Mood: Sad, angry, numb
State of Mind: Moving through the 5 stages of grief - look out dark side, here I come
Location: Doesn't matter.
"We're setting a record for the worst team in the world". That's from Danny Koevermans' post-game interview; one of the bleakest ones I've ever watched but he describes the entire season perfectly.
What is it about league play that strikes fear into the hearts of TFC players, shakes their focus and causes them to forget the most basic aspects of the game? It is mystifying, (frustrating, maddening), to watch this team play solid football over the past two weeks (score goals, not lose, post a clean sheet) against MLS opponents and then turn around and promptly forget how to play the sport for long stretches of time once they actually get to league play.
Last night was yet another example of what has become the patented 2012 version of TFC play - they played well for stretches, let multiple chances go begging, again started off slow - seriously, have a coffee or something before the match, wake the hell up when that whistle blows - and let defensive miscues carry the day.
I had high hopes when the starting XI was announced; back to back games with the same players? Consistency, what a concept! They were coming off a couple of decent performances, had to be filled with confidence and fired up for their first points; right? Right? But less than 60 seconds into the game who else but DeRo (and it was always going to be him) headed in the ball off of an early DC free kick. You could see that the defense was not comfortable in those first 10 minutes or so. On the positive (?) side was the attacking side of our Reds; they were continually pressing and easily getting up into the DC end but an amazing lack of finishing kept them at zero.
But as they continued to keep it within a goal and press the attack I still had hope; until that second goal with minutes to spare in the first half. Again scored by DeRo (of course), but the way that he scored! Argh; was that not the easiest goal anyone has ever scored against TFC? He was completely unmarked; completely! How do you leave one of the best players in the game, one who loves to score against his former team and one who has already scored in the game unmarked. That was when it became apparent that nothing good was going to come of this game.
The second half saw an immediate change in the lineup with Koevermans coming on for Dunfield. A good sub in my opinion as Dunfield had been less than stellar. But even with the big man up top the Reds still couldn't find the back of the net. Finally Plata (another subpar performance - why is he still a starter?) was subbed off in favour of Nick Soolsma (who when fit should always start imo). And although TFC continued to find holes in the easily exploitable DC defense nothing was working until finally Koevermans was on the receiving end of a perfect ball by JDG and easily put it past Hamid. Happiness, right? Short lived as almost immediately DC charged up the field catching TFC napping (I'd say I was shocked but alas) as Andy Najar set up Salihi and that was it; a new record was set!
I keep wavering between angry and sad when I think about this match. I am sick of watching them make rookie mistakes every single match, of watching the abundance of missed chances and the inability to transfer their form in Cup play to league play. And I'm tired of watching good performances from players like Lambe, Johnson, Avi & Soolsma go to waste. This was a winnable match - the DC defense was all too easy to penetrate throughout most of the match - they should have had points from this one, period. Then you watch the post game interviews...it is disheartening at best to see the frustration and sadness from these players game after game. I feel terrible for them; it hurts to see them so broken down. It would be easier if they didn't give a damn, if they weren't trying; then we could just be angry and say sack them all. So what is the solution?
The knee jerk reaction is to fire Winter; and this may no longer be a choice if points don't start to materialize. But who gets the big chair? The most horrifying (yet still possible) answer is Jimmy Brennan - it's tailor made for the PR hacks - "Former captain and home town boy fulfills his lifelong dream of coaching in the MLS"...in reality it's a 2 year dream and the worst thing possible that could happen to this team. I'm not saying that things don't need to change and maybe it is time for Winter to move on (either entirely or elsewhere in the organization) and changes need to happen but not just at the lower levels. Sadly those changes are not likely to come now or in the near future. Instead we'll continue to get "Support Our Troops" day and certainly more bland, corporate "family friendly" (read: fan killing) activities and events to come.
It's a bit of a scary time for us my fellow fans - if things don't change for the better soon we had all better get used to empty seats (or cheerleaders *shudder*, or worse); you will literally be able to sit anywhere you like at BMO Field. Those other teams that we make fun of for poor attendance and invisible supporters will soon be looking down at us. Let's see if we can't stave that off a bit longer OK? Don't stop going and supporting. Be angry, protest what Anselmi and Co. are doing to our team but be there for the boys on the field. Let's hope they have another team meeting and are back to playing end-to-end football for 90 minutes, with confidence and fire. I haven't given up yet and I hope you haven't either. See you Wednesday?
Lacklustre Links: The Yorkies, Waking The Red, Red Nation Online and East Side Stand Up Podcast.