Posts Tagged ‘toronto fc’

By Evan Ream

When Vancouver Whitecaps FC acquired Sebastien Le Toux for allocation money this morning, a lot of eyebrows were raised in MLS circles in the United States and Canada. Despite finishing last in goals in 2011 with just 35, the Whitecaps already have two double-digit goal-scorers on their roster in Camilo (12 goals) and Eric Hassli (10). They also spent their last two first-round draft picks on forwards: Omar Salgado (no. 1 overall) and Darren Mattocks (no. 2). Their roster is rounded out with passable reserve forwards Atiba Harris and Long Tan.

I understand that the 4-3-3 is becoming popular in MLS, but will a front line of Camilo, Hassli and Le Toux be enough to make up for a defense that finished third-to-last in goals allowed with 55? Vancouver is starting to remind me of another certain Canadian team when it comes to their team building. Though they are trying to right the ship by signing veteran defenders, their approach doesn’t really make sense when their two marquee signings – Jay DeMerit and Lee Young-Pyo – are both on the wrong side of 30. Vancouver may have a decent team, but they are following in the footsteps of Toronto FC.

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By Evan Ream

 

DC United traded Dax McCarty straight up for Dwayne De Rosario, and I’m not really sure how to feel about it. DC started the year with a promising youth movement that included Dejan Jakovic (25 years old), Charlie Davies (25), Jed Zayner (26), Chris Pontius (24), Andy Najar (18), Dax McCarty (24), Ethan White (20), Bill Hamid (20), Chris Korb (23), Perry Kitchen (19), Santino Quaranta (26), and Conor Shanosky (19). All of these players looked to be promising contributors for the next 4-5 years at the very least. Many DC fans such as myself were excited that, while this year might not be the year to win anything, DC could build with all these young players and do something in the next three to four years, possibly become a dominant team. Then DC gave up on their 24-year-old captain and midfield fulcrum to acquire a 33-year-old player in the final year of his contract.

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>By Evan Ream

Wow, what a great opening weekend! MLS First Kick 2011 has made me upset that it is only Monday now and I have to wait until Friday to watch more. This weekend had it all: There were goals, upsets, red cards, dream debuts, flops, and tons of drama. Here are a few thoughts on each of the games that took place this weekend:
LA Galaxy 1 Seattle Sounders FC 0
Despite the score line, this was actually an even game that was won by a single moment of brilliance from Juninho. The bad news is that Seattle had nearly all of their first choice starters while LA was missing Donovan Ricketts, Omar Gonzalez, Gregg Berhalter, and Juan Pablo Angel. The game itself was actually pretty boring; Seattle looked like they didn’t even want to be there. O’Brian White missed a few chances that Blaise Nkufo would have likely put away, but that is why he couldn’t even get minutes for Toronto last year. No one on Seattle looked very good. Steve Zakuani showed flashes, but we got the first glimpse of what may turn into a long season for Seattle.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4 Toronto FC 2
This may have been the game of the week; good thing the feed was totally working on Match Day Live…OH WAIT! After this game, maybe Vancouver showed us that they did actually know what they were thinking all along, or maybe they were just playing Toronto FC. Toronto looks terrible, they will need to get things together for this week’s game against Portland: to lose to two expansion teams in two weeks would probably end any hope they had of being good at all this season. Vancouver’s Eric Hassli had a great debut; showing that he can be the goal scorer they need. The important player for them however, may end up being Davide Chiumiento, who showed class and skill in the Whitecaps inaugural game. For now, the Whitecaps are near the top of the table and it will be interesting to see if they can stay there.
 
DC United 3 Columbus Crew 1
Everyone will remember this as the Charlie Davies comeback game, but for United fans it was so much more. Even without Davies, United dominated this game with their new acquisitions. They had some unforced errors and slip-ups, but this can be attributed to the new players. Dax McCarty, though he struggled on his set piece delivery, was impressive from the get go and combined well with the other midfielders. The biggest question for United was about the defense, which proved strong. Perry Kitchen looks like a Rookie of the Year candidate and Dejan Jakovic looks like a possible Defender of the Year. The way the United team played as a whole was impressive, stringing together passing sequences that haven’t been seen since the Jaime Moreno-Christian Gomez days. Unexpectedly, Josh Wolff was very impressive up front and was unlucky to not score more than one goal. If there was a downside to the whole day for United, it was that Joseph Ngwenya was absolutely awful, but once Davies gets 90-minute fit, he shouldn’t be starting anyways. United look to have the depth (especially in midfield) to make a strong playoff run this year. On the flip side, Columbus were awful. Though they had a similar number of shots on goal and possession to United, the quality of each was just not the same. Columbus was unimaginative in the final third and did almost nothing attacking wise until Robbie Rogers came on. If Robbie Rogers is your key offensive player, your season is definitely not looking good.
 
New York 1 Seattle 0
This game is all about three things: Thierry Henry’s penalty miss, Juan Agudelo’s first start and goal, and Seattle’s second consecutive mailed in performance. Thierry Henry was pretty bad and is apparently now injured again; that doesn’t bode well for NY. On the bright side, Juan Agudelo scored an amazing first career goal. The 18 year old who had just two regular season and two playoff games combined coming into this game showed that he has the potential to be the real deal. Agudelo should be one of the biggest storylines in MLS this season. For Seattle though, things aren’t looking so good. Has Sigi Schmid lost this team? I know they lost to two of the best teams in the league in one week, but outside of Steve Zakuani there was no spark; no one seemed like they wanted to win. Only time will tell, but for Seattle they are one loss away from being in panic mode.
 
FC Dallas 1 Chicago 1
There isn’t much to report here other than that Dallas (outside of Zach Loyd) didn’t look as good as they did last year. It will be interesting to see if Brek Shea continues to get minutes at center back; I doubt Schellus Hyndman will let just one red card get in the way of this experiment. Chicago was equally as unimpressive, though they did get a point on the road, which is more than anyone expected from them.
 
Philadelphia Union 1 Houston Dynamo 0
This is a very impressive result for the Union, who will look to make the playoffs for the first time this year. The defense looked very solid, as did new keeper Faryd Mondragon. This is the type of game that Philadelphia was incapable of winning last year; a low scoring affair where the team grinded out a victory while not playing the best soccer. Unfortunately for MLS and Union fan, Carlos Ruiz was back to his antics. There is perhaps no player in league history I hate more than Ruiz; he deserved a red for his reckless elbow to Andrew Hainault’s head. Houston should have taken at least a point though; Dominic Oduro once again proved his reputation as a terrible finisher by missing a sitter. This Houston team badly misses Brian Ching.
 
Colorado 3 Portland 1
Not really a surprising result from Colorado here. The Timbers showed that their defense is suspect and Colorado showed that their attack is great. This game went down pretty much as everyone expected it to.
 
Real Salt Lake 1 San Jose Earthquakes 0beckerman_RSL_205
I was at this game and I am proud to report that so far my prediction (link to MLS preview) of Chris Wondolowski coming back down to earth is so far correct. Both teams had pretty much the same amount of good play, but RSL showed that their players (in this case Kyle Beckerman) have more class when it matters. Beckerman hit a screamer of a goal while Wondo was forced to rue his three missed sitters.
 
Sporting KC 3 Chivas USA 2
I thought KC’s attack would struggle in the first part of the season, especially without Teal Bunbury. Apparently, I was wrong as KC put up a 3 spot on the road against a pretty decent defense. It is too early to tell if KC will be one of the best teams in the league or if Chivas will be one of the worst (likely it will be somewhere in the middle ground), but for now, what we can take away is that new Sporting KC designated player Omar Bravo looked like the real deal, scoring two goals. It will be fun to watch what this attack can do once it gets Teal Bunbury back.
 
LA Galaxy 1 New England Revolution 1
The Galaxy should have won this game. Period. I don’t care what the ref called, or how many goals got called back. The Galaxy had the ball pretty much the whole game and limited the Revolution to pretty much two chances the entire game. Landon Donovan looked like he didn’t want to be there as did a lot of the rest of the LA team, but they still dominated the whole game and have absolutely no excuse to not have 6 points from two games. The Galaxy will likely lose next week to Real Salt Lake and they will lament their missed opportunities in this game. If they lose the Supporter’s Shield by only 1 or 2 points, they can look back to this game as to why. For New England, despite getting the result, it looks to be another long year. Shalrie Joseph is the only player worth noting on this team; it is only a matter of time before he becomes frustrated with his inferior teammates and gives up. Very few MLS teams have ridden one player all the way to a playoff berth, but the Revolution will have to do exactly that this year.
 
Golden Boot Watch:
Player                       GP     G     A
Charlie Davies            1        2      0
Omar Bravo               1         2     0
Eric Hassli                 1        2     0
Juninho                      2        2     0
Atiba Harris                1        1     2
 
Unbeaten Teams Remaining:
DC United
Sporting KC
New York Red Bulls
Philadelphia Union
Chicago Fire
New England Revolution
LA Galaxy
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Colorado Rapids
Real Salt Lake
FC Dallas

>By Evan Ream, with help from the Intern


Last Year: 9-13-8 35 points, 5th in East, 11th overall
 
Key Losses: O’Brian White, Chad Barrett
 
Key Additions: Nathan Sturgis
 
Projected Starting XI: This is the lineup that I would hope that Toronto would use. Of course then I remembered that we are actually dealing with Toronto FC, who are quickly becoming Isaiah’s Knicks of MLS; all that is missing is a sexual harassment lawsuit. Keeping this in mind, they will probably do something inherently stupid (you know like trying to play a 4-3-3 with a bunch of mediocre players). Stephan Frei is solid in goal and should be the first choice starter to complement a mediocre backline led by a former male model (Adrian Cann), a guy who quit soccer to do volunteer work after his rookie season (Ty Harden), a guy who has torn his ACL twice (Dan Gargan), and a decent player (Nana Attakora). This backline looks fairly hopeless; I don’t know why they haven’t signed anyone else. Their midfield, which looks to be their strong suit, has probably the most overpaid player in MLS right now (Julian De Guzman), a player who is always injured (Nathan Sturgis), and a player who got traded away from Colorado when they sucked (Nick LaBrocca). Their two outside forwards include one player who was cut by Martin Vasquez’s Chivas USA team (Maicon Santos) and a player who has nine goals in 116 MLS appearances. Dwayne De Rosario is one of the top 11 players in MLS history. If you are counting at home, that is two players out of 11 that don’t have some kind of issue or problem. As I write this, I’m sure that this team will pull a 2010 San Jose Earthquakes and make me look like an idiot because some career journeyman like Jacob Peterson will score like 25 goals.
 

Maicon Santos          Dwayne De Rosario          Jacob Peterson
 
Nick LaBrocca          Julian De Guzman          Nathan Sturgis
 
Nana Attakora          Adrian Cann          Ty Harden          Dan Gargan
 
Stephan Frei

 
Prognosis: This team is pretty bad; they might be the worst team in the league. Dwayne De Rosario will get them a few wins just based on the fact that he can put up 15 goals for any terrible team. Julian De Guzman needs to stop mailing in every single game he plays for this team to be successful, which doesn’t seem likely. If you are looking to wager on which team will win this year’s wooden spoon as the worst team in the league, look no further. What is sad is that this team might actually only is the third best team in Canada (behind Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the NASL’s Montreal Impact). I didn’t really think that last year’s Toronto team could get any worse, but then they traded away their first round draft pick, cut a bunch of decent guys, and then didn’t sign anyone to cover for their losses. This may be the most poorly run team in terms of team management in MLS right now. You know things are bad when your star player decides that he is going to train with another club during the offseason without informing anyone, and then asks to be transferred or signed to a Designated Player deal. Yeah, this season is going to be bad.
 
The Intern’s Take: This season looks pretty bleak for Toronto. Unless Jürgen Klinsmann can do some great consulting this year and produce something miraculous, TFC seem destined to struggle. Along with De Rosario, I am looking forward to watching more of Maicon Santos, who joined TFC mid-season last year and knocked in four goals including this shot (Columbus goalkeeper Will Hesmer was to have the last laugh in that game however, scoring the equalizer late in stoppage time). After leaving their disappointing DP Mista unprotected in the Expansion Draft and choosing not to renew his contract this season, TFC now have two open DP spots. Dwayne De Rosario seems determined to do all he can to secure one of those spots and he probably deserves one, considering he scored nearly half of TFC’s goals last year. Whether he signs a DP contract or not, there will still be a slot open, and TFC should consider trying to fill it, probably with a defender, because the back line will be their biggest weakness this year. Based off of Evan’s projected starting lineup, TFC’s strengths make up the spine of their formation: Frei in goal, De Guzman in the middle of the field, and De Rosario leading the attack. The players on either side of this central line still have a lot to prove though, and until that happens it’s hard to see Toronto making a serious run at a playoff spot this season. The difficulties this organization is going through are truly unfortunate because their fan support is great and deserves a solid team; a playoff game at BMO would surely have an incredible atmosphere (and no, last year’s MLS Cup does not count since TFC were not playing in it).

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