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TFC 2011 | Week#12

Keeping It Sporting

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Still Standing

Both teams were looking to escape from the misery of the past few weeks. And both teams were likely satisfied with a scoreless draw. Toronto FC rebounded from last week’s drubbing with a clean sheet. Sporting KC closed out a ten game road trip with a point. Exciting stuff, huh.

MLS geeks might find it thrilling that referee Yader Reyes managed to go a full 90 minutes without issuing a red card or awarding a spot kick. You’ll recall he was the playmaker for FC Dallas’ penalty winner against TFC not so long ago. He also tossed Eric Hassli earlier this season. On this past Saturday night, even Mr. Reyes seemed to be rolling in a low gear with few ambitions. For that, I guess, we can be thankful.

Fans at BMO endured another night packed in cold storage. Their reward for chilling in the open air was a dreary, heartless match. Neither team looked strong or resourceful enough to attack with intent. Instead, the blues and Reds foundered back and forth making little of the few opportunities that opened for each side.

Generally, I only can allow myself to hope for signs of some progress each week. A clean sheet will have to stand as that positive note. Of course, it has to be mentioned that it was against the league’s worst team. And let’s face it, it only really seems significant after last week’s annihilation by the Union.

Doneil Day

Doneil Henry’s injury time appearance almost resulted in a header goal for the young defender. Unfortunately, SKC’s keeper made a good save to keep it out. The worst part is that Henry came in for Nana Attakora, who subbed out with an injury. Up until he was hurt, Attakora had put in a good game too – his best of the year. This may be Henry’s lucky week, and he might see some starting time in the weeks ahead, even if Nana bounces back.

With Adrian Cann done for 2011 and Dicoy Williams away for Gold Cup duties, an injury to Attakora will have serious ramifications for TFC. No news has yet emerged on his condition. Ty Harden has been shaky of late. And if he’s going to be the central anchor for the back line, you know we’re in for some uneasy days ahead.

As if it were the band aid, Toronto FC announced today that Gordon, Peterson and Zavarise all resumed training this week. While that won’t make up for the holes falling open in the back line, it is good news. It will be interesting to see if Gordon’s return sparks more offensive fire. While he was fit, TFC at least seem to bring purpose and threat to their attack. In his absence, most of that has vanished. Just for his free kicks and corners alone, Peterson’s presence will improve the team. Saturday’s game pretty much proved that there was nobody else out there to deliver that service.

The Road Ahead

With the home stretch mostly behind them now, Toronto FC have forsaken whatever advantage that offered in gaining points on the MLS table. The pessimists are already swearing TFC has lost its chance at a playoff spot. More realistically, the Reds’ performance so far isn’t suggesting they deserve such a reward. They did manage two wins at home, though, and that’s not terrible – it’s better than the Whitecaps afterall. And TFC is only three points out of third, and six behind second place in the East.

There’s a lot left to play in 2011. The Eastern conference is congested with mediocrity at the moment. That means, of course, that Toronto FC could still prevail. In a pool of averageness, they don’t have to become Man U to make it to the top.

The problem now is going to be picking up their game and playing it better on the road. TFC have actually played some decent matches away from BMO this season. They just haven’t reaped results in the points column as yet. Skipping over the Seattle debacle, TFC haven’t been as awful on the road as they have been at BMO.

This could be the good news looking forward. The months ahead will be a lot of working on the road for these guys, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing. A playoff run would be nice, but just being in contention this season would be a success. The Reds still could find their footing to make a run at it.

The biggest variable is what Winter’s management team have planned for the transfer window that is about to open again. A commanding central defender and a lively striker could go a long way toward improving their game. Even though there are a lot of midfielder’s on the bench, a more seasoned, creative attacking mid could also pick this team up. There’s room on the roster and with the salary cap. Wish I could see their shopping list.

 

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