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TFC 2010 | Week#9

Toronto FC Disarms Revolution

Toronto FC 1  –  0  New England Revolution

Outcome is Everything

MLS managers take note. Toronto FC might have been riding the wave of home field advantage on Saturday afternoon, but the team managed to play a decent match and notch a win. The significant point is that TFC managed this feat without Dwayne De Rosario and without our Designated Player, Julian de Guzman. Significantly, this performance was achieved in the absence of TFC’s most consistent and effective defender, Nana Attakora, also sidelined by injury. Preki put out a roster that included some players that have had little playing time to date, like Fuad Ibrahim, and Toronto FC looked much as it had over the past few weeks.

Toronto FC has now run up an undefeated streak that includes four MLS victories at BMO, another against the Impact in Montreal and a string of scoreless ties including one against the MLS-leading LA Galaxy on the road. The core of this success seems to come from the ‘system’ Preki has put in place, a hard-working regimen of team defending before all else. The net result is quite pleasing for the fans who have watched previous seasons, where the Reds were regularly undone by spontaneous self-destructions that negated whatever positive they could put on the pitch together. At the start of the 2010 season, at the home opening game for the Revolution, we had to bear witness to that kind of disaster. Squandering a 1-0 lead at half, Toronto FC’s back line committed lethal mistakes and the Revolution scored 4 second half goals that made the solid first half look like a fluke.

If anything can prove times have changed, it was Saturday’s match. Toronto FC’s non-stars, a talented bunch to be sure but not the principal headliners, made it clear that Toronto FC is not the same team that walked on the field in April. The Reds are now a side that don’t simply cave under sustained pressure. They are a team that is hard to beat. They are a team that can win – with or without the big names on the pitch.

Mission Accomplished?

Hopefully, this is isn’t one of those Bush on the carrier moments. Preki has been preaching patience and promising results. The first part of the season tested that forecast, and the howls for Mo Johnston’s head on a pike crested in a fury of discussion board flame-outs and reached popular press through scandals of the disgruntled former player and coach kind. Sure, it would be fair to footnote this weekend’s victory with a mention that New England has been in a winless slump since the match earlier this season. They are also a side hampered by injury and struggling to regain consistent form. Nonetheless, their star Shalrie Joseph made a surprise return from rehab to play this week and it still wasn’t enough to turn the tide.

One thing is certain now, Toronto FC may not be providing scintillating highlight reel material week in and week out, but they’re also not going to be patsy’s staring on the losing end of those reels either. Preki’s strategy is of the tortoise wins the race variety. Moving forward, out of a brutal month of Voyageur Cup games on top of MLS matches, Toronto FC will get a chance to rest and regroup through the break for the World Cup. They’ll also face stronger MLS opponents over through June, with dates against Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy ahead. By Canada Day, and the 12th week of the MLS season, we should have a clearer view of whether the transformation is complete and the ship is truly on course.

And beyond that, with the transfer window opening, we may see new faces arrive on the scene again. The 2010 season is still young, but it’s clear that Toronto FC are a team on the move.

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