Perquis of death.

Yep, that feels familiar.

Off season champions! That somewhat overblown claim was mainly based on bringing in Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco, which seems to have worked out so far, but also partially on the optimistic idea that Toronto FC had also fixed their centre back problems by bringing in Damien Perquis. Of course very few of us had actually seen Perquis play, but hey look at that pedigree, plenty of games in France and Spain, Euro 2012 with Poland, he was bound to be good.

Let’s forget the injury possibilities and the lack of depth that have already reared their head and shown the defence isn’t fixed, and the fact that he’s undoubtedly on a large salary that thus hinders the chance of improving that depth and instead focus on Perquis’ actual play. It hasn’t really been great has it? Which is to say, it’s usually been ok, but it’s gone wrong, with serious consequences, a lot, which isn’t what you want when you’re spending this much money. The defence has generally been a mess, not entirely Perquis’ fault, but he hasn’t been the calming organising influence we might have hoped for.

This is going to be a bit unfair, the nature of highlights mean that if a defender does his job well, that play doesn’t make the highlight reel, do it particularly well and you calmly shut things down without even making a tackle. Dull stuff. Perquis definitely does some things right, and in the interests of balance, here’s something that makes the highlight reels as he puts in a great effort to get back and block a shot after a Nick Hagglund error vs Houston.

Good effort Damien.

Anyway, there’s been a lot of obvious problems, roll the tape.

We’ll start at the beginning, in Vancouver, and absolutely awful job of marking Octavio Rivero, allowing him to hilariously miss from about 4 yards out.

On to Columbus.  There’s Justin Morrow’s red card, Perquis’ miscontrol forces Morrow into making the tackle, and his half arsed running back means that Morrow was definitely considered the last man back, so give an assist on that red card to Perquis. Then on Kei Kamara’s goal, I’m not entirely sure what he was thinking of doing when the cross came in, but it certainly wasn’t marking Kamara, he seemed oblivious to his presence.

He missed the next two games, so it’s on to Dallas, and lots of fun here. Dallas’ first goal, Perquis enthusiastically joins in with the high press, not a terrible decision, and he was never going to get back and help with Fabian Castillo here, but his effort to get back and help with any potential rebound or pass is pretty poor.

Can’t blame him on the 2nd goal, but then watch him casually watch and make no real effort to get back and help as Dallas almost get a 3rd. Then we get to the 3rd goal, which speaks for itself really.

Then there’s the yellow card for an elbow, followed by some extreme petulance, the experienced player having to be calmed and pulled away by Nick Hagglund.  Top notch game all round really.

The Orlando game was better, nothing stands out there, so on to Philly, and just watch him once again obliviously lose his man, Fernando Aristeguieta wasting the chance

He also doesn’t bother sticking close to Cristian Maidana when he hits the bar.

On to the Houston game and there’s no blame on him for the penalty, but for the second goal he does a poor job, should he concentrate on Bruin, or help out with Barnes?  How about neither. Good choice.

On to Montreal and there was a very half hearted effort from Perquis to close down Callum Mallace before the Kenny Cooper goal, followed by a good effort to chase down Dilly Duka on a breakaway at the end of the first half.  Then the poopy icing on this entire turd cake, misjudging the cross and letting Dominic Oduro score the winner on a header. Fine work.

As I said, focusing on highlights is unfair, there’s obviously been moments where Perquis has done good things, and games where he’s had a positive influence on the defence.  Also, can it be easy to play in this defence with it’s rotating cast of characters, in a side still trying to figure out how to play how Greg Vanney wants them to? Of course not, but with the big bucks that hurt the ability to build depth, and the resume he brought into TFC, you’d expect him to be the man who can organise, or at least lead by example and help out the fragile defence, in other words the obvious successor to Steven Caldwell in the middle of defence. Not only does that not seem to be happening, but the crucial, high profile mistakes, whether outright blunders or just poor inattentive defending just keep on happening, at a rate that would make Doneil Henry at his worst blush.

The season is of course young, defensive understanding should grow as the season progresses and the overall health of the defence improves so it’s premature to write off Perquis. However for TFC to be good, they can’t afford Perquis to continue like this. The amount invested in TFC’s big 6 (3 dp’s, Perquis, Cheyrou and Caldwell) was always a gamble that was going to require them to play a lot of games and play them well if TFC were going to do anything more than scramble home in the race for the 6th in an awful conference.  So far, everyone’s favourite faithful and loyal human isn’t delivering.

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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  1. It’s unfortunate that he’s had this many problems so far, but I’m still keeping faith that Perquis will get more dependable and do better. I don’t know when or if Caldwell will return, but I hope he does and it takes some pressure off of Perquis. With Caldwell out, he’s had to step into a leadership role a bit too soon I think.

    I don’t know why I’m rooting for him so much, other than I think he looks like a really good teammate. You always see him encouraging the other players when they do well, and all those photos with him, Giovinci and Cheyrou looking like the happy Euro team, makes it feel like there is something special about the group of guys TFC have assembled. Sure that means nothing in terms of on the field performance, but hopefully a strong locker-room combined with lots of talent will start to even out TFC’s performances and build some stability. Hopefully Perquis can contribute to that!

    Not sure if any of that made sense. I’m pretty tired. Anyway, cheers!

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    • It makes sense, and I’m probably being too harsh to put all that out there, it’s just with the price tag comes expectations and to me at least he’s not meeting them.
      This is maybe more of a critique of Bezbatchenko than Perquis, this isn’t a well built squad made of smart moves, the type that have been shown to work in MLS and that we were promised bez would be an expert at. Instead it’s the same thing we’ve always done, the easy way out, a quick fix by throwing money around kind of squad, with way too much invested in a small group of players, so that group of players needs to be very good if this is going to work. and to me, so far, the Perquis part of that gamble doesn’t look like it’s paying off.

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      • That’s fair, I did kind of think that when rumours of signing Perquis came out, and there was a generally positive buzz about it, that TFC maybe stopped looking at other CB options and spent the money on the sure thing. I’ve never really been that confident in their scouting of talent either (like do they even have scouts?). I think the way they sign guys is to find out who has an expiring contract and then woo them to Toronto. Regardless of how much they know about those players’ quality. Bez should remember that those players have expiring contracts for a reason – they weren’t playing well enough to get re-signed!

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      • In fairness, long before Perquis, was linked we tried to trade for Borchers and Collin.

        I’m not sure how serious the Collin stuff was (We were linked when it was established he was on the block at SKC) but we offered RSL the same type of deal Portland did for Borchers. RSL received numerous bids for him and as he was a vet let him pick where he wanted to go. He chose Portland.

        So from the looks of it, they went for an established MLS CB, couldn’t do a deal and went shopping in Europe.

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        • That’s a fair point, and I think Borchers would have done a good job here, similar to boswell in dc or marshall in Seattle for example. Having to compete against other teams, and deal with some players not wanting to come to toronto (I’d avoid it like the plague if I had a choice and they couldn’t blind me with money) makes it probably more difficult to build a squad from smart moves for MLS ready players than bezbatchenko thought it would when he took over here.

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  2. It was Jozy Altidore when recently interviewed, said the problems TFC are facing stem from the inability of some team members to concentrate on the game at hand. I thought of Perquis being the target of this comment from Jozy and later in that very same game got a first hand example from Damien. Perhaps Perquis is being conflicted by the modernity of his circumstance. Like many before him the league has surprised him and like some, Toronto and it’s unique culture has not been restful for Damien. Those issues can eventually be righted. Or perhaps it is a physical but latent injury, a visual impairment that even though slight, can hinder your ability to assess a situation. This is something Bez and Vanney need to address but both are under fire and they themselves are finding Toronto not restful.

    Sitting Perquis on the bench may seem like it would add another burden to the Toronto defense but it may be the only way forward and may hold some rewards for Damien and Toronto.

    Post a Reply
    • I wouldn’t go as far as benching him (though maybe if and when Caldwell returns it’s an option, hopefully by then he’ll have played himself into form and that’ll seem silly) but I think it’s a valid option to be bringing up, which isn’t really good news when talking about one of your big off season signings who should be one of the pillars the team is built around.

      Post a Reply
      • Well I don’t see this getting better with him playing through whatever he is dealing with. He needs some time off, nothing punitive, just a supportive jesture. Right now, it is starting to sound like some on the team are venting in the locker room and to the press about the defensive shortcomings.

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