Monday, June 20, 2016

Enough for now, need more later TFC 1 LA Galaxy 0

The night was as beautiful as June can offer, which is a very high standard indeed. Standards were on my mind as I approached the stadium. A regularly scheduled MLS game in June 2016 is a game played in the shadows. June has been tournament time, both the Euro overseas and the Copa south of the border. A feast of global soccer delights the fan in me, but would a night with TFC be a quality cliff too evident, too steep?
The Copa explains why Michael Bradley is not in TFC red for the night. Giovinco is on our shores and therefore on our turf, but you feel badly for him. Italia looks fine without him, but come the knockout stage you worry about Giovinco being tortured by television. Can he avoid watching a game where his national team needs his offensive talents and he sits cursing as he was never invited to the party?

Back to Saturday night. LA Galaxy were the opponents. They have a historical advantage over Toronto,  clobbering TFC on a regular basis. Saturday night LA seemed muted. Were they faltering or was Toronto dominating? Keane with Ireland at the Euro and Stevie G. nowhere to be seen, we fans of old EPL players had to be happy with DeJong and the ghost of Ashley Cole. How can you be a team named Galaxy when you lack stars?

Toronto's area for looking coherent and team-like is the defending end. TFC's keeper Clint Irwin looked excellent last night. The idea behind acquiring both him and defender Drew Moor from Colorado has held up well. Built upon a keeper and a defender who have played together, TFC's defending end may not shine, but they have reduced the goals against that haunted 2015. They played more of a stay at home style versus LA, so Morrow and Beitashour were rarely caught up the wings.

The Toronto goal was just another defender contribution. Giovinco takes a corner kick late in the game. No breakaway motion in the box, TFC seems to lack players with scoring instincts. So Giovinco overkicks the ball and sends it to the far wing for Benoit Cheyrou. It is almost a TFC tradition to watch players pass the ball to those who they have confidence in, rather than players in scoring position.
Cheyrou wandered with the ball enough that central defenders Zavaletta and Moor, playing forward in the box to act as attackers for the corner kick, seemed to hesitate. It was a good thing they stayed put, Cheyrou sent in a nice pass to Zavaletta who headed it onto Moor and goal was the result.

The lack of a balanced attack has long been a TFC weakness. We are 14 games into a 34 game schedule, so three games short of half way. Trailing Giovinco's 8 goals, TFC has Johnson with 2 and Moor with 2. Delgado and Endoh have one each. Bradley, Altidore, Osorio, Chapman, Morgan, Lovitz, Hamilton, Babouli and Cheyrou are all forwards or midfielders who have yet to score in 2016. With an attack such as that (would it be more stunning, if it was not typical TFC?), your defending has to be incredible. Summer transfer signings (salary cap may not allow much) or trading some defenders (Hagglund, Williams, Bloom?).

Perhaps the heightened urgency of Euro 2016, as a spectator spectacle with every game of top importance to somebody, harmed the Toronto - LA game for me. It was nice to have a victory, but game 14 of 34 with months and months stretching out ahead can seem small. I hope to have the criticisms and concerns seem small too. There is still time to grow and adapt.

June at the soccer stadium...

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