The Long & Winding Road
If I could sit down and have a chance to interview any Toronto FC player I think the question I would ask right off the top is why he thinks TFC plays so consistently poor on the road? Is it the onerous travel restrictions in MLS? (no charter flights to keep costs down, limited time to train on the road, the amount of travel mileage criss-crossing a huge continent?) Is it a lack of confidence in themselves or their tactics? Could it be due to a lack of squad depth? Is it the absence of the 12th man that are the fans at BMO Field???
Whatever the answer or answers may be it is now painfully obvious to me that Toronto FC, if they have any hope for a playoff appearance, or a run in the Champions League, needs to find some way to address the fact that only the expansion Philadelphia union are a worse road club that TFC is. The numbers speak for themselves.
Seven MLS clubs have less than ten road points to date this season. The only one of them that currently is in the playoff picture is Toronto FC. TFC has only managed to secure 15% of the points on offer on the road this season. The league average is 34%. The other seven playoff teams as of today have secured on average 46% of the road points on offer for them to date this far in 2010.
Six MLS road games remain for Toronto. Lets look at historically how TFC has done in each venue they have yet to play in this MLS season.
- Houston: 0-2-1 record. 1 goal for and 6 against. 1 point secured from 9 on offer.
- Washington DC: 0-3-1 record. 7 goals for and 14 against. 1 point secured from 12 on offer.
- Dallas: 0-2-1 record. 4 goals for and 7 against. 1 point secured from 9 on offer.
- Seattle: 0-1-0 record. One game played in Seattle, a scoreless draw.
- Chivas: 0-3-0 record. 1 goal for and 6 against. 0 points secured from 9 on offer.
- Chicago: 0-1-2 record. 4 goals for and 5 against. 2 points secured from 9 on offer.
This by the way if you are playing along at home is a total record of zero wins, five draws and twelve defeats. So here sits TFC on 26 points with 11 games yet to play in the league. The pundits conventional wisdom is that a club needs in the range of 40-42 points to have a fighting chance to squeeze into the playoffs. For TFC that means five wins in the last eleven games. With due respect to TFC, going five for five against the likes of the Red Bulls, Crew, RSL, DC United and the Quakes is going to be a very difficult as well. Three of the top four clubs currently in MLS have yet to visit BMO Field. So let’s assume that TFC wins three of these ties left on the home docket. That still leaves two wins on the road that will need to be secured if Toronto hopes to even have a chance to even squeak into the playoffs, and the six clubs on the away docket have never ever once lost to TFC in their home stadiums…
Yes the pundits say 40-42 points will get you invited to the playoff dance but at this point even that is just a guesstimate that could prove to be widely off the mark. And last night I see TFC start somewhat brightly in New York but then the usual list of defensive errors, predictable offensive tactics, an utter lack of consistent wing play, a lack of depth and that truly almost unexplainable lack of belief in themselves crop up again. And all of these factors contributed to yet another road defeat.
There are just a little less than 500 hours left Mo for you to roll the dice on the last gamble you can make this season and that is your long stated desire for a winger before the transfer window shuts until the New Year. New player or no new player this is the team that will either get TFC into the playoffs for the first time or not.
Right now I think it is a 50/50 proposition.
Comments are always welcome and appreciated.
Why would you ask a player, Tim? Players are notoriously non-analytical when it comes to their craft. Most are properly focused on their own form and fitness, ie. doing the job that’s asked of them.
If you wanted a worthwhile answer to that question, you would ask it of a member of the coaching or management staff. Good luck getting anything but platitudes there, since TFC PR begins and ends at damage control.
You’re right that we aren’t going to make the playoffs on this pace. It’s disappointing, but I don’t see our form improving with the addition of the Champions League game to the sked. If anything, we’ll decline, due to fatigue, injury and suspension. I still think we’ve made progress this year, in some aspects of the game. As you suggest, we’re still desperately missing wide play to give us more threat, more elements to our game. NYRB were sitting and waiting for most of our attacks to come up the middle, and we kept banging our heads against that wall. That clever little winger for Motagua would be the sort of addition we need, if there were any cap space to be had.