Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Upon First Glance – Toronto FC at Chicago Fire

    Some assorted thoughts on the match.

    This team is just so hard to predict.

    When they play their best, they can take the pitch with any team in the league, where they don’t well, night’s like this occur.

    In evidence were Logan Emory’s shortcomings, not condemning him to the scrap he or anything so drastic, but he needs an instructor beside him. He is another in the long line of centre-backs made to be first choice, when they should really be depth – especially given he is so young and inexperienced – thrown to the wolves in many ways.

    Doneil Henry fits in that category too – tons of potential, needs the minutes and the chance to make mistakes and cut his teeth, but an experienced head to carry the load would help them both. Hopefully Darren O’Dea is that man.

    Can’t blame the poor clearance from Henry on Emory, or his miss-touch, but that moment of panic before he sprinted to get back - the little moment of “oh crap what do I do”.  If he had just closed down Marco Pappa a fraction earlier, to prevent the feint that drew Richard Eckersley off the post to make space for the finish, that chance is eradicated.

    This one had the feel of the both Houston matches – the first where the relentless pressure was going to overturn an early lead and the second where TFC could not create anything, nor hold possession for more than a few passes.

    In the preview, note was made of how important it was to close down the ball-carrier, stop Chicago from ping-ponging the ball around neatly disrupt the flow, TFC did none of that.

    Not sure that the Henry for Jeremy Hall substitution really had to be made. I understand wanting to get fresh legs out there and to give Hall a little run out, but it sure blew up in Paul Mariner’s face.

    Ref seemed out of it for most of the match - slow to react - almost as though he wasn’t really fully paying attention.

    Both of the Emory cards were rather weak. The first, ok, he gave a shove, but there wasn’t that much there, and the second, it appeared as though Kennedy pulled the card before realizing he would be sending him off, that being said, no need to make that challenge in that part of the pitch.

    The undisputed highlight of the night, other than Johnson’s finish, was Terry Dunfield’s wondrous tackle on Logan Pause at the top of the box.
    Milos Kocic takes a knee from Henry & gets stepped on by Chris Rolfe – he is one tough dude. What is it with Henry annihilating his teammates, first it was Torsten Frings’ shoulder, now it’s Milos’ face.

    Eric Hassli’s touch and ability to link up was evident, but so was his lack of match fitness – he wasn’t getting a ton of minutes in Vancouver and he’s been off the pitch for a few weeks with injury.

    Johnson’s ability to finish increases as the time he has to think about it decreases – Ryan, just do; don’t think. An awful turnover from Chicago - a wonderful goal, but a gift.

    His little touch to set-up Luis Silva was magic, really wish that one had gone in – nice little touch back to Luis, good cut to make space, just needed to put that one anywhere but straight at the keeper. It goes without saying that going up two-nil before the half would have likely changed the course of the match.

    But perhaps that’s not true; as mentioned, this had the feel of the first Houston match, where the opposition’s pressure and Toronto’s inability to relieve it, even for a moment, made conceding an eventuality.

    One of the few notes left out of the preview – there’s always a tidbit or two that is passed over - was that extra attention must be paid to Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry on set-pieces.

    The foul call that led to the free kick was terrible. Not sure how you give that call for Chicago. Hall had body position on Patrick Nyarko who tried to force his way to the ball, knocking them both off their feet and forcing Hall off the pitch.

    Aaron Maund marking Berry on the set-piece was a bad matchup. He lets him get goal-side, had to blame a player who has seen so few minutes from not reacting well to a mark with a nose for goal from dead-balls.

    All told, it was a wholly underwhelming performance by the club on the night. An odd thought, counterintuitive though it may be, is that this team seems to play better on little rest than when they have time off.

    The terrible start in Kansas City after the international break; the egg laid against Houston at home, and this match in Chicago were all after at least a week of rest - an ominous sign for Wednesday at home to Portland.

    Whereas the big win in Montreal and the last-minute Dunfield strike against Vancouver came in the midst of long runs – fourth and eighth in a run of ten matches in thirty-two days.

    Meant to get this posted sooner - busy week, plus the Olympics were on - but the postponement of the Columbus game means it is still relevant, and possibly a helpful refresher.

    TFC begins another long run of matches – six games in seventeen days – that will see trips to Columbus, Houston, and Kansas City, as well as the home tie against Santos Laguna.

    A crucial stretch of the season, TFC is all but mathematically out of the playoffs; most are ready to concede that fact – some stated as much after the horrible start. It’s for pride, contracts, and the Champions League from now on.

    Portland game should be interesting, lots of international absences – Dunfield, Henry, Johnson, and O’Dea, thus far (Late Note – Dicoy Williams has been called as well). Emory will still be suspended, so Adrian Cann or Dicoy Williams could return to the back-line.

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