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TFC 2011 | Week#2

Whitecapped

30 minutes of showmanship, 2 goals scored and 4 goals allowed

Toronto FC

Until they allowed Vancouver to score a second goal in the first half, TFC put on a display of what they’ve been training to achieve. Javier Martina ran the flank, De Ro prowled the midfield aggressively and Winter’s total soccer came through in ball possession. There were flashes of athletic ability, creative instincts and a distinct cohesiveness to their run of play.

De Ro’s first goal, an answer to the Whitecaps’ first one five minutes earlier, was a well-earned and decisively finished play between Maicon Santos and the team captain. Santos’ second half goal, a candidate for the MLS Goal of the Week , simply was a great individual effort.

 

That’s where the good news ends. And the longest shadow cast from game #1 extends from Toronto FC’s back line. After a strong performance in 2010, and retaining the core players into this roster, it was somewhat surprising to see them struggle so badly. Even allowing for great Vancouver play and some bounces that went Whitecaps way, the TFC defenders looked hapless and disorganized. There were far too many instances of back-line passing becoming gifting the ball to Whitecaps, sins often committed under relatively little pressure.

Nonetheless, there are signs of real gains ahead for the 2011 squad. The principle now guiding the team’s effort was evident. With some time to gel as a unit, the Reds look like they might find a productive and exciting groove on the pitch. The return to health and starting status of Julian de Guzman will surely improve that fortune.

Hopefully, it will be enough to allow Dwayne De Rosario even more confidence and opportunity to press the attack. The addition of some side-line extending targets, like Martina, ought to add greater dimension to the arsenal they can bring to bear on opponents. Maybe Maicon Santos and Alan Gordon will prove effective targets and weapons in their own right. Santos certainly made a good case for himself in Vancouver last weekend.

Vancouver Whitecaps

The Whitecaps deserve their props. They played a solid game against the Reds.

Davide Chiumiento, in particular, showed surprising class as a playmaker in TFC’s half. He’s definitely one to watch. Eric Hassli and Alain Rochat were in top form last Saturday. A two goal outing for the newly minted Designated Player put Hassli on the highlight reel for all to see. And Rochat also showed himself to be a valuable addition to the Vancouver line-up as he cruised the outside lanes.

Not surprisingly, Jay DeMerit made himself a presence on the field, and it was hard not to feel a bit jealous of the Whitecaps’ defensive standard bearer. Who couldn’t use a centre back like him in the MLS? And finally, there were the local boys Terry Dunnfield and Russell Teibert who both put on great performances. In short, Vancouver could not have hoped for a better effort from the team, nor a better outcome.

My only lingering thought about Vancouver, in the aftermath of last week’s game, was that they might look like a different team quite quickly in 2011. Once injuries, call-ups and other issues come to bear on these starters, the Whitecaps line-up might not look much more experienced than the youthful bench of our TFC.┬áSometime this coming Saturday, the giddy euphoria of thrashing Toronto FC in their MLS debut should fizzle out. DeMerit’s out for this week’s match, so he can play for the US National team. Injuries have probably claimed Teibert and Chiumiento for game 2, among several others.

Welcome to the grindhouse.

I expect our next meeting, June 29th at BMO Field, will be a very different contest.

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