Thursday, June 2, 2016

Jack calls it "closing out the quarter" TFC 4 Montreal 2

Watching the Raptors this season, one aspect of play that was always under the scrutiny of Jack Armstrong (NBA tv analyst "extrordinaire" in my books) was how they played at the end of any quarter. "Closing out the quarter" is what Jack would bring our attention to. Don't squander a lead and allow your opponent back into the game in those final minutes. The Raptors struggled with it often and often it was the second string players, too thrilled with scoring opportunities and a comfy lead, that would let things become lax at the defensive end.

Wow. Time to apply Jack Armstrong to TFC soccer (both Bismack Biyombo and Lucas "Bebe' Nogueira of the Raptors were shown on the big screen in attendance last night - that would be a striker pairing). TFC looked strong and smooth for the first 84 minutes last night. Seeing two goals from Jonathan Osorio and two from Jordan Hamilton was thrilling. TFC has been struggling to score in recent weeks and a 4 goal night was fully beyond expectations. 
The return of Benoit Cheyrou was the tonic the midfield had been requiring. His passing and his dribbling, his vision and positioning were all top level. Good games from Beitashour and Morgan, the central pairing of Hagglund and Zavaletta was fine, keeper Irwin with very little to do, all aspects seemed under control.

Then they failed to close out the quarter. Montreal scored two late goals that suddenly make their burden easier on the second leg of this semi-final.
It is smart to try to avoid the second-guessing, hindsight assisted, Monday morning quarterback sort of blogging style. So I gingerly put some of the blame on Coach Vanney. Sure, you want fresh legs late in the game, but two Toronto FCII players onto the wings? And Jay Chapman on for Benoit Cheyrou? Didier Drogba was still on the pitch and it was clear that Montreal was not throwing in the towel as long as they were playing Drogba.

It seems to be a self imposed hex that either vanishes or intensifies with the first goal in Montreal next Wednesday. The view that TFC will jump out with scoring next week is hopeful in the extreme. Montreal were missing many starters last night, more due to international duty than injury. Montreal played the entire second half down a man following the red card to Bernier late in the first half.
So TFC in Montreal have to score the first goal and then close out the quarter.


Smallish crowd, biggish game

No comments: