Toronto FC v FC Dallas: Will TFC Falter In Frisco?

Why do you keep sending us to Frisco? Why?

After weeks – well, two weeks – of waiting, Toronto FC are finally back in action this weekend.   Can I say again how much bye weeks are the devil?  Even though they mean less games that TFC  have to play on the road to start this season, but this stop and start nonsense is difficult.  However the team is about to start a solid run of games that will perhaps allow them to build chemistry and you know, learn to play as a team.  And what better way to start this nice run of games then to head off to visit Mark Hinkley’s FC Dallas in frisky Frisco.

While this season hasn’t been a full on nightmare for TFC, it certainly hasn’t been anyone’s idea of a dream.  We always knew that the long road trip to start the season was going to cause some issues and likely bring some nervous moments.  What we apparently didn’t know – well, some of us had a pretty good idea – was the problems that the backline would face; both from injury and talent level.   Our friends over at Black and Red United put together this rather illuminating stats piece that highlights (to a scary degree) the defensive issues Toronto has thus far this season.   Yes, it’s a small sample size, but it makes you cringe just a little doesn’t it.

So now aren’t you excited to see whatever back four they cobble together for this weekend’s game?  Once again Steven Caldwell will be out, Clement Simonin has developed an issue with his knee, Warren Creavalle is suspended (I know you’re all sad about that) and well, that’s enough right?  But wait, there’s more!  Mark Bloom is available, well sort of – he’s still coming back from injury and who knows what his fitness level is like.  Similarly so is Marky Delgado – so that back four is once again looking mighty thin.

When asked about who might play at the back Greg Vanney mentioned Bloom and Delgado (although much hedging around Bloom), instead throwing out names like Jackson and Nick Hagglund…Justin Morrow mentioned that he’d be fine with playing CB again….this defensive unit couldn’t be more solid!  So what we’re potentially looking at as a best case scenario not having the preferred pieces in place is this: Jackson, Damien Perquis, Justin Morrow and Ashtone Morgan – or at least that’s how I see it.  It’s the least cringe-worthy thing I can come up with if Hagglund isn’t playing.  And it could work; it would allow Jackson and Morgan to be part of the attack and keep two very strong defenders at home when they go forward.  My only concern would be defending set pieces; which of course is always a concern for TFC but this is an area in which FCD excel.  How many times have we seen Michel whip in a perfect free kick for a goal? Or Matt Hedges in the mix on set pieces or Blas Perez? This is going to be terrifying, isn’t it?

I’ve not even mentioned Fabian Castillo, Tesho Akindele or (the eventual scorer of the winning goal), Kyle Bekker.  What about Mauro Diaz?  Well, he’s been injured and hasn’t played for a few games – which means of course he’ll start and run the midfield in circles around TFC.  Dallas possess a lot of talent and a lot of weapons – they’re mostly the same team they were last year so have lots of familiarity and chemistry (I wonder what that’s like) with one another.  They’re also on a losing streak. And not just any losing streak; no they’ve been spanked their last two games by a total of 7 goals to 1 – the last being a 4-0 drubbing by the sad sack Colorado Rapids last weekend.   Isn’t that great? A team that has faltered hard the last couple games after ruling the league to start and TFC are coming to town?  The team that has never won in Frisco?  That has a potentially porous defense with trouble defending set pieces?  Dear gods – can we concede defeat before a game starts?

Stop being so doom and gloom you say?  OK I’ll try.  Umm, Giovinco’s been looking very good and depending on Hedges (and whether Diaz plays), he could have some fun making them chase him.  He really has been fun to watch and if this team can gel then he’s going to make opposing teams suffer.  I would love to see Bright Dike out there instead of Luke Moore to cause some problems/distractions that would allow both Seba and Jozy Altidore to get into better scoring positions.  Benoit Cheyrou is settling in nicely and if he and Michael Bradley are on the same page then the attack should be able to flow through the middle without having to worry as much about the wide players.  My concern is that this is a team that went into Chicago against a faltering Fire team and fell to pieces defensively – no amount of attack is balancing out mistakes on the defensive side – both as a team (and system) and individually.

At best I’m hoping for a solid draw – I can’t even hope for a win right now.  There is opportunity for this team to find it’s feet – if they can put together anything resembling a complete game performance like they’ve managed for 30 or so minutes here and there, then good things can and will happen.  But this team isn’t consistent right now; both in lineup and play on the pitch.  Hopefully a more cautious approach is taken and Toronto can be proactive instead of reactive through much of the game; because when focused they’ve put together some very nice things.  Anything can happen but I’ll stay cautiously cynical for at least one more game.

Author: Kristin Knowles

Raised on basketball and baseball, Kristin soon saw the error of her ways when enrolled in a local football league as a child. Geography dictated she choose TFC as her team and ten years later she's still yet to flee the city. Cynically optimistic, she now channels her inner hooligan by singing random pop songs and making poor puns in the stands. May contain adult content. Find me on the internet machine @kzknowles

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30 Comments

  1. It is fate – Bekker may very well score the winning goal, as you’ve described it.

    Is Hagglund injured? It would be nice to get Morrow back to LB, but I think the back 4 you described may be better than one with Hagglund in. It’s been so long since the last game, but I’m pretty sure Hagglund looked poor, so maybe it’s better to use Morgan and Jackson on the wings anyway.

    Seriously these bye-weeks are so boring that I basically don’t bother reading much about TFC during the off-week. It all seems so pointless. And now that we’re back I’m fuzzy on who could play. Will Findley be in the lineup again? I think it would be cool to see Bright Dike in for him instead. And hopefully Altidore shows up this time too.

    Oh well, let’s see how it goes this weekend and enjoy the inevitable give-and-go passing display put on by Silva and Bekker while they simultaneously score the game-winner (that can happen, right?)

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    • As Duncan said it’s unlikely that Findley sits – Vanney seems pretty high on him and he’s been loathe to change the line-up if it doesn’t mean putting someone new on the defense.

      Bye weeks are awful. I’m very glad that they’re over for the next while – in fact we don’t have another one until the second week of June!

      I like Hagglund, but he’s not ready for the starter’s role just yet and certainly not in a struggling backline; at least not to me. Bloom did travel with the team so that’s a positive.

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      • We were wrong! He actually sat him! Not that it made an appreciable difference and he wasn’t sat for the reason we’d hoped. But still.

        Also, Bloom didn’t even practise and is still injured it would seem. Yay. :/

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  2. you may have DC’s Luis Silva confused with someone else, but aside from that, spot on, bekker to score, then assist with a beautiful free kick to ashindele, who celebrates by ripping off his jersey to reveal a usmnt jersey beneath it. will findley be in the lineup again? probably, I’d like to think not, but there’s very little talk out there of him potentially losing his place, usually such changes get telegraphed through the media, the player gets criticised and talked down to minimise revolt among us great unwashed when he gets dropped, haven’t really had that of findley yet.

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    • You’re right-I think I had Luis Silva on the brain because I looked at that stats link that Kristin posted from the DC United blog. Sorry about that – once again I blame the bye-week.

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      • lousy bye weeks!

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  3. Duncan, expect a knock at the door late one evening in the near future.

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    • well that sounds ominous. is it a good thing? are they going to be bringing me food and drinks as a reward for my vigilance and insight?

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  4. So it would seem that Mark Bloom is out as he didn’t train today. Also Cheyrou is apparently injured as well and is unlikely to play. Perquis is probable but not confirmed….

    Anyone else starting to get that sinking feeling?

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    • Remember when Nelsen was trying to bring in MLS depth and that changed to pricey aging Europeans that nobody really decided to take them to task over?! I’m sure their myelin levels are still off the chart though?

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      • not sure why that decided to post as anonymous, it was me

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        • Who needs MLS level depth when you’ve got 3 DPs that have yet to gel? The grit-o-meter doesn’t lie though. Lots of manly grit.

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          • yep. bezbatchenko was supposedly all about knowing how to work in mls, finding the bargains and building a strong squad. doing things differently and smarter, not just throwing around money on a few big names.
            and now here we are. very top heavy, and with those big contracts given to old players or injury prone players, or frequent internationals, which predictably leads to really needing that depth that you neglected to build. good job timmy.

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  5. And based on this tweet it would seem that Dike didn’t travel with the team – there goes that dream for the 18 let alone the 11. Sigh.

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  6. While I’m glad to see Jackson starting – wait, did I just say that? No, I’m actually serious – weird. Anyway, having Hagglund as a fullback makes me nervous.

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    • I should have said terrified instead of nervous. Regardless – that experiment has to end. Now.

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  7. Kurt Larson tweeted something odd about Kyle Bekker…as though he’d been traded – but I can’t find anything anywhere else about it. It is a bit odd that he’s not in the 18 though.

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    • Evaluation process is still underway… Oh ffs – umm, isn’t that what the pre-season and practise is for? It’s not as though they’ve just met.

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  8. I’ve never welcomed a power outage more in my life. Although the team doesn’t deserve any breaks. Actually let me clarify that – the team does to a degree – you cannot expect multiple players to be out of their normal positions, (with at least one just back from injury) that have barely played together to boot to hold off an experienced team like Dallas. That is something that the coach is supposed to prevent from happening. There were better options positionally than what Vanney put out there tonight. At least two of those goals are on him.

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  9. I can accept that they’re going to struggle to start the year. I can accept that they’ve had an unusual amount of injuries (although training staff I’m looking at you more and more) to start the year. What I cannot accept is the other players on the pitch not talking to one another, not attacking when given the chance. And above all I cannot accept a coach that REFUSES to change the system he’s using even in the face of terrible performance after terrible performance and knowing that he’s undermanned and does not have the ideal players for this system. Good coaches adapt.

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  10. So after three hours of a weather delay the game actually started again. In fact they finished the first half (about 4 minutes of play) and then had a half-time break as per usual…Doubtful that they come back from that nightmare of a first half. The fact that any of us are still up is amazing.

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  11. Well Seba is the real deal. Not that I had any doubt – one of the few bright spots on this season. But if you didn’t watch this game you need to find video of his goals tonight. Amazing.

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