Monday, July 30, 2012

Sixth Verse, Same As The First (And Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth), Little Bit Louder, Little Bit Worse

Mood: Meh with a side of Disappointed
State of Mind: Round and round
Location: On the TFC Rollercoaster like everyone else

Another beautiful day at BMO; another disappointing, uninspired performance from our Reds. Stop me if you've heard this before. Actually as you have heard it before (oh so many times this season) stopping me would leave me with nothing left to write, but as that's not my way I'll continue.

It would seem that over the course of their 10 days off that instead of continuing to come together and build upon some flashes of solid play over their previous three games, they all took a collective step back to become the TFC that we all sadly love (or hate) but mostly are resigned over.  This was one of the least inspired efforts put forth by our Reds this season; made to look all the more so as they were playing a good team as opposed to one of the basement dwellers or teams in free fall.  It's, well not really all that astonishing how poor they look stacked up against a team with quality - wouldn't it be nice if they played up to an opponent? Remember when they used to do that? Sigh.

I took to my seats in the West Stands for the first half in hopes of seeing some decent play and some incremental signs of progress. My first thought - other than my exasperation at the again row upon row of empty seats at kickoff - was surprise at the starting XI.  Instead of keeping what seemed to have been the beginning of a potentially successful partnership between RJ and Silva; new signing (Dr.) Quincy Amarikwa was slotted up top and Silva was shifted to the midfield.  The only reason I can think of for this is that he was being rewarded for scoring a goal in that game against that English team; otherwise I don't get it. Amarikwa doesn't yet have a proven track record and while I'd gladly see him on the bench to be brought in as a sub to inject some energy when needed; I don't get why in such an important game he'd get the start. Colour me completely baffled. Mariner said after the game that RJ and Quincy had played together before hence the pairing; but I didn't see any signs of familiarity in their performance on the field. Not to mention that Dr. Q's inclusion in the lineup meant that Avila was relegated to the bench. This was a game that begged for creativity and ball movement through the midfield in order to help the forwards; especially as they were playing a very good Houston team.

The first half was pretty much a snoozefest as neither team did much to acquit themselves. Yes, the Dynamo had a few shots and Ecks did some nice work to snuff out a couple of attacks. And TFC did get up the field but the best chance - a header from Doneil off a ball from Frings - went straight to the keeper. The lack of energy and focus was apparent in our Reds and they showed a frustrating lack of creativity. The highlight of the first half actually came before the game even started when during the player introductions the crowd (OK, all 337 of us) saw Nick Soolsma's face and name flashed onto the screen when Amarikwa was being introduced - I suspect Suarez had snuck into the control room. The other "highlight" of sorts was the poorly timed and attempted bicycle kick from Dr. Quincy - it was not even close to being on net - but hey, kudos for the attempt?  And in true TFC fashion they closed out the half by poorly defending a set piece (shocking, I know) and leaving Calen Carr completely unmarked to head the ball past Kocic. Fun!  

For the second half I once again relocated to the South Stands to hang with my friends from The Yorkies; @ignirtoq and @rohankoomar and the rest of our sarcastically merry crew.  The half progressed much in the same way as the first. Not much happening on the attack from our Reds and the Dynamo controlling most of the run of play.  Andrew Wiedeman came on for Amarikwa in hopes of creating some scoring chances but he never really clicked. I kept waiting for Eric Avila to come on but instead late in the half two basically defensive subs were made when Aaron Maund and Jeremy Hall were brought on for Doneil Henry and Logan Emory. At that point I remarked that we were basically playing for the loss.  There was still time to get back a goal and get a draw at the time of the first sub - why not bring on Avi? - instead another defensive miscue led to the killer goal by who else but Brian Ching. Awesome.  

What was apparent throughout the entire match - other than the lack of energy by the Reds - is that regardless of the strong work from Ecks (MOTM easily) he is not a backline general. This team needs a veteran CB to organize the defense if they are to pull themselves out of this basement abyss they seem destined to occupy. A cobbled together defense with two players playing out of their natural position is just not going to withstand the pressure for much longer.  While I appreciate that the FO wants to 'find the right fit' and that the Mellberg situation is wreathed in smoke and half truths it doesn't change the fact that this team has been lacking a proper backline anchor pretty much since it's inception.  Instead we get converted leftbacks and barely able substitutes (although Ty hasn't played in ages so hey, a positive!) and we sign a striker or two to try and replace Danny. Even ones that still aren't able to play and won't play until this coming weekend at the earliest. Of course I'm talking about Hassli (sorry Quincy, not much left to say) - time will tell if this is a good move for TFC - but at the moment all I see is his propensity for red cards and the fact that he's well, injured. If he can get healthy fairly quickly, keep a level head and score more than the occasional goal then I'll consider this a positive and let the chips fall where they may next year. But I'd still rather have a proper CB (sorry Eric!). And with the only rumoured help coming being Irish international Darren O'Dea (nicknamed O'Dear) not filling anyone with confidence we can only wait and hope.

Really the only highlight of the second half (and the highlight of the game) was the again epic rendition of the soon to be classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" (it is ridiculous how much fun we have singing it! Seriously, join in!) that is now being requested at each match.  It spread throughout most of 113 and 112 and not only could it be heard over at the other end of BMO, (as per @wakingthered) but could also be heard on the Gol TV broadcast. I look forward to hearing the entire South Stands and beyond belting it out - start learning those lyrics folks! Coming soon the dubstep version!  And the adaption of the YSA chant to YSG (You Suck Garber) as a response to MLS Commissioner Don Garber taking supporter groups to task for vulgarity at matches. Please read The Yorkies post-match for @ignirtoq's fantastic letter to Don in response to this latest bit of anti-fan rhetoric.  

Not an easy day at BMO Field for anyone - chin up folks it's not going to get any easier - although those of you that left when Ching scored that goal; what the hell? As much as it was a shite performance this is still your team is it not? There was four minutes of added time in which anything could have (although likely wasn't) happened. Be ticked off, voice your opinion but stay until the bloody end would you? Even at my angriest I've not left early - besides, staying gives me more time to vent with the other members of the blogger cartel - seriously, it's post-game therapy! Regardless of my issues with the team (and as you know, I have a few) they're still my team and I'll stay until the bitter end. Anyway, on to the next one right? CCL match and on a Wednesday? Guaranteed win? Here's hoping.

Link It Up: Waking The Red, Duncan at Sportsnet, Michael Gardner and Red Nation Online.

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