Archive for March, 2010
Sunday, March 28th, 2010
TFC served up what many expected in the opener in Columbus. A good team effort with still a few “things we need to work on” according to coach Preki.
Without breaking down every wrong thing in a game, a new coach in a new system with some new players, has to be positive and just keep coaching. Preki was coaching today on the flight home from Columbus via New Jersey. I sat a couple rows ahead of the soft spoken coach and heard him coaching some of the players as they were reviewing video of the 2-0 loss to The Crew.
O’Brien White had a couple chances to score. De Rosario and DeGuzman also had good chances but give William Hesmer of Columbus credit for making the saves.
Work ethic was there, but still not completely where it needs to be in certain situations. In particular while defending set pieces. But name a team that does not have the same issue from time to time.
I saw midfielders still running away from the back line while TFC defenders had the ball. Not always, but the gaps were too big still. That makes it way to easy to defend TFC strikers if everyone is packed in and standing at center waiting for the ball.
Iro’s goal off the set piece was worth his effort. A defender with some climb and real aggression is needed there. The word needed should stand out and name a TFC observer who does not agree.
I get a sense that this group of guys will buy in to what Preki wants.
It is not rocket science, just effort and soccer smarts. For one, don’t waste balls up the pitch. First half TFC continued some of its old habit of punting the ball up the pitch with a forward outnumbered three to one and about six inches shy in height compared to a central defender. By the second half, TFC worked the ball up the pitch on the ground. As a result the team in white started to find ways “around” Crew defenders. Big guys jump, they generally don’t go side to side that well. So make them! Do it for 45 mins and wear them out. That is where the effort becomes effective at the end of the match.
Sunday, March 28th, 2010
Nobody should be surprised by Toronto FC’s start to the season, which resulted in a 2-0 loss on Saturday in Columbus. With a new system headed up by Preki, 4 new players arriving this week and an opening match at Crew Stadium, it was always going to be a difficult battle to come away with even a single point.
First off, let’s start with the positives. O’Brian White had about three decent cracks on goal and although he couldn’t finish, White should that he can put some pretty good juice behind his strikes. As long as De Rosario and De Guzman can give guys like White some service, perhaps TFC’s goal-scoring woes won’t be as bad as initially feared.
There was no doubt that TFC did play better in the second half, after a lack-luster first-half of giving the ball away and watching long-balls sail to nobody. In the second half, I thought TFC generated more attacks when Nana Attakora pushed up the right side of midfield to enter the attack. Only problem with Nana moving forward is that he didn’t always come back (Robbie Rodgers had acres of space to work with on that side) but I’m sure Preki will get that straighten out. Preki was on ‘The Soccer Show’ last Thursday and made the point that while Marvelle Wynne was quick moving forward, he was slow moving back and when you’re a defender, that doesn’t make much sense. Having said all of that, Attakora was still his dominant self, winning a number of challenges throughout the afternoon.
As for the negatives, well, the ball movement wasn’t all that great. We saw a lot of wasted balls in the middle of the park, but I think the pressure that Columbus put on played a large role in that. Nick Garcia was fortunate that his brutal giveaway in the first half didn’t lead to a second goal for Columbus. Stefan Frei made a number of questionable decisions, when coming out of his goal to make a challenge on the ball. I was pleased to see that Preki gave Gabe Gala a chance to start, but unfortunately for the youngster, he was unable to make an impact in his first TFC start since 2007.
Julian De Guzman, he has to offer up more. De Guzman was invisible in the first half but started to show flashes in the second half of why exactly he’s been brought here. Knowing the way De Guzman can play, we’re still waiting to see the best of Julian and here’s to hoping he starts delivering sooner then later.
The best piece of news for Toronto FC is that they have two full weeks to prepare for their next game (Saturday, April 10th, 7:30 at New England, FAN 590). That gives Preki more practice time for a roster that’s still coming together.
– Alex Seixeiro
Friday, March 26th, 2010
It’s is travel day one with TFC and the brand new MLS season. Flight one and game one-Columbus Ohio. Crew Stadium. Ohio’s Ivor Wynne without the history the Tabbies sport in Hamilton. The small prop plane is a good mode of transportation to get everyone to bond quickly. New faces, a new coach, a new mindset are all part of this years journey with TFC. What won’t change is the pressure from the fans in Toronto for this franchise to find a way into the post season/ TFC did not miss by much last year and any rebuild that falls far short this season will not go over well. I am excited as always about a new season in MLS and for TFC. I will miss the faces who have moved on via trade from Toronto over the off season, and welcome the new faces who will learn quickly what it means to wear RED in Toronto. Talk to you from Ohio soon.
Thursday, March 25th, 2010
Toronto FC’s fourth season in Major League Soccer starts up on Saturday in Columbus (4:00pm FAN 590) and the roster is starting to take shape after today’s trade with Colorado. By no stretch of the imagination should this deal surprise anyone as it’s been reported over the last couple of days that Wynne has simply fallen out of favor with head coach Preki. Please spare me the ‘Wynne can play right-midfield’ scenario. He can’t. Wynne has no touch on the ball and can’t deliver a decent cross. Preki made the right move. Don’t be surprised if currently trialists Adrian Cann and Martin Saric get signed at some point over the next seven days to continue filling out the roster. Former Chivas GK Jon Conway is also trying out for the club.
The big time worry I have about this team heading into the 2010 season is there squad depth. Before this deal took place with Colorado, Preki simply had about 15 players to work with heading into the season opener, which is snot enough. Not included in that number was both Wynne and Ali Gerba, who will not play another minute for TFC. What we all have to remember is that Preki signed a 3-year contract to make this his own team. He will not bring in 8 players at the snap of a finger, it’s going to take time, but Preki clearly has a vision and he’s not going to allow anyone to be apart of his core group (Robinson, Serioux, Guevara, Wynne, Gerba, Fellinga, Viiti all out of the picture). With Nick LaBrocca now brought in, along with Ty Harden and Jacob Peterson, were starting to see the players that Preki is after. The type of players that Preki thinks can best fit in his natural 4-4-2 style.
Preki had a knack of taking ordinary teams in Chivas and squeezing enough out of them to make consecutive appearances in the MLS post-season. He’ll have to do that and then some if he wants to guide Toronto FC into it’s first playoff game. As it’s always been, the back-4 remains a huge concern. With Wynne now gone, all signs point to Nana Attakora playing right-back, Jim Brennan the everyday left-back and a combination of Nick Garcia and perhaps Ty Harden in the center. Aside from Attakora, I worry about ‘pace’ with Garcia and Brennan (have to admit, haven’t seen a whole bunch from Harden yet). Emmanuel Gomez could also possibly slot into the central defender’s role, but his youth may keep him away from too many starts. Preki will have to find a way to get that group in the back to play together, or else it’ll be another long season for goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Remember, this is a team that last season, allowed 16 goals from the 75th minute on.
In the middle of the park is where I’m most at ease. With De Guzman, De Rosario, Cronin, LaBrocca, Peterson, Ibrahim, Gala and Sangyang, there’s definitely options there. With LaBrocca brought in, perhaps Preki will play him deeper in the pitch with Sam Cronin to allow Julian De Guzman to advance a little further in the field. Jacob Peterson is a right-midfielder and should see time there when he returns from injury. Ibrahim, Gala and Sangyang will all have to fight for spots, but Preki seems to be the type of coach that would award a player who competes hard both in games and training.
Where Dwayne De Rosario plays is a whole different story. With injury to Chad Barrett and Ali Gerba’s departure, Preki has limited options up front. O’Brien White is really the only striker that’s available and White could have De Rosario as his strike partner for Saturday’s contest in Columbus. De Rosario scored 11 goals last season, playing all over the pitch, but because of the lack of depth at the striker position, Dwayne may be forced to start-up front unless a true striker is brought in during the season.
Bottom line is that this team could very well struggle to score goals and struggle to keep the ball out of the back of their net. But if there’s one thing that TFC fans should do, it’s remain patient with Preki and let his plan evolve. The best move that Mo Johnston made in the off-season was bringing in Preki. Let’s see what he’s made of.
– Alex Seixeiro
Monday, March 15th, 2010
Friday, March 12th, 2010
“Major League Soccer’s negotiating team, including Commissioner Garber, met for three days this week with the leadership of the Players Union together with George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service,” said MLS President Mark Abbott.
“We have an understanding with the Union and the mediator that we will not publicly discuss what takes places during these bargaining sessions.
“As such, we were disappointed to see comments from a number of players characterizing the status of the negotiations and the possibility of a strike.
“The meetings this week were productive and we have scheduled a number of additional meetings. And while we can’t discuss what occurs across the bargaining table, we do believe that the players’ comments do not accurately reflect the proposals that we have made to address the players’ concerns or the productive nature of the discussions between MLS and the Players Union.”
Please note that the three days of meetings consisted of one day with the mediator and then two days with the Union and mediator (plus MLS, of course).
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
TFC has not said it, the new coach, the GM nor anyone else to this point. Nothing as I write this is on the record about the release of the Welsh Middie.
Coach Preki was left to confirm the news Monday that Carl had moved on and was trying out with New York. Preki confirmed Carl had been released, and then basically said “not my problem”.
I understand Preki has better things to deal with than the departure of any player, but a “thank you”, even if fake, might have been nice.
The so called released number 33 was a two time team MVP in its short history, as well as a leader when it came to giving time to local charity or “just a fan”. A player I think would be worthy of someone offering a thanks for the effort while you were here.
Even if its true that Carl wanted out of TFC’s camp, I think money and egos aside, a thank you would have been nice from somebody officially tied to the organization.
Yes I understand a contract that pays over 300-thousand dollars is a pretty big thank you.
Could you imagine the Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays, Argos or Rock releasing a team MVP or an original roster member and not saying “thanks but it’s time to move on”, or “thanks but we need to get rid of some salary to move forward”, or “thanks, but we have a younger, cheaper player who is playing better at that position.” All would be accepted by the faithful fans of TFC who only want a playoff team.
I don’t think the fans care who wears the teams crest at this moment in the clubs history, as long as they get them to the post season.
I say thanks to Carl for being an approachable and like-able guy to deal with on my end as a traveling member of the media, and the teams radio play by play voice.
In a perfect world when we are asked to move on, or ask to be moved, there is a spot somewhere for each of us.
Friday, March 5th, 2010
Now that I’m back from the Olympics, I can safely say that I’m ready for the start of the 2010 MLS season….if there is one. If you’ve been living under a rock, the current CBA expired on February 25th when the league and the players union failed to come to terms on a new deal. The players want free agency and guaranteed contracts among other things. The league seems willing to have the players compete this season under the expired CBA (yes, apparently that’s an option). The season is set to begin in three weeks time.
It’s hard to gauge whether the players are prepared to strike but over the last few days, it seems more noticeable that at least in public, the word ‘strike’ is being used a lot more by those who play the game. Case and point, Julian De Guzman. I filled in for Nigel and Bob on ‘The Soccer Show’ Thursday night and had a chance to speak with Julian. I asked him about the players going on strike to prove a point and from what I gathered, Julian seemed pretty sure of himself that the players as a whole are ready to sit out if they don’t get what they want.
Here’s the interview:
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said earlier this week that he’s confident of the season starting on time. Garber also admitted that the league will not lock the players out and that they’re willing to continue negotiating during the season. What this does is effectively put the players in a corner. The league doesn’t seem like they’re going to budge, so if the players are serious, they’ll have to take the next step and strike.
As for Toronto FC, they spent the last three weeks in Florida, working on Preki’s training camp plan. TFC are back home and they’ll continue working out in Oakville until March 11th, when they travel to Carolina for the Challenge Cup in Charleston. The season (fingers crossed) is slated to begin on March 27th for TFC, who have a road date with rivals Columbus.
I look forward to another year of updating this blog with Toronto FC related items. Your input is always welcome.
– Alex Seixeiro