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.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Upon First Glance – Toronto FC v Sporting KC

Some assorted thoughts on the match:

Game in a Simple Sentence

    Toronto FC undone by defense-first tactics and stung with a late strike from Sporting KC.

Projected Lineup Accuracy

    Correct prediction of players on the pitch – 9 of 11; in proper position – 6.5/9.

So, what went wrong?

    It was difficult to foresee Peter Vermes fielding three defensive-minded midfielders. Should probably have seen it as a possibility he did just that in the US Open Cup Final and on the road against DC earlier in the month with Paulo Nagamura in fine form since finding a space on the pitch.

    KC can be very defense first on the road, but did not predict they would offer such respect to Toronto.

    That being said, there was a slight alteration – hence the 0.5 – instead of playing with two holders at the base of the midfield, Julio Cesar primarily held that spot alone with Roger Espinoza and Nagamura cycling in and out of the role, pushing up when possible and dropping back when necessary.

    Graham Zusi was forced out to the right flank with Kei Kamara stationed primarily on the left, they switched quite often. Kamara normally plays on the right side of the SKC attack, but may have switched to expose Doneil Henry on Toronto’s right.

    Neven Markovic apparently picked up a knock at some point this week, while Seth Sinovic recovered from his. It is a constant battle between getting the preview out in a timely manner and waiting for the most recent injury reports to be posted.

    More often than not frustration sets in and patience wears thin.

Praise of an opponent

    Espinoza is one hell of a footballing beast, closing down the opposition and picking the right passes. His tireless work rate would have been a joy to watch, did he not play for the wrong team. He cannot be long for this league, especially in light of the performance he put in at the Olympics.


    Possibly the most entertaining aspect of what was essentially a dire match was the ongoing battle between the two big Frenchman – Eric Hassli and Aurelien Collin.

    Collin from the suburbs of Paris and Hassli from a small town on the border of German wrestled with each other for the entire ninety as though the gold medal in the heavyweight category had not been awarded a few weeks prior.


    The long awaited debut of centre-back solution number forty-eight, Darren O’Dea finally took place. He looked calm and assured – the simple fact that KC’s long throws, corners and indirect – stress: free kicks not directly on target - caused limited trouble was indicative enough of his ability to marshal and the confidence he added to the squad.

    There was one nervy moment, when his sliced clearance just cleared the bar. Oh dear, indeed.

    Richard Eckersley looked supremely comfortable and much calmer beside him than he has in any other match.

    Look for more on O’Dea in a later post.

    There was one point, where Collin was causing trouble from Matt Besler’s throws and Hassli was either summoned or spotted the danger himself and came back to sort him out.

International Hangover

    Terry Dunfield was not himself on the day; he was slow to react and taking an extra – often poor – touch. He looked like he’d twice been on a plane and played seventy-seven minutes after a spell in Florida.


    Hate to have to always be critical of the referee, but the stop-start nature, calling every single little foul, yet somehow being inconsistent all the same, was unbearable, bordering on unwatchable.

    Still not sure how Collin did not see a red card early in the match for hauling down Hassli after being turned or what flashing a red towards Quincy Amarikwa and then quickly retracting it was all about.

    The Home fans were apathetic today, it was silent for large chunks of the match – perhaps the trips to the food building should be reserved for post-match. Though, that rule should apply to the players as well, as they appeared to have been snacking on some bacon laced goodies pre-match.

    Grossest thing at the food court – Chocolate Éclair Hotdogs – there are some things should not be combined.


    The injury to Henry which forced Ashtone Morgan to switch to right-back when Logan Emory came on was troublesome. Morgan was uncomfortable on his wrong wing and gave up that cheap foul on Nagamura that led to the goal.

    Emory was poor getting forward; he is definitely a centre-back not a full-back. A more adventurous manager may have tried switching to a back three, especially given the paucity of substitutes  - four, yes, four of the seven possible subs were centre-backs, if one includes Aaron Maund - on hand at the time.

    Normally, the idea of having three defenders against three attackers is madness, but Bunbury was on an island up top with Kamara stretching wide left and tracking back. Zusi tended to move in-field and hover higher rather than get dirty in the corners of the attacking right.

    Something along the lines of Eckersley on the defensive right of the three to shutdown Kamara and Emory on the left to deal with anything on that side, leaving O’Dea to handle Bunbury through the middle.

    Johnson was already doing a strong job of keeping Chance Myers pinned back, so it would have freed up Morgan to be more attack-minded and possibly overwhelmed Myers, the more susceptible of their full-backs.

    Plus of the KC centre-backs Collin is the more apt to behave rashly, so having Hassli, Johnson, and Morgan isolated on he and Myers could have led to something positive.

    It would have been risky, but one must take risks to win a match. The points were there to be won in the second half.

The Goal

    Not much one can do about that other than not give up those types of chances.

    Unlucky to have Kamara’s strike deflect off of Wiedeman and nestle beyond the reach of Kocic. The ball appeared to have a measure of curl around the side of wall, which prompted Milos to inch towards his right. The touch off the wall forced the ball the opposite way, catching Kocic off guard.

    He did well to recover and get down to the ball, but could not react quick enough to read the bounce of the shot, which skipped over him, almost hopping up as it struck the ground. One can only assume the spin on the ball was affected by the touch off the defender and kicked up as it hit the turf – a slight knuckleball, tough to read.

    Had the feeling that one was likely to come and conceding so late leaves very little time to change the mindset and look for an equalizer.

    Playing the contain game, of focusing on limiting the opposition and hoping to find one on the counter or from a set-piece, is a dangerous one. Sure, it keeps the club in the match, but it can be difficult to switch on when required.

    Criticism aside, Toronto was able to limit one of the more dangerous clubs in the league mainly to shots from distance and stayed in the game for eighty-odd minutes of play. Were the football gods not so firmly rooted against the Reds, it could have been a very different match.

    What if Torsten Frings had scored the Olimpico? What if Hassli’s back-post header over Collin from a left-sided Johnson cross had snuck in rather than go wide? What if Wiedeman’s deflection had pushed Kamara’s shot wide? Or the bouncing ball been less-inclined to find the back of the net?

Man of the Match

    Milos Kocic should probably be awarded this every match; he continues in the fine tradition of Stefan Frei – the Toronto keeper is constantly required to make a few saves to at least grant the club a chance at the result.

    Milos aside, Ryan Johnson should be singled out from praise. His commitment and versatility to putting in a defensive shift on the left-side was admirable and offering an attacking contribution should be commended.

    Conversely, Andrew Wiedeman looked like a player not used to playing a full ninety minutes.

Amarikwa’s Antics

    This fellow is animated, nearly getting sent off – may have picked up a yellow as sources differ – for dissent, vividly contesting that the ball had crossed the line on Toronto’s final chance – it was no where near it.

    He was every bit as animated on the pitch as Paul Mariner is on the touch-line. Perhaps that sort of energy is contagious.

A Spot of Redemption

    Scouring the post-match literature, only to stumble upon this gem was soothing.

    The eighth paragraph down and a karmic lack of spacing.

    “The final chance of the first half came again from a burst of speed from Bunbury, whoreceived the ball off of a flick from Kamara, but Kocic prevailed again with his fifth save of the half to send both teams into halftime without a goal.”

    To be fair, it happens throughout the report, but that one was gold.

Jersey Spotting

    Should give a hat-tip to The Yorkies, from whom this bit was mercilessly pilfered (imitation & flattery & whatnot), but it’s a big stadium, so…

    Lots of national team kits today: Greece, Poland, Wales & Ireland; and more than a few English clubs, given the spirit of the day: Manchester United, City, Chelsea, Newcastle, Blackburn, and a West Brom kit; a couple of Celtic ones – inspired by O’Dea no doubt; and the old standards: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus.

    Spotted something that resembled an Atletico Madrid kit, but had too many sponsor patches on it, so must have been South American; oh and a Boca Juniors one as well.

What did you think of the match? Disappointed? Frustrated? Agree with the assertions put forward here? Does the idea of a hotdog wrapped in a chocolate éclair equally disgust you? Did anyone try it?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below; curious as to whether this new more structured format is preferred aesthetically to the simple unguided observations.

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