The South Stand Report: Toronto FC 1:1 Philadelphia Union.
I took the Dufferin bus down to the game. It’s occasionally annoying, but generally pretty reliable and ever since they dug the little tunnel under the railway tracks at Queen, it’s been a decent way to get to BMO Field. Apparently they’re now doing construction on that underpass and so the road’s closed, and so the traffic was terrible and it took forever for the bus to get around it via Gladstone to get back to Dufferin, all very frustrating.
The clock on the north end scoreboard stopped about half way through the first half, every now and then it would jump forward a minute or two to catch up with the properly functioning south end one, but it never got properly going again all game.
3 of the 4 Vocal Minority peeps didn’t even show up fro various reasons, I went out for dinner afterwards, then drinks, then slept in, read the paper and then eventually got around to writing this roughly 20 hours later. #Laziness
Hooray for metaphors as all that nicely sums up TFC’s first half. The union put a lot of bodies in midfield, clogged things up and harassed everyone and TFC looked like they had no clue how to deal with it. They couldn’t go through it, but perhaps burned by last week’s multiple giveaways, were very cautious and unadventurous in their attempts to go around it. Off the ball movement was minimal, the passing was slow and thus everything took forever and was easily shut down, the half ending with no shots on goal from our insipid boys in red. This was how they honour the troops? By putting them to sleep?
A lot of it was down to Philadelphia of course who did a very good job, and looked equally good going forward, not just relying on breakaways but looking sharp bringing the ball forward and creating chances via quick clever passing in and around the box as well. Clint Irwin was very busy, making two excellent saves and TFC were very lucky to be only one nil down, Irwin beaten only by an absolutely delightful little chip from Alejandro Bedoya.
Anyway, whatever changes were made, or speeches speeched at half time did the trick as the second half was much better. The main difference (aside from Marky Delgado replacing Will Johnson fairly early in the second), was that they all of a sudden seemed to have discovered that they could go over the Philly roadblock. Within the first few minutes, long balls were hit wide for Jordan Hamilton to chase, or for Jozy Altidore to fight the central defenders for and it started to lead to chances and shots. It wasn’t their best half of the season by any stretch, but at least they looked lively and looked like there was a chance of them getting the goals needed to have a second consecutive playoff clinching celebration.
One of them came finally, as Jonathan Osorio dribbled around at the top of the box for a while before feeding Justin Morrow for a very nice finish to the far post bottom corner. Osorio had a very good game overall, well worth the man of the match he was awarded with in stadium. He’s often a tidy player, one who keeps moves going but isn’t really all that noticeable, but yesterday he was consistently making moves and trying shit. It didn’t always work of course, but it was nice to see and he certainly looked the most likely to create anything from midfield.
As the game went on, the reds looked more likely to get the winner, most notably when Altidore hit the post and then got his own rebound but skied it over the bar. Towards the end came the big controversy, the ball pinballing around the box and falling to Mo Babouli who failed to even get a shot off. Altidore went after the loose ball in an aggressive manner, jumping in on CJ Sapong, knocking him over, maybe stamping on his foot, and the ref blew for a free kick. ‘A bit harsh, but what the hell is Altidore so hilariously upset about?’ was my thought at the time as it looked more like a foul by Jozy than the other way round from my vantage point in 117. Other angles made it look the other way round, and I can see the arguments that it should have been a penalty, but I still don’t think it’s as clear cut as many are saying, and certainly don’t agree with the ‘the ref screwed TFC again!’ narrative that some were only too happy to warm up and air out again. Having said that, I definitely enjoyed Jozy’s ‘They’re the best referees in the world, we’re very lucky’ comment post game, that was probably his best work of the day. Also seeing Greg Vanney’s sideline tantrum on the highlight shows was very enjoyable.
The other noteworthy thing was the somewhat unsettling news that Giovinco was in Italy seeing a doctor at the weekend. I wouldn’t read any Defoe-esque drama into that, but it does suggest it might be a while before he’s back in the lineup (I’d put money on the game in Montreal after the international break). At least that did a good job of showing just how pointless and useless are the ‘Vanney says Giovinco is questionable’ type injury updates from training that the usual suspects tweet out as if we should put much stock in them at all.
Probably the main positive I’d take from this game is that Clint Irwin is back in the starting lineup and looks to be rust free which is a very good thing, and with 4 more games to get fully match sharp before the playoffs. Occasional blunders and panic inducing moments aside, Alex Bono had a very good couple of months, you can’t deny that, but I’m happy to have Irwin back out there.
So only a point and so away we trudged, denied the for realz celebration at the final whistle, though we at least got the next best thing shortly after as the playoffs were clinched by dint of Montreal losing. That’s 3 straight unsatisfactory home games now, hopefully they can find their winning form again on Wednesday when ‘Kaka and Orlando City SC’ as they were referred to by the stadium announcer come to town.