Thursday, May 20, 2010
In what hopefully will be the most forgettable TFC performance of the season, Toronto held on for dear life to scratch out a 0-0 draw at Vancouver Whitecaps.
You could tell before kickoff that this one wasn’t going to be a classic. The pre-match weather forecast called for gale-force winds and possible thundershowers that threatened to postpone the match. Toronto’s starting line-up included names like Jon Conway, who had yet to play a single minute for TFC this year, along with recent dog house dweller Raivis Hscanovics. Julian de Guzman was out again, replaced by 18-year-old wrecking ball Amadou Sanyang. Even everyone’s new favourite Red Chad Barrett saw himself pinned to the bench to start the match, with a still-hobbled O’Brian White – who sat out Saturday’s match at LA with an ankle ailment – taking his place up top.
Thankfully, the severe weather held off, with a bit of rainfall and a nice second-half sun shower taking is place. Unfortunately, TFC’s scrubs could not pleasantly surprise in the same manner.
Vancouver’s game plan was obvious. Throw as many guys on Dwayne De Rosario as possible, and hit long, hopeful balls up to their towering targetman Marcus Haber. In the first 25 minutes, they did both of those things to perfection, completely neutralizing Toronto’s main offensive weapon while giving their own main attacker every opportunity to create something going forward.
It almost worked, too. Haber skinned Adrian Cann in the early going and set up a decent chance for the ‘Caps. The Vancouver striker’s superb holding up of the ball showed most in the work of young ‘Caps forward cornelius Stewart, who proved himself a handful for Toronto’s backline all night.
Eventually, TFC caught on and its backline, anchored as usual by the stellar play of Nana Attakora (for the first half only), once again rendered the opposition attack useless. With both sets of forwards not doing much, the battle reverted to the midfield, and that’s where the Whitecaps held steady.
To be fair, Toronto’s starting central midfield pairing of Sanyang and Nick LaBrocca was completely makeshift and just a slight step down from the usual DeRo-JDG pairing. That said, there were times when Vancouver’s central mid pairing were dominant, which is unacceptable regardless of the circumstances.
Regardless, Toronto held steady against a highly-motivated opponent which has historically fared excellently against them, away from home, on the tail end of a brutal road trip that saw TFC reach just about every corner of the continent over a nine-day stretch. That has to be a positive going forward, as the Reds of previous years would have simply crumpled in similar circumstances (see the same fixture in 2009).
Vancouver is now on the back foot, needing wins away at both Montreal and Toronto in order to claim its first Voyageurs Cup. It says here that, with a little bit of rest and some home cooking for TFC, the results will be a bit different when these two teams meet again.
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Pros and Cons for Toronto FC at Vancouver Whitecaps, played May 19, 2010:
- Playing tired and hurt, TFC still keeps its opponent off the scoreboard (for the third straight match)
- Gabe Gala’s confidence to take on players, and beat them
- Jon Conway proving himself a steady backup to Stefan Frei
- Gala not being able to go for more than an hour, despite hardly getting many minutes all year
- O’Brian White being completely invisible, leaving Dwayne De Rosario to fend for himself
- TFC not scoring against an inferior opponent
- The midfield pairing of Nick LaBrocca and Amadou Sanyang
- The team as a whole losing possession, a lot
- Vancouver’s Marcus Haber wearing gloves. Haber, you’re Canadian and your strike partner from freaking St. Vincent is gloveless! Man up, FFS.
Posted by Rudi Schuller