I’ve somehow let the heat, home renos, family and work get in the way of keeping this little endeavor going the way I have should over the summer. So to get things kicked off again I thought I would weigh in on a few of the more recent/current happenings going on around this little club of ours that I feel are definitely worth commenting upon.
In no particular order…
If the cost of getting rid of the little London whinger was scheduling this week’s friendly against Defoe’s new side Sunderland FC then I say that’s fine – me thinks we have upgraded that position pretty well since he left to go back home anyways. Other than writing about it here just don’t expect me to even look at or acknowledge that this is even going on. I have stated in this space many times previously how I feel about these meaningless cash grabs that I think do little to nothing to grow TFC’s brand or to grow the sport here. How long is it going to take for MLSE to finally realize that right under their noses this city of ours has become a much more sophisticated and discerning soccer market? I think the large number of fans disguised as empty seats on Wednesday will go a long way towards showing the bean counters that these friendlies don’t make sense anymore.
Caldwell Says Goodbye
Toronto FC has seen its share of mid-season ‘retirement’ announcements before. The Danny Dichio one in particular still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many supporters who think he was prematurely pushed out by the club. However I for one plan to take Tim Bezbatchenko at his word when both he and the departed himself say that no such thing took place when it came to the retirement from football of Steven Caldwell. Caldwell stated that his body was not responding well to his recovery from injury and that it was time to hang up his cleats. The question now is what TFC ends up doing with his precious international roster spot and with the significant amount of cap relief they get by getting roughly half of Caldwell’s $325,000 salary off the books. Zavaleta has been a relatively nice surprise of late showing some flashes of what might be – on the flip side he was on the field for four awful goals conceded to NYCFC a couple of weeks back. TFC looks every bit like a playoff team in a relatively weak Eastern Conference (much more on that below) but not strengthening the club – particularly at centre back before the window closes on trades or acquisitions in just over two weeks from now would be a grievous error. Too bad Darren O’Dea signed with the Indian Super League recently – he would have been an excellent re-acquisition in my opinion.
Without a shadow of a doubt Sebastian Giovinco WILL be MLS league MVP this season. The numbers simply don’t lie. He has had a hand in 75% of Toronto FC’s goals. He is either leading or in the top five in multiple offensive categories (goals, assists, shots attempted & shots on target). He is personally responsible for 43% of ALL of the shots taken in league play by TFC to date. He has been kept off the score sheet (no goals or assists) only five times all season. Ten times this campaign Giovinco has notched more than one goal and/or one assist in a single game. On current pace he could end up with 21 goals and 17 assists in regular season play – which by MLS historical standards are staggeringly huge numbers. My only fear is the obvious one – that of injury (that disappointing home loss to NYCFC which saw Seba kicked all over the park – with a successful outcome from that tactic– might prove a template for other clubs down the stretch). Hopefully Altidore’s early return from the Gold Cup along with what I hope is his recovery from the niggling injuries he has been recently carrying will see his goal scoring production increase and take some of the load off of Seba’s diminutive shoulders.
Just a little over halfway home in the 2015 campaign it is time to take a look at what it is all about, namely making the playoffs – the promised land over the river Jordan that to date we as TFC supporters have only ever been able to gaze upon at a distance – and like Moses – never ever been allowed to enter.
Barring a collapse that would be talked of and written about FOREVER as the biggest collapse in the history of the sport Toronto FC WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS this season. The only question is will they finish in the top 4 of the Eastern Conference or not – If they do TFC is guaranteed at least one playoff home game. The Playoff format for 2015 sees 6 clubs from the Conference make the post season with 1st and 2nd place finishers getting a bye. The 3rd and 4th place finishers get a single home knockout game against either the 5th or 6th place finisher.
Now you might say to yourself that I’m insane to say that the Reds at a lock for the playoffs. Here is why I think they are – the only issue is whether or not they will give us a home playoff game.
Of the sixteen league games remaining only five of them are against clubs that are ahead of Toronto FC currently in the standings (Columbus X 2, Seattle, NYRB, & SKC). Only two of those five clubs (NYRB & Seattle) have a better points per game mark that TFC currently does. Five of the remaining games TFC has left are against clubs currently sitting outside the playoff standings. A whopping 14 of the 16 games remaining are against clubs that are currently are earning fewer points per game that Toronto FC has so far this season.
Toronto FC has only one more trip to the west coast ALL season, and that is against Seattle. In fact the Reds have only six more road games left all season, and only the aforementioned Seattle game will be out of our time zone. Ten remaining games at home is far more than any Eastern Conference club has remaining.
The folks at Sports Club Stats http://www.sportsclubstats.com/USA/TorontoFC.html does an excellent job of breaking down the numbers if you want to parse them yourselves. Anything better than 42 points (15 more!) according to their estimations gets TFC into the 2015 post season (at least through the back door). Anything better than 56 points gives TFC more than a 50% chance of securing a first round bye. Anything approaching 53 points gives the Reds a better than even chance of finishing 3rd or 4th – guaranteeing that precious home playoff date. Right now TFC has earned 1.5 points per game so far in 2015. If that pace continues the Reds will be sitting pretty on 51 points. Anything better than that pace gives us a chance to see that promised land. Today this site has TFC sitting with a 95.51% probability of making the playoffs somewhere between 1st and 6th.
I for one like those odds.