Sunday, March 20, 2016

TFC loses to SKC 1-0 - full marks for cohesion and effort, needs to improve on creativity

TFC needed a spark tonight in Kansas City. They lacked finish. It would have been nice to see Tsubasa Endoh score his first goal, he was a goalkeeper finger tip away from that.

They were a team that looked capable of scoring and controlled sections of the game. The effort was there, but ending up down one goal late in the game is not the route to road success. Despite having a man advantage for a time and all three substitutions revealing Vanney's willingness to go all out on the attack. they could not conjure up a comeback.
There was plenty of evidence that improvements have been made. TFC looked strong when defending. They moved the ball well out of the back and did not look like a team just getting to know each other, which they are.

So, the long road trip continues.
3 down and 5 to go before TFC hosts their home opener. If the next three games end up a repeat of the first three, a win, a draw and a loss - a fan could be very, very happy with that. Colorado, New England and DC United don't seem to be as tough a group of opponents than the ones TFC just finished with.

Until the next time...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Points in New York - twice already in 2016

TFC came from 2 goals down to draw NYCFC and continue to gain points from every game in 2016. The rising confidence of Toronto FC seemed to jump out of the tv screen, notably in the second half. When Toronto scored late in the first half to pull within one goal of NY,  I had the gut feeling that TFC was capable of more and NY was incapable of shutting them down. We were treated to a few scary defending moments late in the game, but nothing New York did was any way near to matching the skill and snap of that Giovinco goal that tied the game earlier.

It's so pleasing to salute the TFC performance today in Yankee Stadium. In some ways I am happier with a draw versus NYCFC than I was with with the victory over the Red Bulls last weekend.
NYCFC seem to have had TFC's number last season (NYCFC were new to the league). It might be too early to give them the role of TFC's "bogey" team, but I feared this second game in NY more than the first (I know that NY Red Bulls play out of New Jersey, but you get the drift).
I still have vivid memories of the first meeting of these teams in Toronto last summer. The New Yorkers strategy was a physical one, hack and chop at Giovinco. The ref would not protect Gio and New York took advantage. It was easy to fear another match with TFC being taken advantage of...

The ref got it mostly right today in Yankee Stadium. The penalty call was the correct one. The blind eye to the Villa hand ball in the second goal was dodgy. After that the game was a smooth one.

I thought that Marky Delgado played a strong game down the wing today. There were a few times when I felt that he deferred too often and too much to the scoring potential of the big names around him. Hey, Delgado, you are tied for the second highest goal scorer on the team - so take your shots.

So now it is into KC for the last game of March. The April road games present Colorado, New England,  DC United and then Montreal. I had read that the TFC president Manning had felt that 8 points was a worthy goal from these first 8 road games. 4 points already with 6  games to play makes that bar look too low.
Keep cheering...

Yankee Stadium as a soccer ground.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

2016 Road game #1 vs New York Red Bulls - Oh, one could learn to love this efficiency and attention to defending...

Those frigid and bleak months have rolled by. The winter storms have howled through. The driveway shovelled and shovelled, salted and shovelled again. Dog walks became my offseason interest (when conditions allowed). The calendar tells us that spring is only days away and therefore a new TFC season 2016 must be upon us. Can this be?

Have we tamed the memories of the stunning, stumbling mess of those two games in Montreal that brought 2015 to a close? A long winter of long walks might do that for you. Heartbreak was the theme when we last gathered to cheer for the grey and red. I owe this space a blog to just capture the offseason but allow me to sum up.
Goodbye Joe Bendik and Chris Konopka,  Jackson and Robbie Findley, Luke Moore , Herc Gomez and Collen Warner. Almost forgot Ahmed Kantari..
Hello, hello to Will Johnson, Steve Beitashour, Drew Moor, Clint Irwin and Tsubasah Endoh.
Got it?

A pre-season game or two caught from Florida on somebody's youtube channel gave me a little glimpse of TFC 2016, but it was nothing to blog on about. I have always struggled with blogging about games watched on television. Blah - camera angles are deceptive as they vary from stadium to stadium. Blah, blah - your ability to watch formations or match-ups or developments well off the ball gets compromised. Yet, it will be two more months before we head to our seats (now covered). Oh the tyranny of construction.

Today's game turned out to be a treat, a tonic for the wailing "can't wait for May" true blue TFC fan (did I just use the colour "blue" to describe a fan of the red and grey?).

The first half was clunky and creaky. TFC struggled to find any passing tempo, but their defending held up. Perquis looks better with Moor around and Irwin behind to steady things (I'm a fan of Perquis, but he does have a terrible habit of removing himself from the action COMPLETELY when he makes a claim for offside). The tactic of Bradley well back in the midfield and Giovinco well forward seemed to work. At least I hope it was a tactic, what if it was just a sign that the two of them are not getting along?
2nd half had early signs of good ship TFC battening down the hatches and hoping to hold on for 45. K.J. on the broadcast had it right when he called for Lovitz out and Delgado in on the left side of the field. Once the substitution was made, then the counter-attacks began to click and the goals were scored. TFC winning in New York (technically New Jersey), next weekend they get to try it again with the NYCFC group that treated them badly last year.
2016 TFC off to a great start. There are so many pairings and partnerships that are straight from the factory new on this team (Endoh out to the right with Beitashour behind him, Bradley and Johnson down the middle, Moor and Perquis behind them, Irwin as the new keeper) that you need to expect rust and clunk and setbacks and time to gel. That aspect makes the victory that much sweeter. Thanks for reading...

The roof just up on the south end (some weeks ago)