State of Mind: Getting sick of the TFC Time Machine & Soap Opera
Location: The land of here we go again
*Apologies for the lack of blogging (for the 4 or 5 of you that have been wondering that is); life interferes so again, sorry! Although you may not want to read yet more doom and gloom; but if you're still feeling annoyed with the team's performance on Saturday and today's really fun news from Houston then read on...*
Well that was shall we say less than fun to watch eh? It's been three weeks since we'd seen our boys play and I for one was hoping to put aside the drama of the Winter firing (yes, he was fired, deal with it) and the Mariner appointment (winner of TFC Survivor) and focus on the next new beginning for our boys in Red. Sadly it would appear that the team did not get the new beginning memo and thought they were supposed to emulate the beginning of this season.
Mariner immediately moved the team away from the 4-3-3 of the previous regime to his preferred (pay no attention to his no systems blather) 4-4-2 with Danny and RJ being paired up top. And the back 4 (which had been performing much better) saw a change with Jeremy Hall in the place of Ashtone Morgan who was being rested after travelling with the CMNT (since he didn't play a minute). OK, so some changes - change can be good right? All I was hoping for was to see the team build off of the positive performances they showed heading into the break and go out and compete. I didn't expect a win - especially not against SKC at home - but I did expect them to fight and show us that they can roll with the punches.
What we got was a horrific defensive performance the likes of which we haven't seen since well 6 or 8 weeks ago. It was an effort (and I hesitate to call it that) that showed zero ability to man mark, clear the ball cleanly and read the play. It was maddening to see the seemingly acres of space being conceded to SKC as they again and again easily got forward into dangerous areas. The TFC defense looking like they'd never playing a minute together, were clearly confused and showed none of the promise from 3 weeks ago. By the time the half was called it was 2-0 for the team in blue. In fact only some nice work from Kocic and a couple TFCesque near misses kept the score that close.
Complementing the defense in a truly comedic way was the ongoing inability of the forwards to score. Yes that two post ping-pong miss by Avila was heartbreaking in its "are you kidding me" aspect; and in fact Avi was one of the few bright spots on the night. However that does nothing to excuse the continuing inability of Danny K. to put the ball in the net. He missed at least two clear chances, not to mention being right there when Avi's ball came off the second post - to me he was operating at half speed (of half motivation) all night. His job is to score goals and he's not doing it; he appears to finally be back at full fitness so when can we expect to see him producing?
All in all it was an uninspiring, underwhelming, amateur performance from our boys. I don't care that Paul Mariner was super animated on the side line all night and that he "coached them for every minute" - the animation level of my team's coach does nothing to convince me that things are moving in the right direction. Especially a coach that thinks his team was sensational with the exception of the first 20 minutes of the game (really Paul? Sensational?). I did not enjoy watching them punt the ball and run around aimlessly for most of the 90 minutes. But they looked better during the second half you say? I said the same thing until I watched the game again; SKC completely let up in the second - they had done what needed to be done and did just enough to keep our boys off of the score sheet.
I will give some ground due to the fact that this was their first game back after the break and that they are adjusting to a new coach and yes, a new system. I'm certainly not ready to write them off - although am I ever? - and think there is an opportunity for the team such as they are to come together. But watching your team go 1-10 amid (and in part due to) continual drama behind the scenes is frustrating as a fan. Here's a musical thought before moving on to today's episode of "As The TFC Turns"...
Link It Up Baby: Here's the usual suspects for your usual thorough breakdown of the match: The Yorkies, Duncan from WTR at Sportsnet, Red Nation Online and Mistake By The Lake.
So today after everyone was coming to terms with Saturday night's underwhelming performance and were looking ahead to Wednesday night's match against the Dynamo, came the news that three of TFC's players had been arrested for public drunkenness and thrown in jail. Seriously; I can't make stuff like this up. The unlikely trio of Miguel Aceval, Nick Soolsma and Luis Silva (check out the mug shots - Aceval's "could care less" to Soolsma & Silva's "what the hell have we done") were out very late at Club Escobar in Houston and ended their night in the custody of the Houston PD. This is not the next step in the team's new beginning that we were looking for. I've heard talk of "boys will be boys" and "hey, who hasn't been drunk in public before" as comments and well I don't agree.
I have nothing against the guys going out to blow off some steam; hell if you played for TFC wouldn't you want to go out for a drink or two (or five or six)? I completely get that, I do. What I question is the decision making by both the players for tying one on and the team for allowing the players to head out for a night on the town that close to a match; shouldn't they be focusing on getting their heads wrapped around the new system and you know, winning? There are questions about whether or not the TFC3 had permission to be out that late (really boys? 3am?) or if they were breaking curfew or whatnot. What it comes down to is this is yet another depressingly embarrassing moment in the club's not so storied history. Another unnecessary distraction for a team that really needs everyone focused on what's happening on the field.
I have no idea what happens next for the trio; I have to assume that some combination of fines and game suspensions is coming their way either from the league or from the team or both. I can't imagine that any of them will suit up for Wednesday's match and in a purely speculative look to the future I can see one or two of them being let go in a bid to save salary - if the three did break team or MLS rules then this is a built in out for Mariner & Co. to dump some players they don't want without having to look for a contract loophole - again, this is purely speculative on my part but I would not be surprised were it to happen. Regardless of the outcome, sadly the TFC soap opera continues and the league continues to laugh at our team; most embarrassing team ever? Sigh, it's never easy is it TFC fans? So, everyone excited for Wednesday? Sigh.
Lock-up Links: Thoughts from my friends over at The Yorkies and Waking The Red and the latest comic efforts from East Side Stand Up.