State of Mind: ...
Location: On the dark side on a temporary cynic work visa
Yes I know the blog is supposed to be about relentless optimism but everyone needs a holiday, right? Yesterday instead of watching from my usual optimistic seats up in 226, I relocated over to the South Stands for a change of perspective. What better game to spend my afternoon in the sun and in the company of funny, die-hard, yet cynical fans (forever known as the Cynics' Circle), than the one for setting the record for futility? This game was tailor made for a trip to the dark side.
|Cynics' Circle - We can't be bothered to watch|
It all began with yet another change in the starting XI as Adrian Cann was relegated to the bench in an effort to "manage his minutes" - really, put what has been your best (yes I know that's not saying much) CB on the bench in a game where the defense has to be perfect - and let the descent into the darkness begin! I am fully aware that he (and Terry Dunfield) were both being rested for Wednesday night's match against Montreal in the home leg of their Voyageur's Cup series but...just once (seriously just once!) I would like to see the same eleven players in back to back games. Let the players actually get to know one another for longer than 60 or so minutes and perhaps we'll see some positive results.
The first half saw our boys actually play some decent football from time to time (can't be negative for the entire post). JDG was able to contain DeRo and the back line were holding it together; even Aceval didn't make any serious errors. Except of course that Frings was once again playing back instead of up in the midfield where he belongs. And it was hard to focus on the good on the field in those first 45 minutes when all I could see was the lack of spark or creativity from the attack. OK yes, Avi and Morgan had a couple of nice moments with some good overlapping runs but again, nothing came of it. Not helping was watching a visibly frustrated Ryan Johnson time and time again look for any sort of support. You want heartbreaking? Watch his post-match interview - hurts your soul a little, doesn't it?
All of that aside the first half ended and while there wasn't much to cheer about hey, they weren't losing and had earned 4 gold stars on my scale of one gold star per 10 minutes without being scored upon...it's a sad chart on the fridge let me tell you, they have not earned many gold stars; I never should have bought in bulk...
The inevitable of course happened 10 minutes into the second half when Chris Pontius (I'm not happy about calling it but I did; both in the previous post and pre-game as well) scored a beauty of a goal and then Hamdi Salihi's goal 20 minutes later sealed their fate. There was no coming back for the team on this day. You could see what fight there was pretty much drain out of the players.
The mood in the south stands (cynicism central notwithstanding) was to me curiously quiet. No flags, no banners, no tifos and for the first half it seemed that there were no capos either. It was a much quieter experience than I had expected and speaks to the growing unrest amongst the supporters. I am not suggesting that anyone has abandoned their team (although what is so difficult about before kickoff? What?!) but you can feel the change in the stands - this is not BMO 2007 - this is the new normal for 2012.
But other than the depressing post-game interviews for me the low point was when Torsten Frings was injured - obviously in pain he went to the sidelines, got some sort of treatment and then went back out but did not want to be there - finally in frustration he kicked the ball out, ripped off the captain's armband, flung it to the ground and then stormed off down the tunnel. All of us just looked at one another in stunned amazement - did that just happen? Did we just watch this version of TFC come to an end? Afterwards Frings stated he meant nothing by the gesture, that he was just in pain, but in the moment that was the worst thing I've ever seen on the pitch at a TFC match - that armband hitting the turf.
Obviously something needs to change - if our boys do not win on Wednesday I think you can put the countdown clock above Winter's head and set it to 9 days. I don't actually think it's the right choice; only because this team has been dying for stability for it's entire existence - but do you honestly think MLSE will let this go? Who knows, we'll find out fairly soon.
As for me; my optimism has obviously been a little battered and I'm a little lower than usual. Does that mean I'll stop going to games? Never - I will always be there because that is what I do. Regardless of the drama I will continue to support the boys on the field. We were never promised easy and honestly that's not why we follow them is it? We follow and support because they're our team and that's what we do. It would be easier to turn our backs (Cynics Circle was an anomaly, honest!) if we didn't see the emotion from our players - if they really just didn't care it would be easier to just chuck it all - but they do, and so do I. Let's not kick them while they're down - let's be there for them. See you Wednesday?
Low Links: Here you go - not a lot to laugh about in these wrap-ups but there's a chuckle or two to be had. The Yorkies - post-game & Armbandaggedon, Waking The Red, Red Nation Online and Always Next Year.