Momentum? It was as if the thrilling game before never happened. I am ready to rant and rave. This is your warning, run away if you can't stomach bleating...
Have we TFC fans not suffered enough? The churning, rollercoaster nature of supporting this team never fails to amaze me. Ask me Wednesday night which MLS team in the East wants to meet Toronto FC in the playoffs, my answer would have been "nobody". Ask me again after the Saturday loss to Columbus and the answer changes to "everybody".
The recent Wednesday victory versus New York Red Bulls put Toronto up in second place, their highest spot this late in the season, ever. The first opportunity they had to give second place away, they did.
In front of the home crowd to close out the regular season in Toronto.
Sure, it could be just a letdown after the playoff clinching effort of just hours ago. I am still shaking my head at how frustrating this letdown was to watch. I am toying with the idea that SHOULD TFC reach a home and home playoff round they might be better off being the lower seed team and get their home game first and therefore over with.
It is difficult to pinpoint where Toronto went wrong today. The Columbus goals came as lightning surprises, not sustained pressure. Joe Bendik was in net and I think it's fair to observe that TFC is a playoff team despite their keepers as much as because of their keepers.
TFC had a lot of the play. They just lacked finish and true opportunities. Vanney gets a mixed evaluation from me. I was pleased with going to three forward late in the game and putting both Herc Gomez and Luke Moore, but it was too late. At the start of the game I was also liking the pairing of Giovinco and Bradley as the two forwards. I have said before that I think that Bradley is a more potent, creative player when he is forced into a scoring role rather than a support role. Late in the first half though, either Bradley abandoned the role or Vanney coached a different formation. Findley went from winger to forward, Warner from central holding midfielder to winger and Bradley came back to the midfield. Sorry, but that was a huge step in the wrong direction. It has reached the point where I would rather see Cheyrou and Warner as a pair of holding midfielders, with the occasional probing pass than Bradley mucking up the midfield. I think that Bradley has something to prove to the TFC fans at this point. The last two times that Toronto has beaten an Eastern conference team higher than them in the standings was the other night vs. NYRB and way back in the spring vs. DC United. Both games had the absence of Michael Bradley in common. I don't think that one thoughtful Toronto soccer fan is deciding to renew their season tickets for 2016, right now, based on feasting their eyes on Bradley. A game in Montreal and the playoffs could paint a different picture. I see his skills, his positioning and his effort, but something critical is missing. It may be a coach that pushes and prods
Oh and a word on Marky Delgado. I think that Marky Delgado has potential and will contribute one day. Right now he plays like a junior player, as if his role is to always, ALWAYS defer to any senior player. Y'know "here Mr. Bradley" or "here Mr. Giovinco". He knows his role, we in the stands can predict his role and Columbus defenders sure know not to worry about him. I think he successfully took on a defender only once today. Late in the first half Delgado was wide left at one point and wide open. He was waving for the ball and of course no pass came in his direction. When the other team won't cover you and your own team won't pass to you, something is wrong. A Vanney rush job?
Tony Tchani- am I the only one amazed that he continues his career with Columbus as a starter 4 years after TFC traded him? TFC acquired him from NYRB in the DeRo trade. I admit that Tchani is a factor in my Bradley rant. TFC has a million dollar international top quality midfield general and Columbus has Tony Tchani, a player we dumped 4 years ago. And they win!
Kei Kamara - a small consolation, but if the Crew were going to manage to keep Giovinco off the score sheet, at least TFC kept Kamara from scoring.
Federico Higuain - he made sure that every hint of a foul on him was augmented by rolling around and around on the pitch and then scored a cheeky late goal to squash TFC. Have I mentioned before that TFC is too nice for their own good?
Sigh....playoff picture still to be determined. Montreal@NE tonight, tomorrow Chicago@DC, Philly@NYRB....