Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Running With The Red Bulls, More Off Field Drama and MLS Honours: Or, A Typical Few Days For TFC

Mood: Mildly optimistic
State of Mind: Not in complete despair over my team
Location: Sadly not at the beach enjoying my part of the long weekend

Saturday night the weather gods smiled upon the fans and the Reds with yet another warm (OK it was hot but still), sunny, non-rainy evening down at BMO. And for the first time in weeks TFC fans turned out in force; BMO wasn't sold out but looking around the stands it was great to see them full of people instead of seeing empty seats masquerading as people. I have no doubt that some of those filled seats were due to Thierry Henry's appearance. While not Becks-like in his popularity, he ranks up there with him and there are enough fans of that team from the EPL to bring out some extra casuals for one game. I'd like to say that those casuals were so blown away by TFC's performance that they'll be back but knowing the fickleness of some footy fans it's unlikely. 

Most of the folk that I talked to pre-match seemed optimistic that the Reds would put in a complete and competitive performance; even against a tough opponent like the Red Bulls. Mariner started the same XI as the previous matches with the exception of Lambe in the place of JDG (have to give the old guy some rest) and all of the TFC3 made the bench, so all it would seem that all is forgiven. Or more likely it's that injuries have left him with no choice. Either way I am always happy to see Soolsma not in the doghouse (sorry Suarez, cathouse has some negative connotations).

The game itself wasn't anything to really write home about with a few notable exceptions:

1. TFC conceded the opening goal within 4 minutes on a missed marking (oh defense, when will you learn) on Jan Gunnar Solli.
2. TFC equalized two minutes later when Danny headed in a corner kick from Das Kapitan - wait, TFC equalized? Have to enjoy the TFC alternate universe.
3. The Reds pretty much completely neutralized Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper - during the second half we commented that we'd almost forgotten that Cooper was playing.
4. Logan Emory continued to put forth if not a stunning at least a competent effort in the centre topped off by that fantastic (and possibly game saving) tackle on Joel Lindpere - perfectly timed and executed as Lindpere seemed to be all alone in front of Kocic. 
5. While unable to go ahead the Reds did not just fall back and allow the opposition to take over; they pressed but also remained strong defensively to come up with a point against one of the best teams in the league.

For the first time in the past couple of weeks TFC playing to a draw was actually a positive result. It wasn't a particularly exciting match but TFC played a competent game, they played for the full 90 and put in a pretty solid and complete effort. The fact that they scored the come from behind goal and then did not fold is the best takeaway and has our Reds getting points in each of their last four games.  They may not be setting the league on fire and I'm not ready to say everything is fixed let's crown PM king; but 9 goals and 6 points in 4 games? It's enough to bring my optimism closer to the surface.

Late Links: In case you didn't already read these here are you usual suspects - The Yorkies, Waking The Red and Red Nation Online.

Drama Continues:

Underlying all of the positives from TFC's recent form is the usual behind the scenes, off the pitch soap opera as the status of Joao Plata reeled like a drunken sailor from "he's with the team" to "he's maybe being loaned out" to "he's already heading back to LDU Quito" all in a manner of hours.  There were numerous tweets and links that seemed to indicate that Plata was at the very least going back to Quito for the next six months and Plata himself retweeted the story and from various accounts seemed to be saying his good-byes to his teammates. However during the post-game interviews (about the 8 minute mark), Paul Mariner very angrily denied that Plata was leaving and called him out; "(Is he going) on holiday, a vacation...maybe he wants to be the manager so he can tell me what's going on"..."I love it when 19 year-old kids come in and tell the press what's going on.". 

And team officials stated that they fully expected Plata to be at training today which made the following tweet earlier this morning from @BeachTory "Plata not at training this AM" all the more intriguing. The situation with Plata has been confusing at best and is yet another illustration of the many issues with the MLSE/TFC Front Office.  I won't even get into the Nesta situation, as that is even more mired in maybes and a tug-of-war between TFC and IMFC.  It's disconcerting that this team continues to allow behind the scenes drama overshadow the team's performance on the field. Wouldn't it be great to go an entire month (hell, I'll settle for a week) drama free? To just let us concentrate on the team and their form? Yeah, I'd like that too. Please check out Duncan's piece at Waking The Red and Kurt Larson's blog from yesterday for more on both of these situations.

Positive Note:

It was announced yesterday that Danny Koevermans had won MLS Player of The Week honours on the strength of very strong play of late capped by his scoring proficiency making it's resurgence. Danny just eked out fellow Red and team captain Torsten Frings for the honour.  It's been a while since our team had some MLS recognition; feels good to see reports of a positive nature as opposed to the laughingstock of the league sort. Enjoy the moment Reds fans; hopefully we'll have more in the coming weeks and months.

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