Commentary on 5/21 vs. TFC

My first game back at Audi Field after a three year hiatus in Tennessee. \o/

Sadly, on a warm Saturday evening with no competition from the Nats, Caps, Wizards, or Commies, the stadium was only half full. If you don't fully invest in the on-field product and you don't follow through on basics like the stadium roof, this is what you get, folks. :(

The good:

  • Julian Gressel, who worked hard all night and had several fine, defense-splitting passes.
  • Chris Durkin was very active and generally effective, albeit with a few poor turnovers along the way. His time in Europe clearly did good things for him... he is much stronger, more agile, and more focused than what I recall of him in his first stint here.
  • Team spacing in the attack. Toronto obviously has some big issues, much more than will be resolved by the arrival of Insigne, but our boys nonetheless did well to find channels, shift the ball into weak zones, and create good chances.
  • Obvs it was great to have Flores score the early goal. Like others here, I didn't see the level of play from him that we want to get out of a primary DP, but it would be nice to not have the investment completely wash out.
  • The flick that Taxi got off to keep the ball alive so the second goal could be scored. He had no chance of scoring directly and couldn't direct a pass, but he stayed with the play and prevented TFC from smothering it, and the bounce went our way.
The bad:
  • Our own defensive coordination left much to be desired. In general, we needed good individual defensive plays to bail out from situations where TFC players had been granted space and time in or near the box.
  • We had a number of head-scratchingly bad passing decisions spread across the squad. The team drifted in and out of focus throughout the match.
  • In the world of MLS 1.0, Brad Smith would have been a decent player, the sort you had in half the starting jobs on the field b/c the league wasn't that good, nobody had any depth, and you accepted the warts to get the occasional good play. In 2022, he's inadequate and needs to be replaced. Simple as.
The ugly:
  • The last 6-7 minutes, once TFC had tied it up, were pathetic. Yes, it's hot and muggy. Spare me. Half the team had been substituted in the second half, the crowd was eager to get behind anything they might do, and instead they just mailed it in. The mood in the stands at the final whistle was edgy and angry, and almost broke out into serious booing. I hope the players felt it, but I don't have any faith that they cared.
Immediately after the game ended, Chad Ashton was out on the field talking to (IIRC) Robertha and Pines about their play down the stretch. On the one hand, it's good to see immediate follow-up to drive home lessons while the experience is fresh. On the other hand, the thought that sprang to my mind was, "You're coaching, Chad. Try managing. If you can." Possibly unfair, but I wasn't in a mood to be charitable.

My comment above about Brad Smith could be extended to the squad as a whole... 10 years ago, this collection of players would have been pretty decent, and you could see a good manager making a title run if he got all the parts working together, but the league has grown and moved on, and we're still trying to compete by relying on the Luis Silvas, the Stephen Kings, the Danny Cruzes, the Devon McTavishes, and the Greg Janickis of the current MLS world. It's not working, it's not going to work, and I wonder how long it will be before DCU stops pretending that it might.