Monday, October 24, 2016

Win taken, outlook foggy TFC 3 Chicago Fire 2

It was beautiful late October afternoon. Late in the game, when the rays of the setting sun were falling across the south end, your eyes were drawn away from the pitch. You just had to gaze at that sea of red basking in the last gasp of the day's sun. The pitch only suffered in comparison to the sunset glow, it was in solid shape. A rich green carpet of real grass that is putting a lot of stadium share fears to bed.
 I would have been the first TFC fan to bleat and complain if the (beyond an afterthought) Argos had hurt the playing surface this season. With only the Grey Cup to schedule around as TFC trundle into the playoffs, it seems that throwing a CFL team onto the playing surface worked for year 1. A schedule that keeps the games apart was always going to be the way to go and a November when the weather turns and playoffs could prevent spacing has been avoided with the Argos failing to reach CFL playoffs.

a glimpse at October sunset glow

I do prefer the 4 pm starts, it allowed for a family meal in Parkdale after the game yesterday.

The game did not match the beauty of the sunset or the autumn air . TFC fell behind fairly early, tied it up before the half, played well and took a 3-1 lead but could not hold it and allowed Chicago a late goal. TFC = Fire beaters. More on that later.

Back to the beginning and the formation. Vanney went with a 3-5-2.
A back three of Hagglund, Moor and Zavaletta
Morrow and Beitashour as wingers.
 Cooper, Bradley and Osorio in the middle.
Giovinco and Altidore up front.
The second half subs were Ricketts for Altidore and then both Johnson and Cheyrou for Cooper and Osorio (after Osorio had scored his goal).

I found plenty not to like in this formation. TFC is known to be vulnerable to a high press and it is even worse when Hagglund and Zavaletta are forever with the ball at their feet. Morrow and Beitashour, notably in the first half, were always wide and forward. Those two young defenders (H+Z) were stranded with a Chicago player coming right at them time after time. I feel that Michael Bradley is just as likely to assume that they can't move or pass their away out of the pressure and rather than creating a forward option, he is poised to get back and defend after the give away. Another reason why I see Bradley as our future central defender paired with Moor (or is he Europe bound?).

Jozy Altidore was not contributing at the same level that he had displayed in Montreal last week. No surprise he was the first player subbed.
Giovinco scored on a pk, but it was his assist on Justin Morrow's goal that was the highlight. Control, persistence and awareness. He had it all.

And so ends Season 10 and a knockout home playoff game versus Philadelphia Union awaits Wednesday evening.

I am a fan and truly hope that TFC can find another gear, another mode and roar through the playoffs and win the Cup. Yet, beating Chicago, the worst team in the MLS this year, by one goal in your final home game of the season is not exactly setting the world on fire, it it? Since losing to Montreal here in Toronto at the game during the CNE, just what has TFC accomplished? They lost Giovinco to injury that night and they struggled since, drawing (4 games) and losing (2) and only beating Chicago twice in September and October. They were in the hunt for the Supporter's Shield and first place in the East going into that Montreal game. They finish in third, a point behind NYCFC and four points behind NYRB. By holding themselves to two months only defeating Chicago (twice) they left 14 points squandered. Playoff power is truly needed now. Bundle up...

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