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TFC 2013

FC Dull-ass

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Can Competence Become Results?

Riding a three game winning streak into town, FC Dallas’ style looks effective lately. Their attacking options are deep enough that Eric Hassli has been relegated to a supporting role. Dallas’ form on the road the past few seasons has been conservative – playing compact, risking little and looking for blood on quick counter attacks. With their roster healthy, this team may show up with some aggressive swagger today. Will FC Dull-ass actually impress?

For Ryan Nelsen’s TFC, the battle against strong teams in good form continues. While the Reds have looked more defensively coherent than expected at this point, they have managed just four points in four games.  As in seasons past, collecting real results remains a dubious pursuit.

With the stoppage time equalizer given up last week to the Galaxy, the groans around me at BMO Field echoed the blunders of seasons past. All previous iterations of TFC played similar patterns. Surprising tenacity and general effectiveness beyond reputation can give way suddenly. Far too many times, it has ended in tragedies of bad luck and morale-busting incompetence.

While Nelsen’s Reds genuinely seem better organized than any previous TFC, closing out real results still seems like a long shot. Toughing out matches against top opponents certainly shows character, but we should all keep our expectations in check until the Reds can finish matches consistently. Coughing up late losses and draws will not pull Toronto out of the MLS basement.

Keeping it Real

I remain a guarded optimist toward Ryan Nelsen’s approach. Teams are now aware that they need to respect Robert Earnshaw. With more defenders preoccupied by him, Toronto will need to create other opportunities going forward.

As Terry Dunfield is likely out with an injury today, the tactics and/or roster will likely shift. If it weren’t a hungry and winning FC Dallas side, we might have seen more starting roles for the young midfield and attacking talent on the Reds’ bench. Instead, I’m guessing we’ll still see two midfielders staying home in front of the back line.

Maybe it’ll be Hall and Russell today. That would pull Ashtone Morgan back into the starting line up too.

Prediction

I’m thinking the match today will start as a dull test of defensive structures. Neither coach will want to blow this one early. Unless some early goals open up the game, it may play out like Dallas’ match in New England last week. Hopefully, this week it will end up with Dallas on the losing end of a late goal clinching a tight contest. At this point in the season, against a hot streaking opponent, I think TFC would be content with another draw at BMO.

Toronto FC  1  –  1  FC Dallas

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