Reserving Judgement on TFC
Saturday afternoon sees Toronto FC play its last pre-season fixture against DC United as the Carolina Challenge Cup comes to an end. It will be the ninth game TFC has played since training camp opened in Turkey about six weeks ago.
As it stands before action commences in Charleston on Saturday the Reds have a record so far of one win, two draws and five losses since training camp began. The club has been outscored to date eleven goals to seven. TFC has kept two clean sheets in eight attempts. Positively the victory came against European competition in Red Star Belgrade. Two of the five losses so far came worryingly from D2/D3 competition in the Orlando City Soccer Club and on Wednesday past against the Charleston Battery respectively.
Read from all that what you will.
I for one do not take huge stock from the results considering the fact that there have been fourteen players out, and only eight officially in to date. Only three 2011 draft picks in Demetruis Omphroy, Matt Gold and Joao Plata remain with TFC and one week away from First Kick they have not yet officially earned contracts. Assuming they will for a moment that leaves twenty players signed in camp (including academy graduate Nicholas Lindsay who is out for the 2011 season with an injury, so really nineteen). And if you are keeping score at home that is of course ten players short of a full thirty man MLS Roster. There are a number of Academy players in camp that might also get a promotion to the senior club as well… again no specifics to report as of yet.
Or you could choose the opposite tack and you could make a number of assumptions based on what you have or have not seen so far. One might say that the nine games played since early February could be a prelude to absolute disaster. My point is that there is no logical way to know as of yet what sort of club this is going to be based on what have and have not seen.
And we have yet to truly see anything close to what Aron Winter plans as a starting XI play any meaningful minutes together as a unit in game action. I am sure there has been ball drill after ball drill in training but nothing like a full starting team has been anywhere on the field where fans can see and perhaps assess what sort of club this is going to be this year. For me I am most interested on if Winter uses the last pre-season game on Saturday to put something on the field like perhaps what we will see next weekend in Vancouver. We will see Saturday afternoon.
I am not going to lie to you. I am worried.
I worry about once again how effective the defense will be in keeping Toronto in games. I worry about if the club has the talent up and down the roster to succeed at playing a technically complex style such as a 4-3-3. I worry if our best player is going to let his ongoing contract dispute become another distraction the club does not need. I worry about how a novice coaching staff will handle itself when the tough times come, as they always do. I worry about being roughly ten players short (AGAIN!) before the start of the season. I worry about where goals are going to come from. I worry about how engaged the fan base will be especially if the club struggles out of the gate again. I worry about how much of a home field advantage there truly will be if fan apathy and angst rises if results are not to their satisfaction. I worry when I hear that there are allegedly up to 3,000 tickets still unsold and available for the home opener in just two weeks time.
Yet every one of these worries at this stage is nothing but worry. We just don’t know yet if these worries are well founded or simple over-reaction.
Next week TFC will be back home for a few days before jetting off this coming Friday to Vancouver for the first competitive match of the season. I hope that the club will be a little more forthcoming in the days ahead with what their plans are, both immediate and long term ones, for this season.
I am worried. And I know that I am not the only one who is.
What do you think?
Your comments are always welcome and appreciated.
Great read. I understand your worries. Believe me with Winter in charge you have to be very patient (not that you haven’t been since the inception of TFC). He knows what system he wants to play. The players are professionals and only the strong will survive with what he expects out of them. For him it is more important to have the right players in place versus just a 30 man roster. We are a week away but alot can change in a week. Today is a prime example. The more logical route with having the right players in place is to look at the young or progress with the young. I’m sure this season Oscar will feature in some games. Sure will the new 5ft wonder Joao. Dicoy seems to keep things pretty solid. The one thing Winter is teaching the players is fundamentals but also keeps things very simple. At this afternoon’s session he broke it down for the players, instead of making a better pass make the first pass, it was fun to see him demo it.
I’m worried too, mostly in respect to the defense where we do not have enough depth. I think we have experimented too much in preseason and don’t have a solid formation. I predict we will have a slow start to the season but hope I’m proven wrong.