In TFC’s short history, it is unlikely that it has played as impressive a game as it did last week. It’s played better. More skillfully. But, never more impressive.
With six regulars out of the line-up—Danny Dichio, Amado Guevera, Laurent Robert, Carl Robinson, Tyrone Marshal and Greg Sutton—and one fighting jet-leg--Mo Edu—a Reds fan could have been forgiven for having low expectations heading into the game. Even though L.A. was missing a couple key components themselves, Toronto struggles with depth.
A 0-0 draw seemed a real possibility.
And when the sky’s opened up just before half, bringing a truly wicked rain, that scoreless draw was looking more and more likely. It wasn’t as if Toronto wasn’t creating chances—it just wasn’t converting (another old story for the still new team).
But, then first-round draft pick Julius James got his head to the ball and the ball to the back of the net in just his 28th minute on the pitch all season. The rain had stopped, but the floodgates had opened up for Toronto. L.A. was forced to push forward and Toronto took advantage. No, they didn’t pile the goals up—that’s never going to happen with this team—but they did control things. Completely and totally control things.
Toronto was 1995 New Jersey Devils smothering. It likely wasn’t pretty for a neutral fan, but it was beautiful to the only 20,000 fans in MLS who would rather watch Dichio than Beckham.
With the win, Toronto moves to within three points of first place overall. With a game in hand!
Next up for the Reds is a tricky game against two-time defending MLS champions Houston. The Dynamo have been terribly inconsistent this year, but seem to be coming on as of late. Last year, Toronto bunkered down for 90 minutes and somehow escaped with a draw in its only trip to Houston. It was likely the ugliest game that TFC played in 2007, which is saying something. It will be interesting to see how far the Reds have come.
- The Houston game was moved from Saturday to Sunday to accommodate a scheduling conflict. It will be shown on tape delay on The Score.
- Someone compared me to Hunter S. Thompson on Soccer by Ives this week (Ok, they said I was obviously “a fan,” but I’m taking it as a compliment. I was also called “insightful” on Champions Soccer Radio Network’s Around the League in 90 Minutes. So there.
- Former Newcastle player Alex Francis is on trial with TFC.
- Several TFC players featured internationally last week, including Guevara, Robinson and Edu. Greg Sutton and Jimmy Brennan will be on Canada’s roster as it takes on Panama tomorrow in Florida.