TFC pushing past previous poor performances

on August 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

After being bombarded 24 hours a day for 16 days with Olympic coverage, there is inevitably a huge void to fill and a… well, “what do we do now” question that always lingers when it is over. Thankfully, for us in the GTA we are in the midst of one of the most exciting summers in history with the Blue Jays, TorontoFC and even the Toronto Argonauts are challenging for first place in their respective divisions. Mind you, The Argos are also only two points out of last place, but let’s not dwell on that for now.

Out of all the successes, the one that I am enjoying the most is that of TFC. There are signs that point this team to a far better fate than we have been used to seeing. TFC’s past years (as with other Toronto teams it seems) goes through a collapse at about three quarters of the way through the season. After last week’s disappointing 1-1 tie against 10-man Houston, who just happens to be in last place, that uneasy feeling of here we go again, cropped up. Admit it; you also had the sense of impending doom for their upcoming game against 4th place Philadelphia. It should have been the moment when the chink in the armour became magnified. The moment when Toronto FC’s flaws would be exposed for all to take advantage of and ultimately, they would not recover in time to salvage their season.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, they had a statement game and walked out of Talon Energy Stadium with a full 3 points in a convincing 3-1 victory. The offence, as always, was led by Sebastian Giovinco who has overcome whatever funk he was in during June and July. His touch on the ball whether deking an opponent or to cradle a 50 yard pass is phenomenal. His opening goal displayed both a soft, controlled flick from a long distance pass, followed by a low powerful shot that went off both posts before heading into the back of the net. His partner Jose Altidore, finally healthy, uses his power to plough through the defence as he did on his goal or to hold the ball until help arrives. They are not scoring at the rate as they did last year, but they don’t need to as they have the best goal differential in the East which also attests to how wonderful their defence is playing.

If you had mentioned that 25 games in TFC would have the lowest goals against in the East (26) I would say you were crazy. If you told me they would do it despite lengthy injuries to goalie Clint Irwin, Michael Bradley and Will Johnson, I would say you were certifiably crazy. But that is what has transpired. Alex Bono has stepped in nicely as the backup keeper and nearly made the save of year on Philadelphia’s lone goal. He has come up big since he has been called up from TFC II and is one of the reasons why TFC is unbeaten in their last six games. The defence certainly has helped in not only minimizing chances on Bono but also clearing the ball to avoid sustained pressure. Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow have found the knack of running the wing to help on offence yet always manage to get back in time and rarely if ever get caught out of position. There have been a number of central defenders and they have all, with the help of Bradley from midfield, been strong in clearing out any loose balls or crosses and have the presence of mind to move the ball up intelligently. The only knock on the defence and midfield is that there seems to be a mental and physical letdown just after they score a goal that has allowed the opposition to get back into the game far too often.

Speaking of the midfield, Coach Greg Vanney has implemented a diamond formation for them that really accentuates all the positives that TFC have. Bradley at the low point to help defend and move the ball out, Jonathan Osorio at the top point to help with the offence and Marky Delgado and Will Johnson to help disrupt the oppositions attack and gain control of the ball. Every time I see this formation at the beginning of the game I start to get excited because it just feels like something good is going to happen as it did once again in Philly.

So with 9 games left including visiting Kaka in Orlando City on Wednesday night, I do not expect the letdown we are used to seeing. With the best goal differential in the east (+11) and the fewest goals allowed (26) and with 6 games to be played at home, not only should TFC easily make the playoffs this year, but they have an excellent chance at finishing top 2 and getting a bye in the first round. That means more excitement in these parts and a quicker recovery from the Olympic void.

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