Archive for March, 2009
Monday, March 30th, 2009
TFC can’t be disappointed with opening the season with four points on the road. The single point of the four coming in the stadium occupied by the defending MLS champion Columbus Crew.
Saturday afternoon The Crew and TFC were playing short two starters. The atmosphere was genuine with thousands of TFC supporters in red behind the goal opposite the stage end of the stadium. At the other end, in their corner, the black and gold of The Crews faithful.
TFC fans were ready for the hoisting of the MLS cup prior to kick off with newspapers held to faces, as if to not even be aware of the defending champs moment with the trophy. A brilliant and very polite way to say “oh, I am so sorry I missed that”.
Vitti in up front with Barrett, Velez on the back line and taking the long throw ins for TFC, with Cronin and Harmse shifting a little to make up for the loss of Carl Robinson.
Stefan Frei could not do much about a penalty kick from Schelotto in the 30th minute. But the TFC rookie did stone Emmanuel Ekpo with a brilliant diving save in the first half. A hip injury came of the save, and Frie finished the half but was done for the day, and on came Greg Sutton, who kept the lads in it in the second half.
Pablo Vitti gave big defender Chad Marshall a decent run on the afternoon, and once Danny Dichio came on for Chad Barrett, Marshall was even more occupied. This played a major role in the game tieing own goal.
Marshall had been winning everything in the air near the box, and why not, he towers over most. When Dwayne De Rosario took a free kick from the left side of the pitch, and just inside the Crew’s half, it wasn’t the head of Marshall that thwarted another TFC launch into the box, but the head of a much shorter Gino Padula that attempted to flick the ball out to touch or out of harms way, not Harmse. Instead the ball went into the air and behind crew goalie William Hesmer.
TFC should be given full marks for what was a very honest effort in the defending champs territory. The men in red did not quit, and the goal-tending of both Frei and Sutton was outstanding.
Game two on the road for yours truly, and already much more comfortable with the team and getting to know the players and coaches as best I can.
You should know TFC played the game, thankfully after a Friday of rest followed by an evening workout, after what was a very rough flight into Ohio on Thursday. If you have ever flown on the 37 seat, twin prop plane with AC, it can be an interesting experience. Try it without any air-conditioning of any kind on the plane. Sitting on the tarmac, before a bumpy and scary at times take off. Even getting on the plane was an adventure for yours truly and others who noted the paint peeling off the side of the plane like you would see on old wood shingles on a barn about 100 years old.
The ride home was a 9 am flight through Chicago, where wet snow had blanketed O’Hare airport, and delayed flights. Again, stuck waiting on a plane, for 40 minutes to get to our gate. At least air-conitioning was working with AA!
I offered to drive the bus next time its a six hour trip for the lads. Not sure TFC listened, but I bet you would find a few takers!
One other thing. I understand atmosphere in every sport is its own and its different. But throwing smoke canisters at a soccer game, the logic escapes me. Specially when the smoke canisters wind up in your keepers area, and your team is down 1-0! Some explain the logic of how that helps your team!
Until the home opener, Keep it Red!
Tuesday, March 24th, 2009
Game one is in the books and what a win for TFC. The way the lads won the game is what impressed me. The Wizards pushed back, after TFC looked like they might run away with it, up 2-0. David Arnuad, whom I spoke with after the Wizards practice Friday, with a rocket of a goal and then of-course his second goal to make things interesting.
For game one of a first time radio call of a soccer game, the sight-lines could not have been worse. I was situated behind home plate, with a black net hanging in-front of me. Anything in the second half, or father side of the pitch, was a guessing game at times for these eyes, even with my glasses. I am told by those around the league, that it was the worst stadium to broadcast a game from, so with that I look forward to the remainder of the season, being able to see the players is an issue.
I also now have a feel for TFC. The players on the pitch. Their tendencies, who makes runs and when. I know coach Carver a little better and understand the way he is coaching his lads to play.
I am very excited for Columbus this week. A big test for TFC, who will be without the man who scored two goals for them in the opener, as Amado Guevara is off to join his national team for a world cup qualifier. Carl Robinson could be tired from travel as well from an international commitment with Wales this week.
If TFC show the same commitment to defence they showed in KC, along with the creative flare from Dwayne De Rosario, opening up lanes for fellow attackers and midfielders who join the rush, the boys will stick in well against the defending MLS champs this Saturday on The Fan590!
Hats off to the play of rookie goalie Stefan Frei as well. in his MLS debut. He directed his team well and took command of the game as best he could in KC.
Oh the headline. “A three boner” well, that comes from a dinner out at a Kansas City Bar B Q spot know as Gates. Not being able to make up my mind, I ordered a combo platter of Bar B Q! Out with Jason de Vos and Luke Wileman of Goltv, the three of us could have eaten all that was on my plate. I tapped out with some ham and all my fries still to go when the hostess wandered over and said “you have that look in your eye, you are done!” I said yes I am. At this point the hostess shot back, “well that ain’t nothin, you should have tried to eat the four boner!” Excuse me?!!!! She was referring to the huge beef ribs on the plate, my platter had three bones on it. As it turns out, TFC picked up three points in their first game of the 2009 MLS season. Hence going forward TFC picked up a “three boner”
Saturday, March 21st, 2009
John Carver will take it.
For the first time in franchise history, Toronto FC opened their season with a victory, going into Kansas and leaving with a 3-2 win over the Wizards. With a few question marks here and there, TFC were impressive in their season opener. Chad Barrett could have scored two goals within the first 15 minutes, but a poor chip attempt to go along with a brutal breakaway chance saw this game level early on.
TFC looked the better team off the top and rightfully opened the scoring thanks to their captain. Jim Brennan did a nice job to win the ball in midfield, sprung De Rosario who then in return fed a streaking Brennan with a perfect pass on the left-hand side of K.C’s box. Toronto’s captain made no mistake and buried the one-timer with a wonderful shot off his left boot in the 35th minute. TFC had the lead heading into the break.
In the 2nd half, TFC withstood a bit of K.C pressure before getting goal number two on the night. Carl Robinson chipped a pass over to Amado Guevara at the top of the box, who eluded not one, not two, but three K.C defenders, turned to his right and curled in his first of the season past Wizards keeper Kevin Hartman. It was a beautiful turn from the Honduran, who when he was not complaining to the referee, possessed some good skill on the night.
Kansas City then got one back thanks to a wonderful strike from Davy Arnaud, but Toronto FC quickly doubled their lead once again. It was Carl Robinson who fed De-Ro on the left, Dwayne smacked a shot on Hartman who did well to save, but the rebound went to the foot of Guevara who tapped home his second goal of the game. TFC regained their two-goal advantage. Once again, Kansas City maintained a solid chunk of the ball and had Toronto on their heels. The pressure paid off as for the second time tonight, Arnaud was given too much space outside of the box and one-timed home a blast that gave rookie keeper Steffan Frei no chance of saving.
It was late in the second half and TFC held on to a one-goal lead. Could TFC hang on, something they had trouble with last year? Well, it looked like Toronto had it in the bag when TFC was awarded a penalty kick thanks to a hand-ball in the Kansas area. Guevara wanted a chance at his hat-trick, but he let the teams PK taker (Dwayne De Rosario) take it, looking for his first goal for TFC. Unfortunately, De-Ro blasted his penalty kick high and wide to the left. It remained 3-2 TFC.
For the remaining minutes, Toronto had to defend in numbers and that they did. Danny Dichio replaced Chad Barrett and was crucial defensively on a couple of set pieces. Sam Cronin started in midfield and stopped K.C wingers from crossing the ball in from the left flank. The central defensive pairing of Kevin Harmse and Adrian Serioux did a relitively good job, with Serioux winning almost every ball that came his way.
TFC held off the Wizards and when the four minutes of extra time was up, the final whistle was blown. It’s only one game, but plenty to be pleased about. De Rosario was in on two goals and should have scored on the PK. Cronin and Frei did their jobs in their Toronto debuts. Guevara showed flashes of brilliance in the middle and the back-4 held up for the most part. The breakdown in midfield on the two K.C goals will be a concern, but the quality of Arnaud’s strikes were first class.
Toronto scored three goals on the road while managing to hang on late.
I think the reds will have a joyous flight back to the big smoke.
Toronto FC 3-2 Kansas City
33′ Jim Brennan
53′ Amado Guevara
56′ Davy Arnaud
62′ Amado Guevara
76′ Davy Arnaud
Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
It is good to have soccer back in this city.
For soccer nuts like myself, having the MLS schedule beginning in March is perfect. August through May, you got your Champions League, E.P.L, and European seasons in full flight. Once the summer rolls around, World Cup/Euro Qualifiers dominate soccer headlines during the odd numbered years. But with TFC in the fold, it makes the warm months that much more enjoyable.
Toronto FC begin their third season in Major League Soccer this Saturday in Kansas City (8:30pm kickoff, FAN 590) and the state of the franchise couldn’t be any better. Season tickets for BMO Field have capped out at 16,000. Another 14,000 are on the waiting list, and single-game tickets were swooped up in a short amount of time this past Monday. Anyone out there still think that soccer in this city can’t work? Yeah, thought so.
Most of the pundits have already finalized their season previews, and I wasn’t surprised at all to see Toronto FC in a playoff scenario. Sure, it’s a lot of pressure to put on a club that’s only been around a few years, but when you look at the talent that’s been assembled, it surely seems that the post-season is on it’s way.
It was interesting to listen to GM Mo Johnston, who said yesterday that he went to MLSE this off-season with a plan of the three players that the club wanted to add before the 09′ season began. Dwayne De Rosario, Pablo Vitti and Adrian Serioux were the three Mo was talking about. MLSE ok’d the idea, Mo went out and got the three, and away they went. Issues needed addressing, and Johnston went out and improved his defense, midfield and forward positions.
When asked yesterday, Head Coach John Carver wouldn’t name his starting keeper for this weekend, but I believe the job is still Greg Sutton’s to lose. With first-round pick Stefan Frei and Brian Edwards in the mix, TFC are enjoying the 3-way battle for the starting keeper’s job. Sutton isn’t the best keeper in the league and never will be, but with Serioux and possibly another CB on it’s way, I think Sutton has the capability to have a very good season, granted that the back-4 is improved with Marco Velez on the bench and Tyrone Marshall out West with Seattle. By all accounts, Frei has had a very good training camp and if Sutton stumbles at all, it’s believed that Frei can step in right away. Edwards does have the stuff to be a backup in this league, nothing more then that.
With a healthy Serioux in the mix, John Carver already has an improved defense on his hands, and with another CB on the way, Toronto’s back-four could be in for a much better season then the one that just past. Last season, the Reds gave up way too many goals, especially in crucial late-game situations. Serioux’s hard-nosed approach will bring some much needed intensity to the central defense, with Jim Brennan and Marvelle Wynne patrolling the left and right sides of defense.
With Guevara, Robinson, Ricketts and De Rosario, Toronto FC have one of if not the best midfield in all of MLS. Talk of moving Carl Robinson to CB is nonsense. TFC needs Robinson in his defensive midfield roll to clean up, something he’s very good at doing. Carl even said yesterday that he’s given no thought to playing CB and I can understand why. The task for Carver is to get De-Ro and Guevara on the same page. Guevara has always been a creative midfielder who enjoys staying central, and with the opportunity of having De-Ro to this left and Ricketts to his right, options will be plentiful for the Honduran. The benefit of having Dwayne De Rosario is that he can play many different positions. I believe Carver won’t hesitate to move De-Ro around the pitch if things aren’t up to snuff. De-Ro brings pace, a great vision of the field and finish. He is the club’s first true attacking midfielder and being a local boy, I expect Dwayne to have a very productive debut season with Toronto FC. Also, look out for first-round pick, Sam Cronin, who could play a very important role when TFC lose Guevara and De Rosario to international duty.
Chad Barrett and Pablo Vitti have only had the preseason to work together, but TFC’s staff are very pleased with how the two strikers have meshed thus far. If Barrett’s cramping issues are put to rest this season, then a partnership with the crafty Argentine can give Carver the offensive boost that’s needed. TFC’s leading goal scorer last season had a grand total of five goals, which is just not acceptable. With the midfield as creative as it is, expect for either one of Vitti or Barrett to break the 10-goal barrier, giving the club a legit scorer. Danny Dichio will come off the bench to give Carver a bit of height and we could be seeing O’Brien White later this summer.
Having said all of that, on paper, this is a playoff team. The real question is can John Carver get a very skillful group to play together? I think he can. Carver is a very intelligent man and now has real options. The only piece missing is another CB to play with Serioux, but Toronto FC fans should expect a heck of season from their reds. As Carl Robinson said yesterday: “We should make the playoffs”. I feel they’ll do just that.
- – - Alex Seixeiro