Thursday, July 14, 2016

Always take the road point Crew 1 TFC 1

It was not a recipe for sustained fame, style and glory, but it got us through the evening.

Combine a first half of effective, with flashes of slapdash,  sit back defending. Add in a young keeper named Bono, who is showing signs of confidence. Blend in a second half where TFC looked on the edge of a total collapse in the minutes just after allowing the Columbus goal. Drop in a moment of Cheyrou to Jay Chapman with the through ball to Jordan Hamilton that becomes the TFC goal and highlight of the night. Chapman, Endoh and Hamilton all deserve to mentioned as positive ingredients. The defending of Moor, Williams and then later on Hagglund, were all positive ingredients too.

You have to worry about Osorio (two golden scoring opportunities missed) and Mark Bloom (very sure from my tv screen that he kept everyone onside on the Columbus goal).

I was saddened to read the news that TFC have released Damien Perquis. He brought style and fire to Toronto and was a favourite player of mine.
I have blogged before that a central defending role is a hard one to make an instant success with in the MLS. He arrived in 2015 and at first you guessed the plan was he learn the ropes alongside the veteran Caldwell. That lasted only a handful of games as Caldwell retired and moved to the front office. 
I hate salary cap decisions - I think that faces and names build a sense of team. The TFC history is less one of team and more one of revolving door. On the soccer side I understand the argument that Perquis' spot on the field could be filled by Williams or Zavaletta or Hagglund or even a healthy at last Clement Simonin. This is just looking at the TFC roster, TFCII could be ready to provide MLS capable defenders. 
Yet, none of those players play yet with the Perquis passion. A player who can pass the ball forward with amazing precision one moment and then teeter on the edge of red card the next. 
I will miss him.

Damien Perquis TFC 2015, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Giovinco "torn shirt" blues - TFC 1 Chicago FIre 0

Seba mad like Hulk...

You can understand the frustration that Seba Giovinco must feel. He is in a scoring slump and the Toronto injury trend (notably Bradley, Johnson and Altidore) increases the pressure on him to lead the team's attack. Seba tries and tries, but the goals continue to elude him. I would like to see him eliminate his talking to the ref about the grabbing and grappling he must endure. The chatter throws him off of his game.

You can also understand the relief opposing teams must feel to encounter Toronto during this section of the schedule. Double/triple cover Giovinco and dare the remainder of the TFC squad to score against you. Toronto had the Morrow goal early, but you had the sense for too long that Chicago could catch a lucky break at any time and find themselves back in this game.

So TFC fans wake up this morning with a sense of unease. Toronto takes the victory but what the hell is going on with this team? Squeaking out a home win against a Chicago Fire team (that has not had a victory on the road in eons) should not be part of the summer success plan. This team needs a winning streak and an improved goals for stat. Get somebody else scoring and Giovinco will find his place again.

Where would TFC be without Cheyrou? He is forever shutting counter-attacks off of TFC giveaways. Delgado and Osorio seem to be on the road to nowhere when it comes to passing or dribbling. I look at the passing stats the next morning and feel mystified. Their stats look stronger than their contributions feel on the night. I am always thinking that Tsubasa Endoh shows the most movement and promise out there and he is always the first midfielder taken off the field.

I should salute the clean sheet for Alex Bono - the goal of bringing down the TFC goals against column seems to make steady progress even with keeper Irwin injured. 
Looking this unpolished at home makes road victories seem improbable. TFC play Wednesday in Columbus and next weekend in San Jose. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

TFC 1 Seattle Sounders 1

Canada Day weekend glow

The TFC (MLSE) front office deserves credit for throwing a top quality party yesterday. Pre-game they booked the Muzik club, located just west of BMO Field. Food and liquids were fantastic. The Italy-Germany Euro 2016 game provided gripping entertainment. At first I was going to write this as a postscript - but then I reflected that I arrived at the stadium on such a (MLSE purchased) gin and tonic glow that my integrity forced me to place it at the fore. The party was a fan thank you/ 10 year celebration, but I am campaigning for a TFC get together every Canada Day weekend. 

It was a treat to be at a game again (even though the home leg against Vancouver was only June 21st). I think that overdosing on Euro 2016 tv games and the two televised TFC games (Orlando and Vancouver) had me forgetting how much I enjoy seeing what I want to see, not what the camera shows me.

Overall, we have to be unhappy with getting only one point. It was a tie that felt like points lost, not gained. Hard to decide whether it was promising that TFC had so many faces missing (Irwin, Moor, Bradley, Altidore, Johnson, Morrow either injured or on the bench) and still looked strong or has Seattle fallen so hard they make everyone look better?

The formation took some adjusting to, both as a spectator and it seemed for the players. It looked a 3-5-2 most of the time.
A back three of Zavaletta, the return of Damien Perquis and Nick Hagglund was a new combination. This trio held up well, with the exception of losing their minds on the Seattle goal. I am a fan of Perquis, although that does not make me blind to his flaws. He can be rash or impulsive with the ball in his own box. I think vs Seattle was the first time we have seen Perquis without Moor by his side this year and that is an experiment I would end. I suppose that would end the three across the back then.

The two wingbacks were the long awaited return of Mark Bloom and Beitashour. I felt that Bloom was on the invisible side most of the night. Perhaps it was due to the lack of support behind him. Hagglund as a left side player seemed new and it might have been too much to expect chemistry after such a lengthy layoff. I don't recall Bloom playing at all in 2015 and we are months into 2016. 
The youngster central midfield of Delgado, Endoh and Chapman took time to gel. I thought that Chapman's passing was crisp and he took defenders on down the channels too. Endoh improved as time went on. I did not think that Delgadcomfortable in a central holding role. He was too stationary when the TFC back three had the ball. I worry that he has not made a study of Bradley and Cheyrou over the months and months. A few decisive steps or a looping run so that defenders can play the ball to space or your feet and you see the field ahead always seemed to be either missing or too many steps to get to for Delgado. I know he is young and has both talent and potential, but I don't see him, YET, as a natural candidate for a future first team role.

In the second half it seemed that play down the middle were long balls, bypassing Delgado or play down the left wing using Beitashour and Endoh. Delgado might have picked up some scraps from passes back into the middle, but he never seemed to be the true playmaker. I disagreed with Vanney taking Chapman and Endoh off and moving Delgado forward in the midfield, supported by Cheyrou and paired with Osorio - that it did not produce a late goal was zero surprise...
Up front was Jordan Hamilton and Seba Giovinco. Hamilton is playing with greater confidence and his goal was a reward for a night of effort. When you consider how quickly Seattle bounced back with a goal, I hope that a TFC coach has had a talk with Hamilton regarding his post goal celebration (he went so far into the supporter section I feared for a second that he was going to order a hot dog and a beer).
I was hoping the Seba Giovinco would be in such turmoil over Italia bowing out of the Euro 2016 on penalties that he would score 4 goals for TFC as the start of his campaign for World Cup selection for the Azurri. Perhaps he was too intent on scoring his goals all on penalty kicks. He needs to stop fighting with refs about the treatment he gets from defenders. It does not enhance his game.

July beckons. Of the next 7 games, five are at home. The road games are stuck together, a Wed. night in Columbus followed by a Saturday in San Jose. TFC need a returning Altidore and some wins for the month to take the sting out of missing Bradley, Johnson and Irwin for this next stretch. Stay tuned.