The South Couch Report: Toronto vs Columbus.

Columbus Crew as the Cleveland Stokers

The part I write before the game: South Couch Report? goddamn do you ever go to games any more?  Back off, I’m sick (well, more recovering from being sick really, which wasn’t helped by going to Tuesday’s game) and also, fuck you, I went to a game at BMO Field in February! My hardcoriness is proven, I can miss any game now and no-one can say shit! Anyhooo……

Alright, MLS is back, and because they had to get the pitch ready for the CCL game when they usually wouldn’t have it ready this early, TFC decided they wanted to go with the novelty of having their season opener be at home.  Cos yeah, going to BMO Field this early in the year is what fans are crying out for!  and yeah, cos having 3 games in just over a week, in late february/early March will leave the pitch in great condition! maybe that’s the plan, fuck with Tigres by having them play on a shitty pitch as well as in the cold, who knows?

Anyway, it’s the last ever home game against Columbus (RIP) and the start of an entire new MLS season and step one to moving from good team to DYNASTY!!!! There’s going to be flags unfurled in the north end to commemorate previous triumphs and presumably other kinds of first game special ceremonies, but I’m typing this from home so won’t really be seeing any of that, so shall I just get on with it? Sure, to the lineups.

Moor rested (presumably) I’m ok with that decision, there’s a bigger game on Wednesday night. Van der Wiel in instead of Auro, cool, happy to get a look at him and see what he’s all about. Then look at that midfield! We’ll obviously see how they’re set out and how they play, but just from looking at it, it’s a very attacking and very sexy midfield that should be full of quick short passing that could tear any team in MLS to shreds! and yay for Osorio still making the lineup!

Or alternatively, no Delgado means Osorio will have to be a lot more defensively focused and will that work as well? Will Bradley be left with too much to do, cos that’s often when he stops looking effective. Will players immediately click and all that short passing on the same wavelength immediately happen?  Remember last year when it took quite a few games for Vazquez and the rest of the team to fully figure each other out? I’d say there’s a good chance of that again here.

I’d love to think this lineup could work, even if not as the de facto everyday lineup, but as a reliable, regularly used option, cos goddamn, imagining the best case scenario has my inner Kevin Keegan loving it.  My inner Preki though thinks it probably won’t work, and we’ll need something more pragmatic and I’m especially skeptical it’ll click immediately.

All we can do though is wait and see how it works out, despite pretty much all the media basically coming out and acting like fans and straight up assuming that Aketxe, Van der Wiel and everyone else are fantastic signings that will definitely work out, all hail Bez and co, the best team is undeniably better.  No they’re not, they’re probably better, but let’s wait a little shall we?

Columbus lineup:

Bold Predictions :

  1. Disappointing 1:1 game
  2. TFC fans disappointingly not doing any kind of ‘save the crew’ chant, even though Don Garber’s in attendance.
  3. Aketxe does at least one really nice thing, and quite a few infuriating things (I can’t help it, I’m English, my default is ‘don’t trust the crafty foreigner’).

Pre match, trophies brought out, fucking De Ro with the Voyageurs Cup, Dichio with the Shield and Cheyrou with the MLS Cup

On to the Match :

3′ – TFC Giveaway leads to first chance for Columbus, Martinez knocks it wide.

9′ – Giovinco gets given the ball by Columbus. Does some fanciness, tries a pass that doesn’t work, comes back to him and he hits a weak shot right at the goalie.

10′ – Wow the long dreads/manbun combo on that Columbus player is something special. Bono’s kit is awful. Huh, Toronto’s centre forward appears to be playing at left back. bold. Not much really happening so far

12′ – Higuain with a lovely ball through to Martinez behind the defence. Morrow’s with him though. But Martinez burns Morrow. But then shoots just wide.

17′ – Altidore fouled, but ball runs to Giovinco, ref plays advantage but it’s Seba vs about 6 of them, with no help, nothing comes of it, probably the free kick would have been better.

20′- Giovinco has a shot form 25 yards out, deflects out for a corner

22′ – Morrow with a nice move down the left, into the box, cuts it back for Giovinco but Abubakar just blocks the pass and nothing comes from it.

Yellow Card: 24′ –  Martinez. Aketxe fouled by Martinez, for some reason Martinez gets all feisty then kicks the ball away and gets a yellow for that.

28′-29′ – That sexy football I was talking about, we just got about a minute of it, all sorts of delightful touches and flicks and passes, and not pointless stuff either.  It came to nothing, but it almost did, and it looked really good.  All in all, after a dodgy first 15-20 minutes or so, TFC coming into it a lot more now.

41′ – Jordan Hamilton reference! Talking about the game against Crew last season, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to CanCon with this team.

Goal: 44′ Higuain. Artur out wide to Valenzuela, crosses in to Higuain who gets a shot off, very close to Bono, who gets a hand on it, but fucks it up and it’s in. Oh dear. Toronto 0:1 Austin Celtic

Caldwell says “Maybe, being hypercritical, Bono should have kept that one out’  Fuck off you terrible homer. It’s not ‘hypercritical’ to suggest that Bono should have done better there, that’s just normal unbiased opinion.

Halftime Mood : ‘It’s 2012 all over again’ – RedwineRoz.  That’s obviously an exaggeration, but all in all, if you bought into the ‘TFC were the best team ever (fact) and have made some great additions that will undoubtedly work out and are thus even better (wait and see how they all work out maybe)’ hype the media’s being feeding you, that was probably a bit of a shock. Not a great half, there were some good moments, some signs of promise that when everything clicks we could be really good, but all in all, there’s still work to be done.  Which is exactly where you’d expect the team to be this far into the season.

TFC appear to have decided not to come out for the 2nd half. no, here they are! Hopefully playing with the wind will be helpful in the 2nd half.

Goal: 46′ – Zardes: Big gap between the centre backs, Santos slips a ball through to Zardes, who shockingly gets a very good shot off and it’s in.  Well then. Toronto 0:2 Austin Celtic

48′ TFC with a chance but wasted, then Vazquez has a go from a long way out, but misses.

49′ Much like the goal, Columbus running down TFC’s right, Santos puts a ball in behind the defence, doesn’t quite come to Zardes this time. Aketxe doesn’t seem to be much of a defensive presence at the moment.

Sub 51: Vazquez off for Auro. Hopefully not a serious injury. Intrigued to see what happens here lineup wise.

seems to be the old 3-5-2/5-3-2 thing, Auro the right wingback.

57′ – Osorio gets a shot off that’s not quite good enough to beat Steffen.

59′ Pedro Santos makes Van dew Wiel look slow and bad, nothing comes of it, but not a good look.

Kristian Jack says the team doctor told him Vazquez has a bit of pain in his upper leg/lower back.  Old man problems I’d guess.

Wileman and Caldwell talk about free kicks and you’ve got Giovinco and then Aketxe as well, who’s going to take them?

Me, head starting to explode: “Giovinco’s going to take them, of course he is, we all know that.”

Caldwell: I can’t see Geeovinco giving them up, maybe if he misses 8 or 10 in a row, but who can imagine that happening?

Me, head now exploding: ‘That happens all the fucking time, Jesus fucking Christ!”

Seriously that very much happened. Anyway, back to the game

63′ – Bit of pressure, and some nice touches, but nothing really happens.

64′ – Wet Wiedeman reference. TSN desperately trying to convince people not to give up, going through times TFC have scored late in the past against Columbus, including that 2013 game.

66′ Giovinco with a lovely curling shot comes back off the post. Rebound comes to Auro with a gapingly empty net, decides to cross rather than shoot. Shocking decision. no goal.

68’ – It’s been all TFC for a while, but Columbus break, and then do some good pressing, Valenzuela gets a shot off after some fanciness from Higuain, deflected and Bono does well to react to the deflection and catch the ball.

Sub: 71′ – Delgado on for Osorio.

Columbus all over Toronto right now, making it difficult to play out the back, forcing a lot of sloppy errors.

75′ – Santos through, Van der Wiel gives him a bit of a shoulder, Santos falls over and wants a penalty, not given.

Sub: 77′–  Santos off Argudo on.

79′ – Aketxe in fucking acres of space in midfield somehow, decides to have a go cos why not if they’re going to invite him to. Beats Steffen, hits corner of post/bar.

Sub: 80′ – Hasler on Aketxe off.

80′ – Altidore sent in behind the defence, knocks it past Steffen, but just wide of the post.

84′ Auro decides he’s been fouled down the right wing. It’s not given and he just stands there to argue and the crew have a good attack from that.

85′ Giovinco through down the left, decides to cross to Altidore who’s also open in the middle. it’s not a good cross, slow, gets held up on the pitch and the defence get there first.  Typical Seba, need to be more selfish!

Sub 88′ – Higuain off, Crognale on.

 

Full Time : Toronto 0, Austin Celtic 2

Man of the Match : Osorio?  Nobody really comes to mind, but he did some good stuff and should continue to start ahead of Aketxe rather than it being seemingly some kind of automatic thing that Aketxe is part of the first 3 midfielders on the team sheet as many people including TSN today seem to think.
Goat of the Game : Van Der Wiel. Way too early to draw conclusions, but not a great looking start for the new number 9.
Ref Rating : 4 out of 5. No complaints really.
I Am Not The Gaffer, But… : Too many attacking midfielders. Don’t abandon that idea altogether, but it didn’t really work out today did it?
In Case You PVR’d It : It’s not terrible by any means, but don’t treat it as must see TV.

Bold Predictions Results :

  1. Failed it. Wose than expected
  2. Nailed it. I certainly didn’t notice anything, disappoining.
  3. Nailed it. Infuriating’s the wrong word, but I’d say overll a net negative for today.

 

Well, there goes the 100 point season! and probably, there goes the Trillium Cup.

Wasn’t a terrible performance by any means, they had some good spells, there were moments where you really see the potential, and hey they hit the bar twice, a bit of luck and that’s 2 goals and who knows what might have happened from there.  Also, it’s still early in the season, it’s going to take a while for everything to come together, remember last season, it was frustrating for a month or so before it all clicked, remember how Vazquez didn’t look like he quite knew how to fit in? Remember how Mavinga looked awful, in his first game. etc etc. No need to panic really, in Vanney we trust and all that.  Except that probably the biggest game of the season before December is coming up on Wednesday, very unfair, but it is what it is and today’s performance wasn’t entirely convincing in the whole ‘can we beat a better team that’s in mid season form and intensity level?’ side of things.

Forgetting all about the rest of the season for a moment, how did they look today? Not great, Van der Wiel was unimpressive, Aketxe seems to be another luxury midfielder, he’s clearly got some talent, but there’s a limit to how many of those players you can have out there at the same time, that midfield looked like a gamble and it really didn’t pay off today. Columbus were all about attacking the Van der Wiel/Aketxe side of the team and too many times they had way too much space in midfield to do their stuff.

Credit to Columbus they played well and did all the workmanlike stuff to make it difficult for TFC. Higuain and Santos and Artur and Valenzuela really brought the attacking flair as well, and if Zardes can keep on scoring goals, they’ll be a very good team this year.  As for TFC, well, much like the intensity the Crew brought here, a lot of teams are going to be bringing their best effort against Toronto, seeing it as a chance to test themselves, treating it like a cup final, all those old cliches, so it’s going to be a tough slog to match that effort game after game all year. Dynasties ain’t easy.

Player Ratings: Bono 6, Van de Wiel 5, Mavinga 6, Zavaleta 6, Morrow 6, Bradley 6, Osorio 6.5 (Delgado 6), Vazquez 6 (Auro 6) Aketxe 5.5 (Hasler N/A), Altidore 6, Giovinco 6.

Unused Substitutions: Irwin, Moor, Chapman, 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. “Will Bradley be left with too much to do, cos that’s often when he stops looking effective…Remember last year when it took quite a few games for Vazquez and the rest of the team to fully figure each other out? I’d say there’s a good chance of that again here.” – Very prophetic.

    Well with my cable company struggling with a city-wide phone, internet and TV outage, I reeled through the pvr’d game.

    Now that is two in a row, where the Reds walked through a disjointed game. This one was not as bad as the last one, The problem was the opposition was a whole lot better. Add to the mix the obvious, Seba is still out-of-sorts.

    Reds defense was at times too thin, Morrow and van der Wiel were caught up-pitch often and Mavinga was not quite quick enough for Martinez, Zardes and Higuain.

    The first goal was because of a gaping hole in the middle of that diamond and Bradley “doing too much” and not closing out Higuain and van der Wiel needing to be harder on the tackle (even in the box, this is the MLS).

    The second goal was Aketxe playing like someone totally lost in the diamond. He was up-pitch and ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE of the pitch, when Crew were roaring down on the TFC goal.

    Despite all the negatives, there is still some magic in this team, it is just the slight-of-hand (foot) needs some work.

    Not sure how the CCL game will go this week, thinking it won’t be good. The team will likely rebound, but just not in time for the Tigres. If they don’t rebound then there will be no CCL trail and it will be a very long season. But let’s see how the next 2 weeks go.

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  2. (sighhhhhhhh) YYYYYAWNNNNNNNNNNNNN (sighhhhhhhh) That game was a massive bore. The Rapids showed up to playbut they are the Rapids so we got missed shots and passes to Bono. There are some potential issues starting to bubble up from Auro. Agetxe will have to integrate himself into the TFC system, he was good and tried hard, but not involved with what Oso, Delgado, Morrow and others were doing. Vanney will need to stand this team up this weekend in preparation for next week. write custom essays

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