Friday, March 31, 2017

Home Opener 2017 T FC 0 SKC 0

Missed the home opener for the first time ever, but caught the Fox broadcast delayed the next day.

As I always value the eyewitness report over the filtered through TV version, I offer the highlights from our ace reporter Trout.

Freezing at the half. 0-0, wind playing havoc. Edwards has been great. Kc had most of first 20. After, Sebastian and Vasquez dropped back just ahead of Bradley. Good time on the ball and more chances. Seba ranging all over the field. Looks promising for second half. Osorio trying out for Argos kicker, missed the net incredibly high three times. Irwin slipped on a wet pitch coming for a ball, went down awkwardly. Subbed out. Is Bono the first choice keeper forever now?
0-0 final. Lots of chances. No joy. Seba put a free kick off the woodwork. Bono had a great stop. A good game, but they still are lacking finish. Edwards had a great second half too, in for Morrow.

Now that I'm home and warmed up I can tell you it was the same ref from the cup final. Forwards didn't get much in the way of fouls against. In other words, the old rude referee songs still apply.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

West coast road victory Whitecaps 0 Toronto FC 2

Although TFC came back west to my winter time zone, I did not travel to this one. If travelling from Tucson to Salt Lake City put me into the lunatic fringe, travelling from Southern California to Vancouver would have put me under observation. Or at least have bent both travel plans and matrimonial harmony.
So this weekend found me watching the game on my iPhone, from some mystery stream, while in a lawn chair at my camp site in Morro Bay State Park. Just for the weather envy crowd, high today was 19 C, down a bit to 18 C at time of writing. The sun has been making steady afternoon appearances after a mostly cloudy morning.
Now I am usually hesitant to share much when going off of a televised game. Amplify the hesitation when squinting at a phone screen.
It was wonderful to witness Toronto FC take advantage of a player being sent off. 2016 seemed to be the year where other teams laughed about going down in numbers against Toronto. Let's hope we have killed that for the new season.
Jozy Altidore continues to be a scoring star. Both his assist on the Vasquez goal and his own goal where examples of his making the most of the smallest of opportunities. No wonder defenders spend so much of their time wrestling with him.
So the three game road trip prior to the home opener ends with Toronto FC holding onto FIVE points and rolls into the end of March undefeated.

Plus a road victory grabbed while Giovinco recovers and rests up for BMO.

So I end with a shout out to some of the wonderful ladies in my life. To Sadie Tess, daughter extrodinaire, who will be sitting in the Kennedy seats in section 220 come the last Friday night in March (her being there cheers me up when I get gloomy about missing my first home opener) and Hindy, travelling superstar and Jozy fan who understands that devoted fan and blogger is not something I can turn off just because the California sun is shining.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A continent span away - Philadelphia 2 TFC 2

From the blogger/fan perspective, it was a week's journey from the heights to the depths.
Week 1 had me in the stands at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Week 2 found me in greater Los Angeles, fiddling with my ipad and finding wonky streams of the telecast out of Philadelphia. I understand that it was cold in Philadelphia. That might explain why my screen kept freezing.
So my usual hesitation to blog and expound upon a team's or player's performance from watching a televised game is amplified by the technical glitches.
It was good to see TFC score again. I felt that the first Philly goal was a moment of skill from the Union's Simpson. Getting his head onto a low cross was a surprising move. The second goal seemed to be a combo disaster. Not thrilled with Cooper's giveaways, he tries to dribble through impossible scenarios and expects too many calls. In the sequence prior to Philly scoring that second goal I felt that perhaps too many TFC players were expecting the foul call that never came. Then Sapong was allowed to saunter and Irwin came out towards the ball and then hesitated. Better to dive, attempting to get your hands onto the ball and miss, than not dive at all
The Giovinco injury has me thinking the TFC needs an enforcer. Cheyrou and Perquis in recent years have provided that grit. Now you can wipeout Toronto's star and play on with impunity. 

Early days in the season and TFC have a point from both road games. I am not hitting the panic button and the Giovinco injury could have been worse.
Rays of hope, but points to worry about.

Next weekend I am still in California and to make watching the Vancouver game (and blogging) a greater challenge, we are tent camping in a state park. Morro Bay is right on the Pacific Ocean in central California.
Stay tuned, the whitecaps I encounter may not be in uniform.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tiny, first steps on the long road RSL 0 TFC 0

It was great to be basking in the sunshine at a Toronto FC game today. We may have been skipping out on much of Ontario's winter this season with our trek through the southwest, but an offseason is still an offseason and it felt great to see the team take the field.
The stadium was Real Salt Lake's and the sunshine was beaming through the Utah air, but the season was on.

First half corner from Seba

Coach Vanney has been quoted musing about the process the players have to go through, the adjustments that must be made when playing your new season games while your head is still wrapped up in bouncing back from that Cup loss. Might be fair to say that fans and bloggers have their own process.
TFC took a point on the road today against a historically tough western conference opponent. Many a year such a result from the first game on the road would have been embraced as good news. I think instead fans (and players?) want a resounding smash victory. A game that will be the one that we wish had been presented as what TFC could achieve on that December Cup Final night.

Today was not that game.
Jozy Altidore and Seba Giovinco more concerned with pleading for calls that just weren't going to come than combining and creating.
Michael Bradley sitting back as Drew Moor's wall, shutting Toronto's door instead of destroying RSL's. 
Wrestling a point from RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium was efficiency, not banishing the wounds left from December.
I was impressed with Victor Vazquez's 30 minutes of play after coming on as a substitute. Still hard to decide what is TFC's best midfield alignment or starters, but Osorio is going to have a battle for playing time.

Let me sleep. I leave Utah in the morning, heading back to California via Nevada. Not sure if I can blog about the next games as it could be difficult to find them. Stay tuned.

On the brink of a new season and in the shadows of mountains

I'm in Utah!
driving north on Interstate 15,  for hours...

Tomorrow is the first game of Toronto FC's 2017 season and as usual Toronto begins the year with road games. Game 1 vs Real Salt Lake Saturday March 4th at 14:30 Mountain Standard time.
We have tickets and will be in the stands. The East Stands upper deck. Probably not on camera during the broadcast, but what else in new?

This was not part of some master plan. My wonderful wife and I have long been fans of the American Southwest and left Ontario in December to spend our first snowbird winter in Arizona and California.

Then the MLS schedule is released and that TFC season opener in Sandy, Utah looks attainable. We knew that we would be in Tucson, Arizona for the final days of February, so the March 4th date worked. Arizona is the next state south of Utah, so just hop over and see our TFC in action.

Back east, the state next door is a skip and a jump. The western "state onto the next state" drive, the leaving of Tucson on one morning - the Flagstaff to Salt Lake City the following is a scenic wonder (and a butt numbing marathon). Worry not, scenic fans, we took a break day and peeked at the Grand Canyon on our day off of the northern drift.

So here we sit in our hotel the night before Game 1 2017. 
Stay tuned. Will I change overnight from a travel geek and back into a TFC fan deluxe? As I said, stay tuned.