Friday, August 24, 2012

Wake Up!

Mood: Sick and tired of being sick and tired
State of Mind: See above
Location: For some reason; BMO field this coming Tuesday

                      Things to do: Blast this at 11 before every TFC match in the locker room

My final TFC tweet of the evening last night was this: 

I could have ended almost every night with those words over this season. It's confounding as a fan to watch them this year. I struggle with each passing game - wait, TFC doesn't have a passing game - to find the passion and joy I once had when watching the team that I love. I can handle watching my team lose - well that's obvious as I've been watching TFC for six years - as long as they put forth the effort. What I'm having shall we say difficulty with is the unsettling trend of sleepwalking through the first half (and beyond) that has plagued the most recent stretch of games.  Add to that the still oft confusing lineup and substitution choices by Mariner and what you get is our Reds still firmly occupying the MLS basement with little to no hope in sight that they might climb out.

Let's get the negatives out the way first (there will be positives; honest):

  1. Andrew Wiedeman again? Really? Why was he back in the starting XI after that sub par performance on Saturday? Was he being rewarded because it was his birthday or because Mariner is convinced of this mythical "best first touch in the modern era" that he's witnessed - because we certainly haven't. Wiedeman put in another quite frankly terrible effort and should not see the starting XI again anytime soon.
  2. RJ in the midfield. I'm not sure why this experiment continues. It is obvious that he does not perform well that deep - he is not a midfielder, nor a winger and is at his best when playing up top.
  3. Silva up top. Luis is a talented young player with speed, a lovely touch and completely at ease in playing as the attacking midfielder (and played worlds better when he dropped back in the second half). He doesn't need to be up top with Hassli in order to score goals, but putting him there takes away what game RJ has and that in effect puts the entire team down a man.
  4. Sleep-walking through the entire first half (and then some). There's nothing enjoyable about watching the two or three players actually putting forth an effort getting more and more frustrated while their less engaged teammates sleepwalk through the game.
  5. Dicoy Williams. While I was delighted to see a more logical back four, it became apparent fairly quickly that Dicoy is just not ready to be out there. He's been a long time away from regular play and obviously needs to be worked into the starting XI slowly.
  6. The Jeremy Hall (and Aaron Maund) sub.  You know what I'm going to say here; where in the hell was Eric Avila? Other than firmly nailed to the bench; again. In a game where TFC couldn't find it's way past the midfield with a map wouldn't it have been nice to see a creative player out there; being you know, creative? 
  7. The long ball. Boy oh boy isn't that fun to watch? And based on tweets from John Molinaro today we can expect another year or so of watching our Reds tire themselves out running aimlessly after the ball. Exciting!
  8. There's more but I don't want to depress you further.
Positives! You didn't believe me when I said there would be positives did you?

  1. Ecks. MOTM for me and pretty much anyone I've talked to. Back in his rightful place at right back, Ecks was a huge (OK, he's short but you know what I mean) force to be reckoned with throughout the entire match. Not only did he bounce back from a boot to the face and two elbows to the head but he kept going after losing one of his boots - that's right, he kept playing - that's effort. But more than that was the energy he brought to the field; one of the few who played the full 90 as though he was actually hmm, trying to win. Astonishing!
  2. Quincy Amarikwa. I've not had much to say about Dr. Q but last night he was a difference maker (maybe he should have played earlier?) and TFC finally came to life once he came onto the pitch.
  3. Umm...OK I'll give Darren O'Dea a bit of love. Again a solid effort from O'Dea and seeing him be vocal and challenge in the box is great. But he needs a solid partner (not named Eckersley) to truly put the TFC defense back together. 
  4. Yeah - I've got nothing else.
That was fun right? Do you feel better after reading the positives list? Yeah, me either. And believe me that negatives list could have been ever so much longer. It's a (not even complete) illustration of what an uninspiring, underwhelming performance our Reds put in against Columbus. The laundry list of frustrations from the fans continues to grow and for those of you (like myself) that continue to show up at BMO Field each week you can see they're voicing that frustration by just not showing up for games. Unless this team can at the very least show that they can put in a sustained effort for a full 90 minutes - see, I'm not even asking them to win; just bloody well try - the spot the empty seat game will become the spot the empty section game very quickly. So I say again to our boys in red - Wake Up!

You also have to ask (or at least I do) what part the lineup and style of play choices made by Mariner are playing in TFC's taking up permanent residence in that damp, unpleasant MLS basement (they should just call in a decorator and be done with it). I realize that depth is not a word that can really be used around TFC all that much but you can only look at the players being put out there each game so often without thinking maybe, just maybe someone else should be given a run out.  And the less said about the long ball the better. Besides, as I said it's not going away any time soon so we'd all better learn to love it. 

What's sad for me about this season - other than the relentless losing, revolving door and continuing mismanagement - is that I'm slowly losing my optimism. I'm the hopeful one among my blogging brethren (as I was reminded of earlier today) who back in the day was always sure that things were going to work out; that this year was going to be better. In fact I'm the one they tease and poke fun at for my insistence on looking on the bright side. I'm not one of the SSH that will give up my seats next year and I'm not going to stop going to games. But I want that feeling back again; where I was so excited about going to see my team play - every game was an event! Now, I'm still excited but it's a dulled, tarnished excitement - I just want that happiness back - for me and for my fellow fans who's expectations get lower and lower with each passing week. I don't expect playoffs (hell, I never did for this season and I don't for next), I just want them to try, to rise above all the behind the scenes nonsense they've had to deal with; to become more than the sum of their parts.  I want my team back. 

See you on Tuesday?

Low Links: The Yorkies, Waking The Red, Typical TFC, RNO and RNO again.

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