Thursday, May 19, 2016

#TFC tactics lacking TFC 1 NYCFC 1

This was the midweek game that I  had calculated would be the cure for the home game on the weekend past. That shoot out loss to Vancouver had to be one of those aberrations, one that you wanted TFC to quickly put behind them. I blamed the Saturday night blue shorts worn at home, of course, and was pleased to see them take the field all in red.

A nicer weather night than expected

If the prime objective of last night's match versus NYCFC was to return to a calmer, cleaner condition in your own end following that Whitecap onslaught (allowing 4 goals in one game when you had given up a total of 7 goals in the previous 9 games) you have to give TFC some credit. Other than one lapse, the combo of poor marking (Beitashour's side) and a flash of great skill from NYCFC's Poku, TFC looked solid in the back. I am not thrilled with how pulled back Bradley and Johnson play. If TFC are playing a 4-3-3, then having two holding midfielders tends to strand those ahead of them (Endoh, Chapman, Babouli and Giovinco). The Vanney era TFC has always used the fullbacks to take the ball up the wings, but it would be nice to own the middle of the middle.

If the secondary objective was to demonstrate that TFC is developing a multi-player attack and can score goals despite injuries to Altidore and Osorio, they get minimal credit in that area. It's frustrating to watch the fundamentals of attacking soccer go out the window. TFC had control of the second half, but when it comes to finishing or even getting into position for a shot, they either fade away or get in the way of each other. Mo Babouli got the start as striker and plays wide (his preference or coach instructions to keep him out of Giovinco's hair?). But if your striker is wide and playing crosses into the box, who is he sending them too? One of the basics of interchanging roles on the pitch is that if player "A" takes the role of player "B", then player "B" becomes player "A". Jay Chapman or Tsubasa Endoh should have been exploiting those near post channels as Mo Babouli took to the wing.

Any MLSE bean counter reading this will wonder about my musings about on field efforts and tactics. This is MLSE running the starship TFC and selling tickets is always the sole goal. A sellout for a midweek game, with the Jays in town and the Raptors on a historic playoff run, has probably inspired smiles and fist pumps.

I find myself looking at Coach Vanney with greater respect these days. Here is a coach, late in the game and needing a goal, looking at a bench of defenders Hagglund, Perquis, Zavaleta, Ashtone Morgan and Mark Bloom, the keeper Quillan Roberts and midfielder Daniel Lovitz. I think that Tim Bezbachenko had better have a move or two up his sleeve. Herc Gomez and Luke Moore (the two vet strikers set free by Tim B.) were not world beaters. They may have had big contracts and old legs, but they had shooting and scoring skills.
This sympathy for Vanney is greatly tempered with frustration as it seems that TFC may never get their attack calibrated. The young players are going to find it hard to develop when the attack strategy does not go beyond getting the ball to Seba Giovinco and let him figure it out with brilliance. A couple of ugly goals to go along with the ugly one from Will Johnson in the first half would have been welcome.

btw The NYCFC goal scorer, Kwadwo Poku displayed a flash of skill when scoring. The sort of skill that the TFC youngsters seem to lack. I had overlooked Poku before last night, figuring that this NYC team was three big paycheques (Villa - who came on a sub, Pirlo - who was seen on the sidelines only and Lampard - seen only on the long term mend) and the remainder were crunchers. At least last year I gave credit to NYCFC for starting the "stop TFC by kicking and tripping Giovinco every chance you get" strategy. Poku is a player to watch...

Next game 5pm Saturday vs Columbus

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