TFC -V- Dallas : Redemption
Wow! what more can you say! TFC go down by two goals then fight back to gain a tie they barely deserved. If you were not sure before, this recovery tells you you are not watching TFC 2012!! TFC 2012 (or most other vintages) would have capitulated, heads would have gone down, and with half an hour to play after the second goal they would likely have gone on to lose 3 or 4-0 or worse. But no, this is TFC 2013 and the team finally has some fight about it …
That is not to say that this was a pleasant performance to watch. It was not (for about 84 minutes). The defence and midfield were both rejigged with Califf and Dunfield out and overall we were fairly flat for most of the game.
Starting debuts were handed to Gale Agbossoumonde and Jonathan Osorio in place of the injured players, but otherwise the team was the same that battled hard last week against LA. So why so flat? Dare I say it … but in my opinion we missed Terry Dunfield!!
TD polarises a lot of the support. Everyone loves his work-rate and heart, but then it splits into those who appreciate the nuances of what he does on the park and those who want to hate on him for some reason. I place myself firmly in the first camp as he reminds me of a player called Russell Duncan who played for many years for my hometown team Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Russell was the lightning rod for a lot of negative comments in his time with Inverness (just like Terry is at TFC) but in his 320 appearances for the club, it was shown numerous times that when he wasn’t there to quietly go about his defensive midfield role, clean up all the crap, and generally do the dirty work that receives no praise, the team did not do as well. Like Terry, Russell was not a superstar, his passes didnt always find a team-mate, and he was never going to be seen as a superstar, but also like Terry, you didnt appreciate him until he was not in the lineup !!
Anyhow, back to the game. This was definitely a test for TFC and after letting MLS champs LA Galaxy back into a game that looked to be in the bag last week, this week the task was to try and keep current leaders of the western division, Dallas, out from the start. MLSSoccer.com describes the performance of Dallas in this game as “rampant” and that of TFC “disjointed, listless and frustrated in attack” and those four adjectives are a pretty accurate description of the game on Saturday.
Dallas grabbed goals on either side of half-time. Andrew Jacobson got the first. He had hit the bar a few minutes earlier (although Bendik did look to have it covered), but this time took advantage of a Kenny Cooper head flick at a corner to blast past Bendik.
Blas Perez grabbed the second on the hour mark after getting the better of Darel Russell, and at 0-2 down, and still underperforming despite the introduction of Silva at half-time for Osorio, TFC looked dead and buried.
But this is where the TFC story gets better. Despite the low level performance, and the seeming lethargy, it was clear the heads had not gone down and that we would keep trying. Richard Eckersley needs a bit of praise at this point as he seemed to be everywhere, charging down the left at one point, then mopping up loose balls in midfield a few seconds later, and getting into the box after that. He was definitely not for laying down and taking this result. Ephraim was another who was doing his part. He was turning his markers inside out at every opportunity in an effort to create something
The glimmer of hope for TFC came in the 84th minute. An ill timed clearance was missed by keeper Fernandez and substitute Justin Braun’s face/shoulder was there to guide it into the net. Not sure he knew much about it at the time, and it will never win any goal of the week awards, but it gave the TFC faithful some hope. Hope turned to incredulity then delight just a few minutes later as Darel Russell redeemed himself for some earlier errors and blasted a shot from outside the box. It beat the keeper and nestled nicely in the top corner … holy **** 2-2 !!!
Referee Ismail Elfath played another minute or so after this and TFC, with their tails up could have gone on to win, but in the end, he blew the whistle and 2-2 it was. A TFC winner would have tasted very sweet, but would have been totally undeserved as Dallas were the better team over 84 of the 90 minutes.
So three home games in, and undefeated in Toronto with 5 points from a possible 9 against sides who are at, or expected to be at the business end of the table come the end of the season.
As a work-in-progress, I will take this progress over previous seasons. We are headed in the right direction, and we will get there, it just may not be this year … although it is looking like TFC will be tough to beat this year if we can get some consistency, and that is a solid foundation to build on.
Next week it is away to Philly to play the Union, a team sitting just above TFC in the standings … perhaps a good chance to see if TFC can turnaround our horrible road record, which we must do if we are to progress further.
Some Stats from Saturdays game
- Starting Debuts:
- Gale Agbossoumonde
- Jonathan Osorio
- Debut (sub)
- Justin Braun
- Justin Braun – scores on debut
- Darel Russell – scores first MLS goal
- Ashtone Morgan now on 48 MLS appearances, 2 more to reach 50, now 9th in overall appearances for TFC with 69 in all competitions (may not sound like a lot but he is only 22!)
- Ismail Elfath. Has reffed TFC twice and we have not lost. First game was July 18th last year Vs Colorado where TFC won 2-1. He booked only 1 player (Colorado) but made up for it this time with 7 bookings and a very poor performance.
- With the exception of the opening game at Rogers Centre which skews the average a bit, TFC must be worried by the apparent lack of crowds in the first two games at BMO despite incentives offered at renewal time and some innovative pre-game promos such as opening up the beer garden or roasting a pig. Seems the pig here in many people’s eyes is still the team itself even though the most fervent of supporters can definitely see a big improvement from last year.
- Game 1 (against LA) was 18355 which narrowly beats out 2010 for the previous lowest opener at BMO (18394)
- This past weekend it was 16111 which is more than 2000 down from last year’s previous low for the equivalent game (18476).