South Couch Report: New York vs Toronto

The Part I Write Before The Match :

Alright then, finally.  After a season of no particular challenge, no real drama, where no game really meant all that much, where a defeat would have led to a mere shrug, where the games often felt unimportant enough to not be worth the hassle of going down to BMO Field rather than watching on tv, finally we get a very important game as the playoffs are finally here.

69 points means TFC will be talked about a lot over the years, any time any team in the future looks like doing really well this team will be mentioned. That’s pretty cool, and hey, winning the Supporters Shield is more of an achievement anyway, whatever happens, we is the champions and all that. Is it annoying that MLS Cup gets all the glory? Absolutely, but it is what it is, and goddamnit playoffs are fun. Win all this and the whole ‘greatest team in MLS’ history moves into 100% established canon, and hey it’d be another trophy, those are fun.

Can TFC do that? They certainly can, probably will, but I’ll be a lot more confident of that if they can get past this round. I genuinely think New Jersey is the best of the other teams in the East, and they could very well be this year’s Seattle. After years of being a very good team, winning shields and all that, then falling down in the playoffs, they kind of stumbled along this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they now went all the way and finally got their first MLS Cup.

Yesterday’s game was absolutely dire, two teams happily sitting back and playing for the clean sheet, hoping something might happen up front but not really looking all that bothered to force the issue. I can’t see that happening again here, it’s not really how either of these teams play. The Red Bulls are all about the high press, everyone knows that, it’s high risk/reward stuff. TFC are good enough to be able to pass their way around that press and then take advantage. Going by the last month or so of games, basically ever since that ball bounced in off Piatti’s Arse, they’ve also looked defensively fragile enough to be exploited by that, the passing out of the back has seemed particularly rusty. Drew Moor has also been alarmingly error prone, as if he’s following through on his Steven Caldwell impression, moving from calm organiser making those around him better, to a slightly too slow defender there to be exploited, complete with multiple handballs given up.

The lineup’s what you’d expect, with Beaitashour starting ahead of Hasler.


Meanwhile, just look at the numbers in this red bulls lineup. Average of 45. Disgusting stuff, they should be ashamed of themselves. Thanks God for Felipe’s sensibleness.

Bold Predictions

  1. Giovinco scores, hopefully that free kick against Atlanta can be the start of something.
  2. At least 4 combined goals, much more interesting than most games have been so far in these playoffs.
  3. Felipe involved in at least one controversial douchebaggery moment, handbags of fake injury.

On to the match

4′ – Jersey get a free kick just outside the box, Felipe hits it hard and a couple of feet or two over the bar.

Goal 8′ – Altidore down the right wing, dances round a defender, puts in a low cross, Robles blocks it, but knocks it right into the middle of the box, Vazquez picks it up, turns and slots it past Robles and, quite undeservedly it’s New Jersey 0:1 Toronto

12′ – Giovinco dribbles across the top of the box but then loses control right when it was shooting time.

15′ – Altidore again down the right, dances round a defender and puts in another dangerous cross. Morrow meets it first time but his shot is blocked. Shame as i don’t think Robles was getting to that shot.

16′ – Jersey go right back down the other way, and Klejstan gets a shot off, deflected wide for a corner, from which nothing comes.  This is already better than last night’s game, plus the houston sporks game combined.

21′ – In a brief quiet moment, Wileman and Caldwell indulge themselves in some terrible ‘bantz’ about Caldwell being booed when he played back in England.

27′ – Free kick about 40 yards out. Giovinco looks like he wants to shoot, but eventually thinks better of it, Vazquez chips one into the box that’s easily cleared.

36′ – TFC work the ball upfield, Vazquez puts in a cross to the middle of the box, Delgado meets it roughly at the 6 yard line and his header comes back off the bar, so close to what would have been a very nice goal.

37′ – TFC get the ball into Altidore, can’t quite get free to get a shot off, but keeps going inside the box down the right, dances round some defenders, gets a shot/cross off but it’s too far ahead of Giovinco.

Penalty 45+1′ Wright Phillips takes advantage of a mixup between Delgado and Moor and gets into the box, where Moor clumsily brings him down, though it was a very soft call, well sold by Wright Phillips. This is becoming a trend for Moor, and more worryingly, he’s injured and not getting up quickly.

Goal 45+3′ Royer takes it and knocks it down the middle after Bono dives to his left.  Jersey 1:1 Toronto

Halftime mood:  Almost a very good half. TFC not exactly parking the bus, but not far off, sitting back, letting jersey keep possession, but never really letting them get into dangerous positions. A few dodgy Marky Delgado passes aside, they generally avoided  the high press quite well and got some dangerous counters in when the opportunities arose.  Very much in control, but then that penalty happened, an undeserved kick in the nuts, and all of a sudden the second half looks a lot more intriguing. Jersey obviously still need to chase goals here, so there’ll be opportunities at both ends I’d  say.

Also, pizza pops are a delicious snack if you don’t have much time.

Second half:

SUB: 45′ – Is Moor a liability more than a help? We’ll find out soon as he’s injured and replaced by Hagglund, so presumably still a 3 at the back situation. Get well soon Drew.

52′ – No good chances yet, but Jersey all over TFC so far in 2nd half.

54′ – Vazquez injured, didn’t look like a serious tackle, Felipe kind of bumped into him, but bloody hell, this wouldn’t be good. He’s up, tentatively. Chapman not on the bench, Osorio or Cooper would be the obvious replacements if needed. Vazquez on touchline trying to stand up and walk, not looking comfortable, but is now back on the pitch, not looking comfortable at all.

58′ – Corner to TFC, Vazquez still hobbling around.

59′ – Long shot from Perinelle, from the position you’d expect Vazquez to be running around in, saved easily enough by Bono. Corner just about cleared. Living very dangerously here.

61′ – Long ball over the top for Wright Phillips, couldn’t quite get it under control and Bono could come out and block his shot. Bloody hell.

62′ – Low cross in, Hagglund stretches and knocks it out. I tore my groin just watching that.

SUB: 63′ Jersey smelling blood, it’s Veron for Davis.

63′ From the corner, it goes to the back post, hard shot but right at Bono, another corner. This is not going well. On the plus side, Vazquez seems to be moving more normally.

Sub: 65′ – Vazquez off, Osorio on. Probably for the best, Vazquez a bit of a passenger, big part of why TFC looking overwhelmed.

67′ – Now Mavinga having trouble getting up after a tackle.

70′ – Good break from TFC, Giovinco puts Osorio in down left, but he decides to cut back in on to his right foot, chance gone.

72′ – Altidore bullies some defender off the ball, literally shoulder barges him to the ground, gets the ball to Giovinco who falls over pretty softly, free kick, about 25 yards out.

Goal: 73′ Seba takes it, over the wall, just inside the post, low, and Robles was way over to the other side of the goal and thus can’t get there and thus it’s in! Jersey 1:2 Toronto

78′ – Giovinco goes down as if elbowed in the head after a tussle. VAR? After the replay, no, that’d be a crazy harsh red card, Giovinco, tiny small Giovinco headbutted the arm being held at a very natural height. No card given.

Yellow Card: 80′ Perrinelle hauls Bradley down on a bit of a break. Bradley a bit slow getting up, but get up he does.

Yellow Card: 82′ Ball goes out for a goal kick, Giovinco thought it was a corner, but then he throws the ball to Robles, despite Robles already having being given a ball, and thus a yellow for timewasting. Silly.

Sub: Bezecourt on for Perrinelle

84′ Veron through and running past a pedestrian lkooking Mavinga, but Wright Phillips hits it too hard and thus it goes through to Bono.

Sub: 85′ Cooper on for Altidore.  Takes his time, Klejstan gives him a shove on the way, which really only slows him down even more. Park that bus Greg.

88′ Wright Phillips gets into the box, defenders just about manage to put him off enough that the shot is deflected wide.

93′ – Giovinco with some fanciness to Morrow who inadvertently flicks the ball up to himself and tries to shoot with his right foot. It doesn’t go well.

94′ – Wright Phillips was offside, but the ball comes to him and he tries a bicycle kick. Mavinga sticks his head in there instead, clears the ball and gets a kick to the head as his reward. Is lying down, either timewasting, or there’s a concussion check going on. Now seems to be getting up.

97′ – Bono pushes a header from Lawrence round the post, the corner eventually cleared.

Full Time: Jersey 1:2 Toronto.  The start of the 2nd half was pretty, pretty rough, but after we got back to 11 healthy players, control was more or less got back, and all in all I’d say that’s a deserved result.  Did as well as can be expected at stifling Jersey. Hopefully Moor and Vazquez aren’t too badly injured. Looking pretty good for the 2nd leg now, I’m confident.

Man of the Match : Altidore did a lot of good things and more or less set up both goals.

Goat of the Game : Delgado looked wobbly at times, but it feels harsh to give it to anyone really. Them’s the rules though, so Delgado. 

Ref Rating : 3 out of 5.  Some soft fouls called, but kept control of the game well enough I suppose. 

I Am Not The Gaffer, But… : Can’t complain, it’s the same team I’d have put out there, the subs were mainly forced rather than tactical but all made sense. Did a very good job of bottling up the red bulls and limiting their chances, while looking dangerous on the counter. Classic first leg away tactics, and a great result.  Also in 2nd half injury time, was caught on camera angrily/dismissively yelling sit down to someone off camera, presumably a heckling fan, so extra bonus points there.

In Case You PVR’d It : Watch the whole thing, especially if you’re a player or coach of Houston, Kansas, Vancouver, and Seattle and want to feel shame at your awfulness. 

Bold Predictions Results :

  1. Nailed it.
  2. More or less nailed it. Only 3 goals, but much more enthralling game than we’ve seen recently.
  3. Nailed it. Too obvious really, shouldn’t give myself any credit for that.  

Player Ratings : Bono 7 , Beitashour 6.5, Morrow 6.5, Moor 6 (Hagglund 7), Zavaleta 6.5 , Mavinga 7, Delgado 6, Bradley 7.5, Vazquez 6.5 (Osorio 6) , Altidore 7.5 (Cooper N/A), Giovinco 7.

Unused Substitutions : Irwin, Hasler, Edwards, Cooper, Ricketts

Duncan Fletcher

Author: Duncan Fletcher

Blogging journeyman formerly of Cruel Geography and Waking the Red, also briefly with Sportsnet and every now and then with the Guardian. As a supporter of Darlington, TFC, England and Canada, football’s been unfair and poking fun at Duncan for decades now, so it’s only fair he does the same right back at it. Follow him on twitter @duncandfletcher

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2 Comments

  1. A third goal for the Reds was out there in the ether but never coalesced and the team had some bad luck with Fischer.

    With all the noise about Vasquez and his wizard-like midfield play, I think a player that has made a case for being key addition this year is Chris Mavinga. He has been involved in just about every saving tackle situations and when an opposing player looks to be clear and closing in on Irwin or Bono, out of the frame of the camera comes Chris loping in, to so easily shut things down.

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    • BTW I thought the MotM was Bono.

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