Saturday, August 18, 2012

Olympians, New Back Four and Oh Yeah A Match

Mood: For some reason fairly optimistic
State of Mind: Who needs 1st place? We've got the CDN Women's National Team
Location: Still Vacationland

Can we change it to Wayward Sons? Entire team full of wayward...
It's a beautiful day for football - no I'm not talking about the return of the EPL today (although I know you're all glued to the TV right now) - but the return of some gorgeous weather and six of the seven players that TFC were obviously sorely missing on Wednesday night. There's some sort of hoopla going down near BMO as well - The Ex I believe they call it. No, not the Hex; that's a different thing - and some of our Canadian Women's (Bronze medal winning) National Team will be honoured before the game. So I'll say this for the perpetually late faithful: LEAVE HOME EARLY TODAY!

A quick look back at Wednesday's effort by our Reds - and it doesn't need to be long because there's not much to talk about. This is what stood out for me on Wednesday night:

1. The first half was terrible. I know you're shocked by this but it really was.
2. In the first half the terribleness was highlighted by the frozen midfield. Zero movement, zero energy, zero setting up the attack - I can't call to mind anything positive.
3. Ty Harden...oh Spork, just no. 
4. Frings - could he have looked more disinterested in what was going on? 
5. Second half was marginally better - they scored some goals!
6. Hassli got his first goal but then decided to take shots from wherever he happened to be with the ball. I know that fans yell "shoot" but you don't have to listen to them!
7. That second goal was a thing of beauty - one of the best goals you'll see at BMO ever. See? I can be positive!
8. They let the worst road team (and one of the worst teams in MLS) come back and get a point against them; at home.
9. Fans - what is with you? Why can you not make it to BMO for kickoff. Or for the first 10-20 minutes? By the end the stands were fairly full but I'll resist posting another of my "seats dressed up as supporters" pictures that I took just prior to the first whistle. Maddening.

I know that our Reds were undermanned on Wednesday but the Timbers are not in any way a team to really fear and TFC let them take that game and do with it what they wanted. Have I mentioned how terrible the midfield was? Is Terry Dunfield really that important to this team? And in a game in which he needed to prove himself I'm sad to say that Avi did not have anything resembling a good game (see terrible midfield) and will likely not see the pitch again this season. Hassli put in a good performance in his first starting appearance for the Reds - other than the "shoot the ball from anywhere" aspect, I'll take this version of Eric "The Red Card" Hassli any day. Although why (hello midfield) more balls weren't sent into him was a concern. The cobbled together defense looked like exactly that. Ecks is Ecks and Morgan was pretty solid but well, never again with that combo OK? Otherwise it was typical TFC; poor start, they woke up after the half but couldn't sustain it. Just another dull, depressing day for the fans. Sigh.

Late Links: The usual hilarity from The Yorkies, post-game breakdown from Waking The Red and player ratings from Red Nation Online.

On to today's game. Facing our Reds on this beautiful day are the team that we love to hate, Sporting KC (although I always think of them as the Wizards) with Teal "the traitor" Bunbury and Jacob "Captain America" Petersen - although he's injured and won't be playing; silver lining! - on their roster and their pajama-like kits (seriously, they look like baby blue PJs) what is there to like? Yes I know that they're the number one team in the MLS right now and have a fairly potent attack with Kei Kamara and CJ Sapong joining Bunbury up top. Kamara has been a constant thorn in the side of TFC and will need to be marked closely today. 

TFC will have a much stronger (in theory anyway) lineup today even with Reggie Lambe out with injury. Today will mark the debut (finally) of new CB Darren O'Dea who according to all reports acquitted himself very well in Ireland's game against Serbia on Wednesday and was very vocal at TFC's practice yesterday. Whether he is the answer to righting some of our Reds' defensive woes is something everyone will be watching for today. The new partnership of Silva and Hassli will continue up top and RJ (back from international duty) will drop back to the midfield which should hopefully serve him well. And it would seem that the energy and willingness to hurl himself into games that Dunfield possesses was a missing ingredient on Wednesday; with a couple of new partners in the midfield (likely Wiedeman joining Dunfield, Frings and Johnson) we'll see if that continues to contribute to some sort of success for TFC.

Our Reds are beginning another long stretch of playing every three or four days and are already dealing with injury concerns with both Jeremy Hall and Reggie Lambe out for the next couple of weeks. So not only do they need to come together as a new team (again) but staying healthy will be key; especially with the match against CCL rival Santos Lagunas coming up (MLS success is not even a glimmer) as TFC's only chance at producing a memorable end to the season.  Other than the hopefully rejuvenated lineup our Reds will have some inspiration before the game as members of the Bronze medal winning CDN Women's National Team will be honoured before the match - likely in front of hundreds of fans sadly - hopefully they ask the ladies for some pointers on how to defend and hang tough against a very strong opponent.  It's a gorgeous day out; perfect for watching our team. I hope that for once (and that the lure of the CWNT is strong) that the faithful are out in force before the game to cheer our boys on.  Be there or be a parallelogram!


Link-O-Rama: The Yorkies, Waking The Red (Duncan, Duncan and James) and Red Nation Online.

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