TFC 2010 | Week#8

Toronto FC Eliminates Impact

Marc Dos Santos

"I think it wasn't the best team that won ... "

Not Pointing Fingers…

I guess Marc Dos Santos, coach of the Montreal Impact (photo above), is obliged to frame his team’s crappy performance overall in the 2010 Voyageur Cup in a way that still makes his club sound like the best team. The unfortunate truth is that the Impact never really put that class on the pitch over the first three matches of this year’s Nutrilite Canadian Championships. The first two games featured player ejections, and their best outcome was an away from home tie in Vancouver last week. Last night, bearing in mind the three absent players from those red cards, the Impact managed to keep 11 men on the field for the entire 90 minutes. Were they outclassed by Toronto FC? The simple answer is yes and no, but the outcome makes the discussion irrelevant. Toronto FC defeated the Impact 1-0, and the Impact are eliminated from the competition before they even play their final game against Vancouver.

TFC Still Haven’t Won

It’s possible the Vancouver Whitecaps could defeat Toronto FC twice over the next few weeks and, if so, they would emerge as victors for 2010. I wouldn’t wager on that outcome, but then nobody gave TFC much hope of taking the Cup last year when they had to beat the Impact by a minimum of 4 goals in the final game. Nevertheless, Toronto FC have done what was necessary to take a commanding lead from their first two matches of the competition. The team’s form continues to improve and there are signs that the bench has enough depth to get them through this month’s crush of games.

Thoughts On The Match

It was not a scintillating spectacle of exceptional finesse and talent last night. Perhaps that’s what Dos Santos meant when he claimed the best team hadn’t won. On the other hand, it was a decent performance from a Toronto FC team that seemed to be playing with a tactical plan. Conservative defensively, TFC held strong and worked hard. There were some lapses, the Impact generated one or two good chances, and looked especially threatening toward the very end of the match when the Reds began hang back and let the Impact press for an equalizer. Outside of that, however, Toronto FC performed solidly. Never overly aggressive in attack, it was clear they would have been content taking a tie on the road and saving some gas in the tank for the weekend match against the LA Galaxy. The Reds dominated possession for most of the match, frequently relying on intricate passing to outmaneuver the Impact even in the tightest spaces. Sometimes, they even seemed to mesmerize themselves with all that tic tac tabernac toe tapping.

Dwayne De Rosario’s goal was a relief, as Toronto FC had been held to mostly distant shots on goal and hadn’t really tested the Impact’s keeper Matt Jordon or convincingly beaten their back line. DeRo’s contribution was vital, of course, but the play was made by a sweet delivery from Nick LaBrocca over the top. Chad Barrett took that ball, deftly moving it outside-inside-outside over a few steps, before having a good hard shot on the goal. The rebound came straight to TFC’s captain, and he made no mistake in putting it into the Montreal goal.

Fresh and Not So Fresh

It was good to see Nick Garcia has recovered enough from his knockout in the first Impact game to make a start. Sadly, he was still looking sluggish and clumsy out there. Another clearing mistake from Garcia almost dished the ball up to the Impact on Toronto’s six yard box. Fortunately, the Reds escaped without consequence. Martin Saric didn’t get a card last night, and didn’t seem to commit any cheap fouls. Maxim Usanov, however, took a terrible foul and yellow after getting beaten on a Montreal counter-attack. I thought Julian de Guzman had a good game, working well on defense and distributing the ball well going the other direction. Sam Cronin also performed reasonably well, even as Preki moved him around toward right back to accommodate second half substitutions. The footnote to that compliment is that Cronin also took one of the worst throw-ins of all time, seeming to drop the ball behind his head and having it spill into play off his back.

Chad Barrett’s contribution to the goal was a flash of real class and confidence and certainly suggests he is regaining some of the mental focus he needs to score. The breakout performance of the night, though, was Gabe Gala. The youngster started and played wide on both flanks. He showed real ability on the ball and making runs, and there were some moments of connection between Gala, de Guzman and De Rosario that were very promising for their chemistry. It’s nice to see Gala rise to the occasion, and if he keeps playing that well when called upon we can certainly expect to see him more often.

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