Thursday, October 27, 2016

Still kicking MLS Cup playoff edition TFC 3 Philadelphia Union 1

I tell you, it felt strange walking down Atlantic Avenue towards the bright lights of BMO Field pre-game last night. TFC hosting a playoff game had never happened before. For a decade TFC soccer games in this city followed, for the most part, a simple schedule pattern. Night games were reserved for the hot weather months, afternoon games for the spring and autumn dates. In 2010, we got a sneak preview of cold, dark soccer by the lake when the MLS Cup was played in Toronto (Dallas vs Colorado - I would have to dig into the research to recall why we had two western teams in the final..). The Cup setup has changed since then and the only way for BMO Field could host the Cup was if TFC were the top seeded team of the the last two standing.
May I live to see that day...

Last night was crisp, cool on the brink of cold. Since TFC came into being, when the weather got this cold, we were at home. Sitting by the fire, under blankets, slippers on, reading a book and dreaming of spring. It was rare to continue following MLS Cup playoffs since sports tv in these parts would make the MLS vanish...

TFC reached this round last year in Montreal. It was the dreaded knockout round. TFC had me nervous and worried. They have not been world beaters for the past two months and what if they started slow and fell behind early? Could team and fans combine and put the haunting collapse in Montreal alone in the history books?

All night long the team put my worries to rest. They can score. They can defend. Irwin is ready to make the solid saves. They can put teams away. Coach Vanney still drives me a little crazy with his 6-2-2 formation, but if that is the recipe for playoff success, I can live with it.

I have been less than thrilled with Michael Bradley of late. I still feel that he plays as if paired with Drew Moor as central defender and thereforeTFC requires a midfielder that can play in front of him. Yet Bradley had a big game last night. His passing was good, he held the ball well and his tackles (except for the one that drew the yellow card) were hard but well aimed. I thought that Osorio and Cooper played a strong game in the midfield to make TFC's attack still viable and Altidore and Giovinco supplied.
So TFC now face NYCFC, in Toronto this weekend, off to Yankee Stadium the next.
The time of the Sunday game in Toronto has not been determined, but peeking ahead at the next round and the MLS Cup, it seems that night games are what lies ahead. May we walk down Atlantic Avenue on cold nights a few times more in the weeks ahead...


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

Long lost cousin Adrian here. I have always kept up on reading your posts, and they are exceptional as always.

I'm afraid that nobody is addressing reality in regards to NYC fc. Their dps have won world cups, eurpean cups, and multiple champions leagues and every domestic trophy in Spain, Italy and England. I think winning is something that you must learn and know how to do. In afraid that TFC sorely lacks that prior knowledge, especially relative to NYC. I hope for the best tonight, but am sadly fully expecting a very anti-climactic return to earth from Wednesday's euphoria, with a very loud, though painfully silent thud when we got the ground tonight.

Mark Kennedy said...

Great to hear from you Adrian ! I was afraid that I was being too negative, glad that you shared your worries. I am only partially able to share them though.

I think that reality, the learning to win factor, does fade with the parade of birthdays. Pirlo at 37 and Lampard at 38 may not boss the game as they did in days of yore.
David Villa is ALWAYS a threat to score and Moor and Bradley had better be paired up to negate him all day long. Remember away goals hurt in the two game series.

If I were Vanney - I would start the day with Johnson and Cheyrou in the midfield to clog the midfield and play physical all night long, notably in the early going when Pirlo and Lampard are fresh. If Will and Benoit don't pick up a yellow each, they weren't trying hard enough. NYCFC has played rough with Giovinco in the past. TFC should try to beat them at their own game.
Then in the late going Osorio, Cooper and/or Ricketts to add speed and scoring when NYC are tired.

I am a little worried, but I think that TFC can win tonight, even another 3-1 victory. TFC going to Yankee Stadium with a cushion is a recipe for success.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're correct!

Sorry about my grammar. Darn autocorrect.