Saturday, March 17, 2012

First Kick - TFC Style

Mood: Optimistic (shocking I know)
Location: Not Seattle - secret TFC fan bunker

It's First Kick for TFC and I for one am as excited if not more than I was for the CCL matches - this is where our season begins and our beloved Reds really get to show us what they're made of!  Now is the time to put away CCL dreams and concentrate on the real business at hand - wiping that grin off of Drew Carey's face.  And what's with this St. Patrick guy and his blatant bias towards the Sounders? No I'm not green with envy - you couldn't pay me to wear green today - I'll be proudly sporting my TFC gear and will not guarantee I won't hurt the first (or 10th) person to say "why aren't you wearing green today?".

It would seem that most pundits, analysts, talking heads etc. have viewed TFC's win on Wednesday as some kind of fluke and declared that they will of course fall to the boys in the glowing, nay retina burning, green kits tonight.  We will also have to endure endless babble about the "great fans in Seattle" - as though Sounders fans are the only ones who support their team loudly and in numbers. Wonder how many Sounders fans have ever traveled to Toronto to support their team? I'd wager you count them on one hand.

Both teams start their MLS seasons tonight after playing their quarter-final CCL matches and we all know which team emerged as the only MLS club still standing.  It's not unfair to worry that the Sounders will be out to redeem themselves after being destroyed by Santos Laguna on Wednesday; that sort of drubbing does not rest easy with any team. Despite that 6-1 final score, Seattle is a good team that should do very well this year. However you cannot discount the momentum that TFC have been building prior to the start of their MLS season. While certainly not perfect the Reds played well against Becks and the boys; not just in results - we are the (quarter-final) champions! - but in a huge road win against a better team, in closing out the final game; scoring goals, defending to the last minute and Kocic with the monster saves. Granted CenturyLink Field will have a few more fans out to watch than in LA and you can never discount the effect of the 12th man.

On the upside the Sounders will be feeling the effects of travel while TFC have had a fairly easy journey up the coast and do not have to adjust to the time difference. On the downside the Reds have historically not done well on the road (oh those road woes!), at CenturyLink Field (zero wins) or against the Sounders period (posting a 1-4-1 record) - I'm not being all that positive you say? I'm just setting the stage before saying the past is the past.  I strongly believe that TFC have the advantage in that this is not the team that their MLS opposition have been kicking around for the past 5 years - I think they're going to surprise a lot of people; not just tonight but all season long.

What do TFC have to do tonight (Score goals? Yes, you're very funny, now pay attention) to win?   Look for Ryan Johnson to continue to use his field sense and service to score and set up his teammates (Danny - keep your eye on RJ9). Frings will keep being the boss on the field, anchoring the backline and setting up the plays through the midfield. Harden and Aceval will need to be much stronger in the middle and maintain better communication with (Frei? Kocic?) as well as with Ecks and Morgan. And Soolsma will (hopefully) keep baffling well all of us with his slow but effective style of play. The Reds will need to focus on shutting down forward Fredy Montero (I have such a dislike for that brat) and midfielder Maura Rosales; both can easily change the face of a game with their speed, playmaking and goal scoring abilities. TFC should also be looking to exploit a Seattle defense that is anything but rock solid.  

This is a winnable game folks - I'm not just saying that because I think they'll win every game (even though I do) - I truly feel this is an opportunity for TFC to open their season with 3 points.  Make sure that come 10pm you're at the pub, or in front of the TV and that you're ready to cheer our team on - it's First Kick TFC style people - let's do this!

Link It Up Baby: For all your game preview and more technical pre-match needs hit up the usual suspects: The Yorkies, Waking The Red <--this one from James & another one here from Duncan and Red Nation Online

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