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NCC 2011 | TFC 2011 | Week#11

Wednesday Wipeout

A Mulligan

Is there a soccer-specific term for ‘do-over’? (Maybe we can call it a ‘Terry David Mulligan” out of respect for Vancouver).

Reds fans should be thrilled with the outcome of Wednesday’s deluge. It wiped away a determined crowd at BMO Field. It bested the pitch’s drainage system. And, it also zeroed the score and forced a complete game replay of the NCC final.

Praise be to Odin or whomever it was that brought torrential rain and lightening upon BMO. Whichever master you believe had control of that variable, the result favoured TFC. The frustrated, if not furious, Whitecaps saw their lead and likely victory erased by the weather. The reds lived to see another day of NCC. Whiney Vancouverites gained another complaint against Toronto.

The Aftermath

Is there a formula for calculating the suck? How can Toronto FC turn it down and turn up the good? The skills seem to be there. The strategy too. In the arithmetic of the waterlogged NCC is a proof that Vancouver are (a) more used to playing in rain, (b) have Toronto FC’s number  or (c) that TFC prefer to play limp and uncommitted football, even in cup games. Or, maybe (d) all of the above.

We’re currently ahead of the Whitecaps in the MLS standings. I’m sure that doesn’t mean much, but they are struggling too.

On Wednesday, Toronto FC dominated play in the first half and created more chances in attack. Yet Vancouver’s Eric Hassli ripped one hard shot into our goal and the ‘caps sat back and smugly defended their lead. Yet again, the Reds could not mount anything persistently dangerous inside Vancouver’s final third. And home advantage, whatever that may be, sure didn’t seem to figure in the math.

The Closer

Sadly, Wednesday’s performance on the field had me feeling like last weekend’s game in Colorado was a fluke. The Reds just don’t seem to be able to finish a complete 90 minute match. They’re lacking a closer when it comes to netting goals. And they’re currently lacking the capacity to close out the a whole game as a group.

The longer the teams played Wednesday night, the less it looked like TFC could score. Sure, the conditions sucked. And they got worse by the minute. It seemed, however, more an issue of resolve rather than any missing skill, strategy or chemistry.  It was a frustrating return to problems that have been dogging this team all season.

The Philadelphia Union also are having issues scoring goals lately. Yet they are also finding a way to win games. Their defence can carry the load, and their record is enviable. As a team, they are bringing a lot of confidence and composure to today’s match against Toronto FC.

It’s been a long and grinding run for the Reds through April and May. Tired, and struggling to find their feet, the NCC wipeout could be a boon to their mental and physical fatigue. They have to find the rhythm and stamina they attained in Colorado.

A month from now, they can try to crest the Whitecaps again. It’ll be two tries in the same week to be precise. In the meantime, they must put the almost defeat behind them and focus on last weekend’s game plan.

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