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TFC 2011 | Week#20

Spiking Timber

Plata

Supersized Performance from Plat-teenie.

Little Big Man

At kickoff on Wednesday’s CCL first-leg, the shortest player on the field for Toronto FC was Matt Stinson. He was taller than every player starting for Real Esteli, except their keeper. Danny Koevermans (6’3″) and Andy Iro (6’5″) looked like giants. Much of the Reds offence, not surprisingly, consisted of lofting crosses into the area. There, the Reds were owning RE’s back line that seemed to stand no taller than 5’5″.

It’s no wonder Joao Plata entered the second half with so much confidence. This was the first time since joining TFC that he was facing down opposition of similar stature. His two goals finally gave the Reds the advantage their dominating play justified. If anything, the score should have been more lop-sided. Ignoring the tragic gaffe by TFC keeper Milos Kocic, that conceded an undeserved goal to Real Esteli, the game was mostly inspiring.

TFC held possession, moved the ball well, and generated a multitude of scoring chances. Even with a starting roster featuring youngsters Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan and Matt Stinson, Toronto FC delivered a solid performance. In the second half, Julian de Guzman entered the game and we got to see how he and Torsten Frings might work together. There was no magic to speak of, but it was a promising glimpse of the future midfield.

Real Esteli was playing for the tie and risking little. The Reds took the game to them, though, and certainly deserved to win. The frustrating part of the evening was that TFC actually scored so few goals. It should have been a 4-0 night.

Carry Forward

The Reds have had so few performances this season that would offer them any inspiration moving forward. The question now is whether TFC can bring some of that character and confidence into Saturday’s MLS contest in Portland.

Arguably, Toronto FC have played better on the road this season. Though end results don’t justify that statement, they have seemed both more relaxed and sharper in many of their away games. The Timbers, conversely, have played quite well at home thus far. Neither team is lining up a playoff spot at this point, and a mere three points separate them overall, so this weekend’s match could be a close one against an opponent we should expect to compete against.

With the roster still in flux, and new players arriving now, it may be too much to expect the Reds to snare a road win against the Timbers. Wednesday’s performance, however, could spark further enthusiasm and raise morale. If TFC can take three MLS points and close out the CCL qualifier Tuesday in Nicaragua, they may return home next week riding a high.

In a doldrum season, where motivation and inspiration have been in short supply, that surge of confidence and purpose could make an enormous difference. For all of us, fans and players alike, the Reds need to close out 2011 on a more positive note.

 

Forecast:

Portland Timbers  2 – 2  Toronto FC

Real Esteli  0 – 1  Toronto FC

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