Your Ad Here

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Toronto vs New England recap

What happened: At the core of the fantastic sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica is the theory of cyclical history, which in the show is summed up effectively by the religion of the show's characters with the following axiom:

  "All of this has happened before & all of this will happen again"

Well Toronto FC sure did its damnedest to see to it that art imitated life. On Wednesday, TFC blew a lead late, thanks to a fatal combination of incompetent defending & a series of highly questionable substitutions from new head coach Paul Mariner that resulted in dropped points for the Reds against the Houston Dynamo, & on Saturday, The Reds blew a lead late, thanks to a fatal combination of incompetent defending, & a series of highly questionable substitutions from new head coach Paul Mariner that resulted in dropped points for the Reds against the New England Revolution. Both results lead to Reds fans letting out a collective scream from the tops of our frustrated lungs.

What went right: The maddening mindfrak ending to the game has caused the positives of Toronto, of which there were a decent amount of, that were on display against the Revs to have been somewhat obscured. However they must be highlighted.

First off, spare a thought for poor Milos Kocic. Our keeper more than did his fair share to put Toronto in a winning position. Both of the goals he conceded can, in no way, be blamed on him. To borrow a hockey analogy, he stood on his head for the 90 & will be very hard done by to not get a clean sheet, let alone a W. Facing a barrage of 10 Revolution shots on target that went unanswered by TFC, Milos met them head on, making numerous highlight reel saves, the kind of which would be the equal of any you would find by the best of the world. He has been a rock this year between the posts, but alas, he is only one man. Kocic cannot be expected to do it all by himself.

Secondly, there's Ashtone Morgan. The young LB had, beyond a shadow of a doubt, his best game of the season Saturday. A constant threat going forward, the young Canadian international recorded the assists on both of the Reds' 2 goals, delivering a pair of fine crosses to enable Ryan Johnson & Danny Koevermans to find the back of the net, & nearly scored one himself just after the start of the 2nd half driving the ball just  bit outside after a stellar end to end run. He still needs to work on the defensive aspect of his game, but of the 4 defender on for the late game collapse, he was perhaps the least culpable.

As well, the switch to the more standard 4-4-2 system is seeing the blossoming of an effective strike partnership of aforementioned RJ & Koev. Koevermans followed up his brace vs the Dynamo with his 6th of the season & RJ has rediscovered his early season form, netting TFC's 2nd of the day. The 2 worked extremely well together, their individual strengths perfectly complementing the others. They also benefited from linking up with Eric Avila. The young MF who was, inexplicably, used much too infrequently by Aron Winter for my taste, has made the most of his opportunity under Paul Mariner, was effective in leading the charge from MF & showed why so many have regarded him as one of the most underrated players in MLS in  recent years. While the lack of depth remains a problem needing to be addressed once the transfer window opens, much of TFC's offence appear to be getting sorted out, if the last 2 games are any indication.

What Went Wrong: If the offence is beginning to sort itself out, TFC's defence remains the notorious hot mess we've come to know this season. Once Frings & JDG, who again had another DP contract-worthy performance, the back line fell apart as it did in Houston 72 hours prior. When the most experienced member of your back 4 happens to be Richard Eckersley, you are going to have problems. Shape & composure disappeared & chaos reigned & New England pounced & earned a point that they really did not deserve, when you considered how poor they were for the 1st 65 minutes of the game. Reds fans mustn't just hope, but flat out demand, defensive reinforcements this year. We must not, in any way, shape or form, see Sideshow Logan again take to the pitch for the Reds, he is quite simply not good enough & had no business whatsoever being out there in crunch time.

With that said, as much as we can criticize Emory's play, & rightly so, we cannot overlook how he even got on the pitch in the 1st place. Paul Mariner, again, must be condemned for his poor choice of substitutions. Now I can understand the logic of why he chose to sub off Julian, & Frings. The team is in the midst of a diabolical run of matches from now until the end of July and, with the big match against the Impact mid-week, he wanted to give his stars a rest, which they certainly deserved. If the team had sufficient replacement on the bench to make this work, it'd be praised, but to take off your team's 2 most important leaders, the players who maintain order & focus on the pitch for an attacking winger & a crap defender, the head coach must be raked over the coals. Mariner should have learned from what happened & not repeated the same lapse in judgement.

Man of the Match: For me, it was between Kocic & Morgan & I decided to select Kocic, if for no other reason than out of pity. He delivered, dare I say it, a world class performance in goal & was let down by a defence far too inferior than his efforts merit.

Bottom Line: Defence may not get you points, but it can bloody well cost you. The offence stirring to life & players operating in a system in which they can thrive & perform well in is genuine cause for optimism, but until the defence is sorted out, once & for all, Toronto FC's season will continue to resemble a BSG episode & will drop points again, and again, and again, and again...

No comments: