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Opening Capitulation from Toronto

Let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come.  Should we say at least that things can’t get much worse? 

Toronto FC traveled to Columbus to take on the Crew in their first match of the season.  We shouldn’t be surprised: Toronto has never ever beaten Columbus.  Compound that with Toronto’s inability to play consistently well away from home and the outcome should not have been in any doubt.  A 2-0 defeat was the end result with goals from a stand in centre-back Iro and a controversial goal from Schelotto.

Some are likely going to point to Schelotto’s goal and say Toronto may have gotten a goal and scraped a draw.  O’Rourke probably should have been sent off for his studs up challenge on Frei but look at the build up to that incident.  The Toronto defenders gave acres of space to the Crew.  You can be justifiably angry at the drunk for crashing his car but what if you are the one who gave him his keys?  Ultimately this goal had to come if only because Garcia, Attakora, Harden and Brennan were woeful.  Garcia almost gifted a goal to Schelotto as early as the first half.  Attakora was consistently left in the wake of Robby Rogers and was often poorly positioned.  Based on the poor showing by the stand-in right back you have to question the wisdom of Preki’s decision to deal Wynne for midfielder Nick LaBrocca.  More concerning is Attakora’s two year reign as Canadian under 21 player of the year.

Prior to the season new coach Preki attempted to refresh the squad.  Strange to think that a team only a few years old needed a renovation.  The end of last season saw a few changes with Garcia and de Guzman being brought in.  de Guzman was at last their Designated Player, the one player per team paid outside of the salary cap.  Prior to last night we saw Harden come in at the back as well as Martin Saric and Nick LaBrocca in midfield.  Gone are Carl Robinson and Amado Guevara.

The first game of the 2009 season saw Toronto FC run out with the following starting 11

24 Stefan Frei (G)
11 Jim Brennan (D)
10 Rohan Ricketts (D)
5 Kevin Harmse (D)
2 Sam Cronin (D)
14 Dwayne De Rosario (M)
15 Adrian Serioux (M)
19 Chad Barrett (M)
16 Marvell Wynne (M)
33 Carl Robinson (ST)
20 Amado Guevara (ST)

Yesterday saw the below starting eleven take the field. 

24 Stefan Frei (G)
11 Jim Brennan (D)
4 Nick Garcia (D)
27 Gabe Gala (D)
3 Nana Attakora-Gyan (D)
20 Robert Tyrel Harden (D)
14 Dwayne De Rosario (M)
6 Julián De Guzman (M)
2 Sam Cronin (M)
17 O’Brian White (F)
 25 Martin Saric (F)

Four players returned a year later to start the first game of the 2010 season.  The most concerning fact is only Brennan returns in defence.  Ah Jimmy Brennan, the fans hero and the first player ever signed by the club.  It’s time for a replacement. 

I’m so very sorry to have to say but Toronto needs a reliable left sided defender.  Brennan has begun to slow noticeably and was at fault for the opening goal against the Crew.  Being the captain and standing in the middle of the penalty area, it is his responsibility to ensure everyone’s marking duties were upheld.  Brennan could be seen straining in vain to intercept Schelotto’s cross just ahead of Iro’s lovely header.  Oh dear.

The keys to Toronto’s success this year lie in Preki’s hand.  It will be critical that he can settle on a first choice eleven that is defensively sound but can also score goals.  Alas, this has been a difficult feat for previous managers.  As well Toronto will need an in-form forward to grab the goals.  White showed some promising signs but momentum will be needed to make any progress towards this year’s only goal: qualifying for the playoffs.  Preki and his batch of new boys will be scheming and sweating to make it happen and give the TFC faithful something to finally cheer about.

  1. March 30, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    It is pretty crazy how much the roster changed from last year. I still think there was a lot of talent on last year’s team, but no one to properly harness it. Let’s face it – Cummins was not the right man for the job. Maybe if John Carver had been able to shake off the media pressure he could have done more with that team.

    I may not have noticed Attakora getting beaten on defense, because it looked to me like he made a lot of good tackles to break up the Columbus attack. To me he was the best guy for TFC in that match. I’ll have to watch more closely in the next one.

    I think Preki or Mo must have seen something in Nick LaBrocca to trade Wynne for him. I can’t imagine that trade was just because Wynne didn’t fit into Preki’s system – he’s too big an asset to throw away for nothing, so hopefully we’ll see something we like in LaBrocca soon!

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