Methinks that Toronto FC are in the midst of a painful awakening. As much as it stings to say it, the Columbus Crew might be the perfect team to administer such an awakening.
2015 ended with Columbus hosting and losing the MLS Cup. Then they followed that with not even making the playoffs in 2016. So the Crew know well that attaining post-season heights does not magically transfer to the next year.
Right now Toronto are playing as if it does. Taking the first half lead, off of a beautifully headed goal by Jozy Altidore, just seemed to open the door to smugness. The Crew scored twice in short order and never looked back.
TFC just can't afford to allow two quick goals when their ability to score seems limited. I have not looked at any stats, but did Giovinco have a shot at all in this game?
I put my bias on the table, I think Benoit Cheyrou is the best thing since sliced baguette. He needs some playing time. I would shift Michael Bradley back to central defender until the (hopeful) return of Drew Moor. TFC depends far too much on the scoring prowess of Gio and Jozy and tries to coast along on a nonscoring midfield (my least fave stat of 2016, Osorio scored one goal, Michael Bradley scored one goal). No wonder teams smother the TFC forwards, Toronto has no offensive plan B.
I worry about this coming homestand. Chicago Fire with Bastian Schweinsteiger, then Houston, then Orlando. Remember that Columbus, Chicago and Orlando did not qualify for the playoffs in 2016, so a rise in their quality, plus the strength of expansion team Atlanta, means a rougher road for TFC
I worry about May with two games against Columbus and road trips to Seattle and NYRB.
Toronto may know by June if they are the "Beast of the East" that they thought they were or if they are a team that will struggle to make the playoffs.
I know that the first loss of the year should not unleash such a gloomy outlook, but it seems like it is sink or swim time down by the lake.