Sunday, August 26, 2018

Victory vs Montreal (TFC 3 Montreal 1)

Last season, that glorious season where almost everything went right, the one glaring game that went wrong was the home game hosting Montreal.
TFC 3 Impact 5 was the final.
I can recall consoling myself that it was late season and here I was grumpy about TFC giving up their first home loss. Losing to Montreal is always capable of putting a TFC fan on the road to grumpy.

I approached last night's game with concern. TFC is chasing Montreal for a playoff spot*. Montreal can derail the Toronto playoff drive, hanging by a thread (those phrases cobbled together for mixed metaphor fans). Did Montreal still have a touch of whatever evil magic allowed them to conquer in that 2017 game?

TFC fans were able to exhale from the start. The first 29 minutes were superb. TFC were playing precise short passes, players were finding spaces and goals were scored. Two for Giovinco and one for Osorio.
Then Montreal scored their goal and Toronto lost the attacking sparkle. The Montreal goal shattered more than the attack. Why did Alex Bono set himself up for the shot from Silva giving away so much space on the short side? I also feel that TFC lacks precisely that sort of attack, the player who will and can score off of a shot from distance.

I understand that shutting down your opponent and protecting a lead is very important, especially against Montreal, the first game after squandering a win on the road in San Jose. It was tense throughout the second half though. TFC went from attack as the best form of defending to relying on Montreal's lack of midfield possession game and lack of potent attack to get them through. A couple of goals called back on offside decisions had us holding our breath. I want to say that TFC is a much, much better team than Montreal. The day after finds me grateful for the victory and the three points, but remain concerned about the road ahead.
Not just last night against Montreal but while down to 10 men for most of the game against NYCFC and the game on the road in Atlanta I have felt that TFC retain their championship quality. Can they do that again and again in the last two months of season 2018? Can they do it for 90 minutes during the tough road games such as Portland or DC or Montreal?

Portland is a late game Wednesday night.

Until then...

* Playoff position update - Montreal and New England both losing last night helped Toronto, yet the two teams to worry most about lately are Philly and DC United. The Union have been a hot team and DC are even with Toronto in points, 27, but have played three less games.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Weak point in California San Jose Earthquakes 1 Toronto FC 1

I continue to experiment with writing my blog as a series of tweets. If you follow me on Twitter @stillkickingtfc , you have already read my blog post. The only problem I see with tweeting is that it lends itself to bad Trump instincts - extra comments as the blog bonus.
Trying to keep my blog within tweet confines. Perhaps it will help my focus and my writing? Simply put, TFC had San Jose Earthquakes down and could not put them away. Lack of urgency! Lack of killer instinct!
No matter how cruel the defensive lapse, you can't argue that it was unusual. Toronto FC season 2018 has lapses aplenty. The attitude at 1 goal up should have been TFC is going to have to win this 2-1. We have seen too many stretches of "hang on and hope"
Those who want TFC to have a clean sheet every game are on a witch hunt!
We rightly praise Osorio and his 8 MLS goals, but you have to be worried about Bradley and Marky Delgado and their ZERO MLS goals. Defending vs Toronto is too simple, swamp Seba and watch for Oso.
I know this and many, many friends have called to tell me I am right!
I still hold out hope that a smashing victory over Montreal Impact next weekend and a winning streak to follow still leaves a flicker of hope for MLS playoffs, a tiny flicker in a windstorm.
If Montreal wins that August game, depend on me to assign blame and deny responsibility, Fake News!
My practical side is pushing me to see the benefits of NOT making MLS playoffs. That would give TFC players November and December to rest and recuperate. CONCACAF Champion's League target #1 for a rested squad.
And Mexican teams will have a wall to contend with!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

TFC road point vs hyped 2nd year team - Atlanta United 2 Toronto FC 2

I thought I would write my blog as if it were a series of tweets.

Not sure how well that surface in Atlanta plays, but on tv it looks like something that my parents bought to cover the backyard patio in the 70's #TFCLive

Delightful goal from #TFCLive in the closing minutes (seconds?) of the first half. Atlanta got overconfident and Altidore, Auro Jr. and Giovinco turned on the quality.

I understand that camera angle from behind the net shows that #TFCLive Bono palmed the ball to his left and therefore it should have not been a penalty. I thought VAR allowed for multiple looks. Ref and VAR seemed to be in a hurry to get Atlanta back into the game.

Very happy that #TFCLive kept going. Clearly Ricketts in, Vazquez off worked. Telfer in, Zavaletta out a brave gamble. Giovinco as attacking midfielder worked too. Osorio cool set up to Ricketts another moment in the Osorio 2018 highlight reel.

I am always urging #TFCLive to show more grit and spine, so I am not going to second guess Chris Mavinga lashing out. I honestly love TFC putting Atlanta in their place. Violence is not the answer, but want to know more about provocation.

Okay, that's it. My blog post = five tweets. 

Thanks for reading - until the next time, keep kicking.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Playoff chase is on - TFC 3 Chicago Fire 0

The back to back victories over the Chicago Fire have given TFC fans reason for optimism for the months ahead. TFC looked like formidable defending champions Saturday night (July 28). A great way to end the month of July, considering how ineffective they looked losing 0-1 to NYRB to begin the month and how few the points they gained in July. Put aside the Chicago games (and the Ottawa Fury games in a different competition) and Toronto gained a single point from the 4 earlier July MLS games. Seems that the Chicago Fire were just what the TFC doctor ordered. The quality of the opponent is less than a tenth of the story, the continued return to health of injured players remains factor #1.

The first half was all muscle, tussle and half scoring chances for TFC. Bastien Schweinsteiger, Chicago star and German footballing legend, played way back as a Fire defender in the first half. He was effective, but I don't think he gets full credit for the 0-0 score at half time. You felt that Chicago was still in a game that they did not deserve to be in. Yes, that TFC feeling was washing over me at that point. Damn, one bad bounce, one lucky shot and the Fire could put TFC under pressure.
Credit to Greg Vanney for the halftime change. Ashtone Morgan came out of the game, he was playing ok, but a left foot on the right wing has never been his spot on the field. On came Marky Delgado. TFC shifted to a 4-4-2. Vazquez in a central role, with Bradley in behind him in a diamond midfield. 
The change in alignment might have been a spark to the greater attack spirit of the second half. Not that it was obvious for the first goal, a scramble that could have come from any formation. I thought that you had to also give great credit to van der Wiel, Mavinga and Zavaletta, the ball was always being played well from the back. Your midfield can supply your strikers with better through balls when they themselves are getting quality situations determined by the defenders. Osorio, Vazquez, Bradley and Delgado were all benefitting. I am cheering for Marky Delgado to rebuild his confidence. I still think he retreats and passes back out of situations that would benefit from him taking on defenders. Their does not have to be a clear path, move into space, draw a foul, bounce the ball off a shin to get a throw in. 
I will blog about the month ahead rather than the game ahead this week.
Keep cheering, thanks for reading...

Thursday, July 26, 2018

TFC quell the Fury TFC 3 Ottawa Fury FC (USL) 0

A balmy summer's night at BMO. The evening sky at sunset may have taken our gaze away from the game from time to time.
This part of the world can be a beautiful place.
TFC never looked worried.
It is so difficult to evaluate young players when they are playing against lower level teams, yet I thought that Liam Fraser played a strong game. I was willing to put aside his strengths on the ball as a case of the other team not pressing enough, but his tackling and ball winning in the midfield impressed me.

To those who fail to admire Marky Delgado, last night was an example of his strengths. He was a large part of why TFC was never worried. The angle of his tracking back, always pushing Ottawa wide, always cutting off passing lanes, was excellent. I can't deny that defending and ball winning is made easier when TFC are playing Morrow and Mavinga.

We now know that the Canadian Championship final opponent will be the Vancouver Whitecaps. It will be a step up in intensity from last night's walk in the park.

Bring them on....

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Road victory leads to summer's first flicker of hope - Chicago Fire 1 Toronto FC 2

Apologies for not blogging during these recent weeks.
My excuse is both travel and World Cup 2018 intertwined.
I travelled to Los Angeles to visit my uncle. He and I have a tradition of watching games together that goes way back (even includes attending a USA1994 Netherlands/Brazil classic in Dallas).

Then I travelled to Iceland with my wife, some of her siblings and their spouses in early July. I had warned all that my availability for lava fields and waterfalls was determined by the World Cup schedule. It was my fond hope that I would get to see Iceland play a knockout round game from Iceland. I dared not hope that England would still be on the stage.

Both my LA trip and my Iceland trip will be the subjects of future blog posts. Just for the record.

For now, let's talk TFC.

They have been so hard to watch. I counted myself fortunate to have missed the goal fest loss to Minnesota and even the draw on the road in Kansas City. Between my travels I had witnessed the 0-1 loss to New York on Canada Day at BMO. I knew that the huge injury list was a constant factor, but frustration was always increasing at the lack of players rising to take advantage of their opportunities. I was home from my travels in time to see TFC on tv lose to Orlando City. I did not blog. Just too jet lagged, tired, annoyed, mad and frustrated.

You might be as tired as I am of hearing that a TFC MLS game was a must game for turning the season around. Too, too many times has that label thrown around and I am sure that it has been contributing to this anger and frustration.

Last night in Chicago, I hope, the tide turned.
TFC attacked from the wings, moved the ball well down the middle, controlled the tempo of the game, shut down the Fire often and welcomed back more players from the injury list (notably Jozy Altidore, Chris Mavinga and Gregory van der Wiel, with Victor Vazquez available off the bench). They looked more capable, more cohesive than they have in months. Oso, Delgado and Bradley all had solid games. The Delgado tackle which lead to Bradley's long diagonal pass which put Giovinco into dangerous territory were all ingredients of that great first goal. Osorio scoring the winner was just another chapter of his storybook season. Yes, Altidore makes the attack smarter, better, more creative, more ambitious.

As players shed injury comeback rust and TFC still welcomes back Drew Moor and Auro Jr. AND the possibility that TFC have summer window moves still to make, the months ahead might turn this hope flicker into a flame. I am hopeful for a bonfire come September and October.

thanks for reading....

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Not a pretty picture TFC 4 DC United 4

(Quickly now) I throw together a bloglet of my thoughts from last night's game with DC United. The World Cup Russia 2018 is about to hit all of us with a tidal wave of games, so I write hurriedly while watching game 1 Russia v Saudi Arabia...
I am still struggling to come towards some grasp of what happened.
Yes, it is possible that TFC felt that DC United were a struggling team and therefore all Toronto had to do was show up and waltz through the game.
Yes, it is possible that the wrong defensive alignment was part of the woeful TFC first half. We could blame the wind. Too many times this season we have seen other teams cut through the Toronto backline like a hot knife through butter. The Zavaletta / Hagglund combo just seems to invite fast attackers to let loose. A healthy Chris Mavinga is required. It was great to see a healthy Justin Morrow get second half playing time. A return to Morrow and Mavinga down the left side and the new combo of Auro Jr and van der Wiel on the right will calm the defensive waters. Question still remains about the central roles.

My big concern is a lack of attacking play in the middle of the pitch. It was true of the first half than the second half last night, but it has been a concern. It seems that the book on defending against TFC is allow the ball to stay wide and crowd the middle. Osorio, Vazquez and Giovinco had trouble moving forward in central traffic. It seems that combination short passes too often go astray and giveaways abound. Ricketts is not the right sort of player for weaving passes and dribbles. Marky Delgado has vanished from the bench and Ager Aketxe does not get the call from the bench.

So a point was gained when TFC was down 0-3. If the Columbus Crew comeback was a negative for TFC fans, then one has to grant credit to the comeback effort. The standings still look grim for playoff purposes.
Let the World Cup distract all and a fresher TFC greet us come Canada Day.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Road victory Philly Union 0 TFC 2

TFC grabbed their first road victory of the 2018 season. Ok, it was a week late. It should have been that disaster in Columbus last Saturday night.

Jonathan Osorio was the scoring star with a goal in each half. Alex Bono made the timely saves that I had felt he had been lacking of late. He also had the spectacular fortune to have Philly's best shot go off the crossbar.
The back two pairing of Hernandez and Hagglund had a few clunky moments. TFC needs to develop Drew Moor's future replacement. Perhaps it is Hagglund, or Mavinga. I should not be squawking about defending after a game with a clean sheet. Can we play the Union every week?

It was also good to see Agar Aketxe get into the game and play some productive minutes. He needs playing time and a chance to learn the league. It seems that the TFC midfield has both established roles and unsettled ones. Osorio has grabbed his role, Auro Jr has the right flank and we expect a healthy Justin Morrow gets back to the left. Bradley as DM and then a mixture of Aketxe, Fraser, Telfer, Hasler and the Marky Delgado comeback? It almost helps that Victor Vazquez gets his spot as striker.

I am throwing the cat amongst the pigeons here.
The time to sell Seba Giovinco (in my so subtle opinion) is sooner rather than later. 
He has lost a step, does not beat anyone 1v1. Philly is hardly a lockdown defending team, but Seba was smothered. The second goal (his assist on Osorio) was a gift, Philly threw the ball to him wide open.
He is also not showing any maturity, coolness or leadership. After the contact to his face in the second half, he did not get his head back in the game for minutes. If Toledo did not give him a yellow card on his payback tackle, we are in strange territory. Toledo more restrained than our striker. He is not earning a pay raise out there. 

Sure, the return of Altidore, Morrow, Mavinga and Moor will make a huge difference to this team. My opinion is that Giovinco has not expanded to fill the leadership vacuum

Maybe a loan during the offseason? That would be a way to establish whether he has value and reveal to him that if he wants a future in Toronto, it has to be on Toronto's terms.  Maybe a contract offer that allows TFC to sign another striker?

Healthy Hagglund Helps

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Crewsing along, wheels fell off Columbus 3 TFC 3

I waited until the morning after before writing the blog post. I would have been spitting fire from the keyboard. Instead I devoted my energy to yapping on Facebook and Twitter.

It hurt to watch TFC on television squander a 3 goal lead on the road.

It hurt to watch Michael Bradley make some questionable decisions on the ball in critical moments.

It hurts to see Marky Delgado, in only a short time playing as a late substitute, play without confidence and give away the ball.

It hurts to see another team get into Alex Bono's head and have him not make timely saves that were such a huge part of 2017 glory.

I know that TFC injury list continues to be a factor. TFC are missing Jozy Altidore, Justin Morrow, Drew Moor, Chris Mavinga and many more and that the vacancies are huge. Osorio had to leave the game early due to injury.

I chirp about this too often, but TFC still lacks a character guy. A replacement for Benoit Cheyrou and/or Steven Beitashour. Somebody who knows the league, teams and stadiums. Somebody who comes into the game in the late stages and calms the troops, quells the storm, makes the contributions required. Liam Fraser, the TFC rookie midfielder, played a solid first 60 minutes. He and Ryan Telfer have shown plenty of potential, but they are the sort of players who get replaced in the final 20 minutes by a character guy.

TFC need a winning streak. Defeat Philly, DC and NYCFC and I can see myself at the Canada Day game with a renewed sense of hope. But, as I said on twitter last night, it will take months before I gradually, grudgingly take consolation in last night's point on the road. 

to add insult to injury, each of these guys scored last night...

Saturday, May 26, 2018

No goals, no spine, no spit, no fire TFC 0 FCDallas flipfloppin 1

I write on the morning after... my ire slightly cooled. Slightly...

I understand that TFC faces a huge challenge to duplicate or even come close to their wonder season of 2017.

I understand that TFC have had that huge challenge multiplied by the early season demands of playing in the CCL. They were a penalty kick or two, a penalty save or two away from winning the Champion's League.

I understand that TFC have a continuing injury problem - Moor, Morrow, Altidore are the biggest names that come to mind, but plenty more. Chris Mavinga went off injured last night, so it continues.

But for heaven's sake, what the hell is happening here? What are we witnessing? This has suddenly (or over the course of April and May home games) become a team with no sting AND no spine.

Toronto does not have the ability to score and honestly I am not surprised. The offensive strategy is to feed it to Giovinco and hope he scores a miracle goal or shuffle the ball around and mostly stand still.
Has Michael Bradley signed a pledge to never, ever take a shot at net? Victor Vazquez played a substandard game as did Osorio. Ryan Telfer and Liam Fraser both contributed, but having those two rookies be your top two passing and crossing contributors means there are a lot of passengers around them.
I honestly want a month or two break from watching Hamilton and/or Ricketts have limited impact on play. It is a good thing that the June schedule puts TFC on the road most of the time. I feel that TFC needs a striker for a summer signing and possibly a trade to just send a message. No score = not needed.

As to the spit and spine lacking.... it started with the Seba Giovinco pk. Before the shot was taken the Dallas keeper Gonzalez was allowed to stand toe to toe with the penalty taker. Ref? Should have been the first question and if seconds later no action EVERY TFC player should have been in there. I have never seen a keeper be allowed to mess with a penalty taker that way. He proceeded to stall and go back in stages.
The best move of the night was that Ryan Telfer fouled the keeper and earned a yellow first chance he got. Did you notice that the Dallas players all massed around their keeper to protect him after the contact?
The second half was a drama fest. TFC had fewer and fewer attacking ideas and Dallas had fewer and fewer players able to keep to their feet. We saw this type of crap from Colorado last summer and TFC get out their nice guy attitudes and end up with their faces rubbed in it.
Auro Jr caught a Dallas player in the corner below me shinguard to shinguard and the Dallas player went down like he had been amputated. Drew the foul and then did the miracle recovery. Nobody went over and fouled the bugger right then and there. Hey ref he faked it over there.....but, oh look by god damn, he is injured now. Tell the Dallas players stay on your feet and play, you are in Toronto. Hurt somebody, stand up to their tactics, BE LESS THAN NICE. Show some spit, some spine, some fire. Show something other than dither, pass back and hope that static offense is going to magically have the other team falter. If you can’t win pretty WIN UGLY. Arghhhhhh

Nice works when you win, nice works when you score. TFC are faltering and folding and fading. Too many players are in a fuzzy funk. God, we miss Benoit Cheyrou.

Bezbatchenko has to step in with a summer trade and a signing. Vanney and Fraser have to smarten up and either find the offensive, creative spark or pray daily for a healthy return of Morrow and Altidore. Or hire an offensive specialist coach. Or just somebody who loses their temper from time to time. I am available, up in section 220. You will spot me easily, the guy with the steam rising from his cranium.

It is almost unimaginable in recent memory to see a visiting team arrive with the notion that scoring a single goal was enough to defeat TFC in Toronto. Unimaginable. 

Early in game, before steam overload

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Overdue Canadian scoring contributions TFC 2 Orlando 1

Winning a home game = acorn for a squirrel

Call me a happy TFC fan amongst many this morning. Thrilled with the home field victory over Orlando. Winning stops the recent home and away losing spiral and gets the team back on track. There is still a playoff qualification mountain to climb, but victory changes the angle.

Against Orlando, both of TFC's goals were scored by Canadians. A solid strike from Jay Chapman on a huge rebound after Tosaint Ricketts had hit the post with his solid shot. The second goal was an excellent volley by Ryan Telfer after Auro Jr. had twisted, turned the defender and sent the cross from tight quarters in the corner.

The fact that Canadians scored is a relief, but it does not come with any amount of amnesia. The loss to Seattle and the loss to New England could have been (should have been) both avoided by Canadians stepping up to the scoring challenge that was given to them. Chapman and Osorio from the midfield, Hamilton and Ricketts up front. The TFC roster seems to be built with Canadian content mostly in the midfield and forward positions (and Ashtone Morgan). Bluntly, my response to Jay Chapman scoring was "about damn time".
I feel it did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that in the month of May (especially with an injury list that included Moor, Morrow, Mavinga, Hagglund, Zavaletta) Toronto needed to play to win some goal fest games. Sure, some soft goals were allowed. Mostly in the New England game, but the response of too many seemed to be leave the goal scoring efforts to others rather than take on the creative and sweaty challenge of putting the ball on target themselves.
Sorry to offend nationalists, but I was happy to see Jordan Hamilton come out of the game around the 60 minute mark. Too many minutes played in recent games without scoring opportunities or even shots produced. When do you put aside the potential measurement and put the production equation ahead of it? My bloggers hunch is this season, while I respect that wiser heads are involved.

Just to avoid harping on the nationality angle, it was also great that TFC scorers were midfielders. I have long felt that Toronto FC,  apart from Victor Vazquez and Justin Morrow, lacks scoring threats out of their midfield. Marky Delgado seems to be playing in a fog. Most of 2017 season, it seemed that the Vanney team selection was either Delgado or Osorio in the midfield.  You might not have felt that Jonathan Osorio had risen much above Delgado in the CCL, but now the gulf is growing. Perhaps Chapman getting a goal is going to work against Delgado getting playing time to regain his momentum?

So the look ahead for the TFC schedule has May ending with the home game next week against Dallas. Then June sees 3 away games, Columbus, Philly and NYCFC and one home game against DC United. Where Toronto sits come Canada Day will be revealing. I am crazed enough to want a winning streak from last night into July.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Meltdown over comeback NE Revs 3 TFC 2

Two years ago, time to grow up

Toronto FC had a rocky start in New England tonight. Allowing two quick goals on that slick surface. First one was Toronto falling victim to an attacker who fluidly moved into space and let the hard shot fly. It was justice in a way as TFC forever seem to lack that sort of play.
The second goal was Bono taking chances and then failing to clear. Ager Aketxe certainly got stripped of the ball in record time, but he should not have been put in that position. All night long TFC midfielders were misjudging the receiving of passes. The Revs seems to pounce on the turf adjustment micro second. Or the passes were often too slow to begin with.
It is amazing that they started the second half sloppy and allowed Bunbury to score. Falling behind on the road 3-0 should have been the end, but New England let TFC back in.

An own goal by New England. TFC just might.....
Vanney senses an opportunity and puts in Giovinco, Vazquez and Mavinga (which allows Bradley back into the midfield). Then a pk goal for Giovinco.

Then Seba Giovinco was provoked by NE Rev midfielder Zahibo, who poked at the ball that Giovinco was carrying back to centre for the restart of play. Seba responded by pushing at Zahibo's face. Which was a reach.

Red card given. TFC comeback averted.
Giovinco is a top goal scorer and should not take the bait. Other teams physically wrassle with him all the time, but the Seba boiling point is too low. He hurts himself, he hurts the team.

I also feel that this is an area that TFC have neglected. Giovinco's first year in Toronto he had two teammates (Cheyrou and Perquis) who were very good at being very bad to those who messed with Giovinco. Nobody plays that role anymore. Nobody sticks up for our petulant little scoring star.

 Giovinco should mature? Sure, all for it.

But there are also too many players not playing any role at all. If you are scoring, then let Seba fight his own battles. But if he is the only TFC scoring possibility, do something to protect him from idle provocations.

Time for my own meltdown. The pillow is calling....

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

First MLS win 2018 TFC 3 RSL 1

Toronto FC put some worries to bed as they landed a victory in their third MLS game of 2018. The fans knew that Champion’s League games were getting in the way. Columbus and especially Montreal had taken advantage.

Hard to decide whether the win was due to Toronto FC’s quality or RSL’s lack of it. Not that TFC were undeserving, but they were able to dominate with a patchwork line up.

I have the luxury of writing this post after knowing that TFC win their Tuesday CCL home game against Club America. 

So TFC now face, perhaps, the biggest game in their history.

still kicking...

Ashtone Morgannnnnnnnn TFC 3 Club America 1

Yes, it is very possible that Liga MX teams come to Toronto expecting that TFC will collapse at the very sight of them.
Maybe it is the cold rain, the shaky pitch conditions and howling Toronto fans.

Or, damn it, TFC works hard, plays beautifully and gets it done. They have the CCL gear that has them heading next week to Mexico City in (almost) the best position possible. That Club America away goal must present a challenge for TFC. It would be chilling if CA considered that the sole target for the trip.

Yes, I continue to watch streamed from afar. This time around in Arizona. The broadcast with go90 is an excellent production. Solid knowledge of both teams. 

Toronto looks cold on tv.
Bradley was a beast.
Altidore was a hurricane. 
Osorio and Delgado worked their tails off.
Auro,  Zavaletta and van der Wiel were solid. 

Keeping my worries about Moor to myself.
And Toronto was playing without Vazquez, Morrow and Mavinga!

Ashtone Morgan ! He was going and going. My only complaint with Coach Vanney on the night was not subbing Ashtone out with a minute or two to go so that he could have an ovation all to himself.

Still  I will be terrified, TERRIFIED about the second leg game at the Azteca Stadium. 
Get TFC down there tomorrow to get working at altitude.

Get Mavinga and Morrow and Vazquez healthy. Thank you DC United for letting TFC have these days to prepare.

Keep cheering. Keep hoping. Keep plugging 

and score early...

And to think I thought this was a lead TFC could not hold...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Blah to Bleu, Montreal 1 TFC 0

Montreal Impact did what they had to, but I am unimpressed. They scored a goal against the run of play late in the first half and held off Toronto for extended blocks of time in the second half. I felt that the home team was taking advantage of Toronto's fatigue far more than outplaying them. Desperate defending, parking the bus and hoping for rare counter attacks is just not the way a strong team plays at home.

It will seem like hindsight now, but I was not thrilled to see both Giovinco and Altidore in the starting 11. For Montreal this was game 3 of their 2018 season, for TFC it was game 6. The four games of CONCACAF Champion's League have been thrilling and gruelling. We are seeing some squad rotation, but the forwards and the goalkeeper stay constant. Too constant, I say. I recall that Tosaint Ricketts has some health concerns, but somebody has to come off the bench to quench forward fatigue. Those rumours that TFC are looking to sign a veteran striker just gained credence in my book.

It was not surprising that neither Morrow nor Mavinga played considering their coming out of the game against Tigres, although Mavinga might have been on the bench?

Starting the MLS season with two losses might be a bitter fact to face, but I fear not. Plenty of time to climb. 

To those who care about our nomadic winters, we managed to watch this game on wifi in a saloon at Borrego Springs California. All around us were tv screens overflowing with March Madness and we were the two in the corner squirming in our seats, glued to a laptop.
Come May we will be conventional again. BMO Field for home games, conventional tv coverage on the road.
Until the next time.....

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Toronto FC compete and squeak in Mexico Tigres 3 TFC 2, 4-4 aggregateTFC on away goals

Emotional result, Toronto move on.
I knew away goals were critical.
Auro had defending highlights galore. Mavinga plenty too.

Giovinco astounding,

Thought it took far too long for the Vasquez for Delgado move. Delgado was not on his game.

Felt Alex Bono went wobbly when he needed to be a tiger.

Too rattled and ragged for more.

A historic result.

Not sure if my nerves can take another round!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Crew will do ya Toronto FC 0 Columbus Crew 2

This blogger is so overdue for concocting a formatted summary for games that I watch on television and save my free form essays for home games. Yesterday was the BMO Field season opener, but as I continue to travel in California, I watched TFC struggle against Columbus on my iPad. I won't attend a home game until May. So here goes a blend of summary and free form. Or, since I don't have answers I will supply the questions.

What went wrong with TFC against the Crew?
1. They overlooked Columbus and had the upcoming Champions League game versus Tigres on their minds?
2. We need to give this team time to gel? Ager Aketxe and Gregory van der Wiel might be highly talented additions, but they are new to so much. New team, new league, new playing surface, new coach in a new city. 
3. Having Vasquez leave the game at half time threw off the midfield balance?
4. Perhaps the Crew have improved? I thought that trading Meram and Kamara weakened the team. If Zardes makes everyone cheering for the Crew, as he seems capable of doing, forget Kamara then look out for the Crew this season.

Until the next time....

Friday, February 2, 2018

Short offseason, long blog

Don’t cry for me, TFC faithful,
The truth is, one has to wander

This first offseason blog post is a fractured mess. One part apology, one part TFC preseason game summary, and many parts scrambled.
 My egg and welcome to it.
I am blogging from a desert camp site in Southern California (in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park). We have been fortunate in many ways and in the midst of our second winter in a row, far from the ice, snow and bitter cold that is winter in Ontario, I know that I am going for the highest readings on your envy meter.

Hate me, if you must. I am retired, we own an Airstream Basecamp (the tiniest of their models) and we love the U.S. Southwest. My wife is even more dedicated to combining travel with adventure and discovery than myself. We left Ontario January 3rd and came west the long way. We went south to Florida and picked up the westbound Interstate 10 near Jacksonville. Most of our January was spent in southern Arizona. We have wonderful relatives in the LA area (Whittier), so we are drawn to California.
All of this background ramble just leads us back to TFC. OK, the route back to our beloved team was laced with bragging, but I knew where I was going. You are probably aware that TFC are holding phase 1 of their preseason training camp on the campus of UC Irvine. As the freeway allows, that is around 40 minutes south of my aunt and uncle’s home. So Monday past (January 29) we headed down to see TFC in action. They were playing three 45 minute games versus UC Fullerton, another local college team. 
It was a wonderful experience. The campus is very scenic, trees and landscaped grounds, everyone strolling around in shorts. This is not the university in January experience that either I or my kids ever encountered. Just south of the Orange County “John Wayne” Airport, you can see planes taking off in the brilliant sunshine. The fields look to be in top condition. It would have been just another great day in California, but encountering your team and mine, the mighty TFC, pushed things to the top level. It was a “pinch me, I’m dreaming” moment.
There was no effort made to promote the game, that I knew of. I had to tweet to find out the starting time of 11am. This may be due to the fact that TFC’s games to follow involved pro teams in stadiums (Jan 31 vs Tijuana in San Diego and today Feb.2 vs LAFC at the UCLA Drake Stadium EDIT UPDATE, that game has ended 2-2 TFC goals from Endoh and Giovinco). However even with this low key, middle of Monday, approach, I was surprised by the sparse gathering. My entourage (wife and me, uncle, aunt and our dog) nearly outnumbered the few parents and friends of UC Fullerton players. It was a true thrill to watch TFC this close. It was as if your favourite team landed in your local park. A few times I did feel like calling out to the locals “Do you know how good these guys are? “

Game #1 TFC line-up was
Zavaletta Hagglund Mavinga
Hasler Vasquez Bradley Osorio Morgan
Giovinco Altidore

Score was 3-1 - TFC goals, Altidore, Hagglund and Osorio.
Remember that Justin Morrow had played for the US in a friendly the night before in Carson and Marky Delgado had been on the US bench. Alex Bono had been part of the US training camp.
I thought it was interesting to give Ashtone Morgan the opportunity to play down the left with the first team. He certainly stretched the college defensive formation and made some plays, but he needed to look a lot stronger if 2018 playing time is the goal. 
The only first teamers in the second “game” of 45 minutes were Drew Moor and Jordan Hamilton. You could see that Moor was playing with a coaching influence in mind. It was hard to get a sense of who was impressing from a TFC depth perspective as UC Fullerton made a huge switch and put on their half dozen bench players.
We did not stay for session #3, though I could see that the next squad was going to include Endoh, Ricketts, Spencer. Later I read that TFC whomped UC Fullerton 7-1 in that final game. Hardly seems fair though, the college squad number 18 at the most and TFC would have hit them with a set of fresh legs all eager to make a training camp impression.

Off season news In a nutshell
The Toronto FC story since the Cup victory, has been 
- Raheem Edwards selected by LAFC in expansion draft and then dealt to Montreal (blame Bob Bradley)
- Steven Beitashour had to take his free agent moment and accepted an offer from LAFC. Truly sorry to see him go, but the MLS free agent wait is so long, it was not the right time for him to take a pay cut in an emotional decision.
-Armando Cooper was also a free agent and has ended up in Chile. He was not going to be a starter, so a parting far down on the heartbreak list.
-TFC drafted Tim Kubel a defender and Drew Shepard, a keeper, in the first rounds of the MLS draft. They signed midfielder Liam Fraser from their Academy to a pro contract.
-The biggest splash signing has been right back Gregory van der Wiel, former Dutch international ( teams in career were Ajax, PSG, Fenerbahce, Cagliari). It explains why Beitashour was tempted away, TFC money was going towards the bigger TAM signing.

I have been long of the opinion that greater patience should be shown to defenders trying to leap mid-career into MLS. Then along came Chris Mavinga, shaky in his debut vs Atlanta and a star the rest of the season. The only criticism I could muster for Mavinga in 2017 was the suspicion that he was letting attackers get past him because he knew he had time and space to make a spectacular recovery clearance. If van der Wiel can match Mavinga, TFC has taken a big step, a huge step.

February should be an unusually active month for TFC fans. The two game Champion’s League first round with Colorado is played at the end of the month. Toronto takes a break from California training camp soon, but has lined up friendly games in Mexico in the weeks ahead. I don’t know the exact location or opponents yet. Our travelling plans keep us in California for most of the month and I have no intention of straying from the warmth to visit Denver. I am hoping to coordinate my travels home in April with the TFC game in Houston on April 21.

Thanks for reading my scramble- stay tuned. Still Kicking