TFC Gets The Week Off
Early Tuesday morning I reached out to a senior TFC official looking to see if there was any injury status update on key defender Richard Eckersley, who of course missed last week’s game versus New York and remains doubtful for the crucial game in Dallas two weeks from now.
There is no news on Eckersley or for that matter any other TFC player on the injury list that I can report, but one very interesting little tidbit came out from the club when I asked the question. Aron Winter has supposedly given his club the “…entire week off…” There will be no practices, no training sessions, no looking at game film or no sessions in the gym supervised by club personnel this week. Only injured players are going in to work on their respective aches, pains, bruises and knocks.
I get the need for a rest. Forty three games since mid March, not including two rain outs, is a huge volume of work for any professional soccer club. And getting away from the grind for a few days is probably going to do many of those carrying knocks, like Stefan Frei, Joao Plata, the aforementioned Richard Eckersley and Danny Koevermans for example, wonders. According to his Twitter feed Eric Avila has been spending much of his recent off-tme off mastering the intricacies of EA Sports FIFA-12. Perhaps some of the players could be out of town with family or friends getting some R&R, or maybe they are heading over to Eric’s place to get their FIFA-12 on.
In any case these players are all professionals who of course know their own bodies the way a concert violinist probably knows their violin, so I am not too worried that they will be pigging out on KFC Double Down sandwiches and drinking quarts of whiskey or anything when the coaching staff is not looking over their shoulder. Rest like this is a luxury few clubs at this stage of the season get in Major League Soccer. And the rest of TFC’s tired legs might turn out be the difference when they play Dallas in two weeks. The Reds might just run rings around a tired Dallas club when the time comes who can’t afford to rest anyone with each league game being critical for their playoff chances.
Rest is precious. I get it.
And far from me to judge but would this bye week also be just about the absolute perfect time to get some serious practice time in?
In the Town Hall meeting I attended last week at BMO Field both Aron Winter and Bob de Klerk lamented that one of the real challenges they found hard getting used to over here was that travel time and schedule commitments cut into the amount of practice time they would expect to usually have with their players if say TFC was in the Eredivisie instead of being in MLS. And yet this gift of a free week to work on things like defensive coverage, set pieces (both offensive and defensive) and implementation of a game plan for the Dallas game, a match that in the months ahead we all will probably look back upon as the one single solitary game that defines the entire 2011 season, is not being used. And with the turnover in players this season it might still be fair to say that there is still a significant amount of unfamiliarity that exists between a lot of these players considering so few of them have been here with Toronto FC since the start of training camp in Turkey.
Again I am not judging the merits of this choice. Aron Winter and Bob de Klerk are in charge. They know more about the players and more about what is needed at this point than I or anyone else does. They know what their players need and they are paid to make these choices. But I have to confess I am a bit surprised that the last chance for this team to have a significant amount of time to practice and work on things that might make a difference in the performance of the club in these last three matches, particularly the crucial Champions League match in Dallas in two weeks, is not being used.
Not knocking the choice here… just a little bit surprised by it.
What do you think? Your comments are always welcome and of course appreciated.