. A solid victory in Toronto will have all of us forgetting what the Seattle result was and have Vanney in the driver's seat for the playoff push and beyond. A disaster against the Revolution will have the critics wondering just how far Vanney has taken the team.

I can't wait for this rare Sunday game ahead. Just keep Tim Bezbatchenko away from any "must win" statements to the press this week and keep thinking red and grey...