TFC 2010 | Week#4

TFC Stands And Delivers

Yoda Says "Win You Must"

Yoda a TFC fan? Or Preki in green paint?

And Win They Did

It won’t go down in history as the prettiest victory. It likely won’t even be remembered two months from now, but last night’s performance is a big milestone for Toronto FC this season. It’s Preki’s first win and it was proof the squad could stand the heat in the kitchen. It was a baptism by fire for three new players (Usanov, Cann and Peterson) and it was a satisfying retort to claims that the club couldn’t beat expansion teams (a silly allegation based on Seattle’s arrival in the MLS last season). Above all, last night’s game showed us some potential for what could be ahead this season. A bit more time to work together and settle in, and this team will not be the pushover that coughed up 6 goals in two games.

The crowd at BMO Field was relatively subdued throughout the match. Anxiety clearly gripping the stands. For most of the first half, it seemed like the same emotion was controlling the game too. Neither the Reds nor the Union risked much in attack. Cagey and tentative, both teams struggled to keep their shape and it was clear nobody wanted to make the first mistake. With the fan base a non-factor last night, it turned out the officiating would be Toronto FC’s 12th man.

Danny Califf, the Union’s seasoned centre back, was running a bit of interference on a back pass to their keeper and got his arm up in front of Julian de Guzman. There was certainly a smack to the face involved, but the referee’s decision to throw a straight red card to Califf seemed heavy handed. Dwayne De Rosario then potted his second goal of the season on the resulting free kick. It was a low, hard drive on goal that Union keeper, Chris Seitz, couldn’t contain. The ball squibbed in, and elation ensued.

With the halftime whistle about to blow, Toronto FC’s focus faltered and they allowed the Union’s left back, Jordan Harvey to break in unmarked from the flank. He hauled down a through ball in our area and helped himself to a free shot on goal. Stefan Frei never really had a chance on the play, and the half ended with the score tied. It could have been a deflating moment for fans and players alike. Thankfully, everyone seemed to understand that a man advantage, home field and forty five minutes to play gave us lots of opportunity to finish the deal.

The first half saw Preki field a 4-5-1 formation with DeRo the lone forward and the midfield loaded up with de Guzman, Saric, LaBrocca, Sanyang and, weirdly, Dan Gargan. It successfully clogged up the middle of the park and never really allowed the Union to generate much forward progress, their lone goal being the exception in an effort that saw little real threat from their Moreno – Le Toux pairing. Maksim Usanov may have been the most pleasant surpise of the night, however, as he showed some real grit in defense and ran nice overlaps in some late first half attacking flourishes.

Preki then shifted the team into a 4-4-2 for the second half. Chad Barrett and O’Brian White making their way onto the park to attack in tandem, and pulling DeRo back toward the midfield. Even though it has to be noted they were playing a 10 man side, the formation did start to show some attacking promise while also holding fast in defense. Julian de Guzman started to come to life in distributing balls, though it is still clear he’s capable of far more than he was delivering.

The Union never really looked good for another goal, and Toronto FC poured it on. Barrett haters will note that he missed a header on an open goal and chose to pass rather than shoot on a break into the box. To be fair, Barrett barely missed the header on a sweetly played set up for the cross, and his pass across goal to DeRo was a brilliant choice and should also have been a goal. Sadly, DeRo hit the crossbar when it seemed impossible to miss the gaping goal mouth.

TFC’s 12th Man? Yep, the Referee.

Once again, the Referee was the deciding force in the scoring. On a break into the box, White was hauled down by Chris Seitz and the Ref awarded us a penalty kick. It was probably a fair call, but White’s run was not directly on goal and there’s some argument that Seitz played the ball fairly. Either way, nobody at BMO Field was complaining when DeRo delivered his third goal of 2010 from the spot.

Phew. 3 points. Proved we could win. Proved we have something to hope for in a team that’s just forming. Maybe we can even hope for some points on the road… because our third game in 8 days comes around this Sunday. Let’s hope LaBrocca and Peterson have some fire for drying up the Rapids (the team that recently traded them to us) this weekend in Colorado.

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