Monday, May 2, 2011

Is Toronto FC the worst team in the MLS?

Saturday was a disaster.

A 3-0 loss is always a better pill to swallow for any team, but for one trying to re-built both on a off the pitch it is extremely harsh. While most Toronto sports fans had their eyes glued to the blood and glory at Rogers Centre Saturday night, a small dedicated group of football supporters gather at bars or around t.v's to watch their ever evolving Reds take on the Sounders in Seattle. What they saw might have sent them to even heaver drinking than when the team plays at home. 

I could go into all the tactical issues that occurred in the game and what exactly went wrong, but the only thing one needs to know is that the fight was not there. Head coach Aron Winter, his coaches and some players described the loss in three words; Embarrassing. Shameful and Frustrating. In all sports; especially in Toronto, the effort is as important as the win. Obviously this town wants a winner, but this town has been without a winner for so long now we can settle for second place until then. This town can even forgive a lack of quality if you give it your all. However what we can't forgive is a poor, spineless effort. Or in the words of Columbus defender Chad Masrshall after last week's 1-1 draw at BMO " This team is not very good". On evidence of the first 8 games of the season, this is the worst team in the league.*

Yes I am aware that Toronto currently does not have the worst points total in the league, that belongs to Sporting Kansas City. However I've watched a few SKC games, and although they lack quality in the midfield... they fight. When I watch TFC go down in a game, I have no sense or feeling that they could mount a come back. Most teams in a situation like that can pour on the pressure and create chances to tie the game. In both Saturday's game and the 3-0 home loss to D.C United a few weekends ago, you had no belief that this team could mount any kind of challenge. The passing was poor, there was no creative spark anywhere on the pitch. Players were afraid to play the ball, which has become a recurring theme for the coaching staff. The defence caved in easily and  maybe the most startling thing, Aron Winter seemed to have no answer.

Granted the team is only 8 games into a 36 game season, so there is a lot of football left to played, and at times they have shown that the system Winter is trying to bring in is starting to sink in. But glaring questions still remain; where are the goals going to come from? who is going to be that creative force in the midfield? (Lets face it De Guzman is not the answer here) Can they strengthen the defence? And  maybe the most important question, when things get really tough; and they will before they get better, Can Aron Winter keep this team motivated?

3 of those 4 questions won't be answered until the European transfer window opens in July.

The fourth maybe answered in the next few weeks, if the recent results continue. I'm not trying to suggest that Winter will be fired anytime soon; but it could potentially derail the continuing installation of the "Dutch" style of play.

*I left an asterisk beside my statement of TFC being the worst club because all of this is still a work in progress. If the club can add two or three quality players to the fold they have the potential of being a very explosive team. They also have have on of the best goal keepers in the MLS in Stefan Frei, so if they can upgrade their defence they could become a much more solid team at the back. But for now these are all ifs, and ifs for a fan base starving for success may not be good enough.


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