"Nobody said it was easy. Nobody said it would be so hard."
Aron Winter could be forgiven if he's got those lyrics running through his head right now. To his credit in his post game interview, he didn't try and sugarcoat things, instead he seemed as stunned as most Toronto FC fans are after that performance, an utterly insipid display that saw TFC lose 3-0 to Seattle. Asked for his initial thoughts, he said simply "it was a bad game, we didn't play well". He lamented how the team seemed afraid to keep the ball and kept playing long ball and how "from the more experienced players on the pitch, I did expect more", and that they really weren't playing like he's telling them to. I haven't seen a post game interview as morose and dispirited as that since Preki's last before his firing last September.
FC Edmonton were very unlucky to lose 3-0 to TFC on Wednesday, they didn't really deserve that, but that's not a consolation TFC can give themselves tonight. They were lucky it was only 3-0, absolutely toothless up front, incapable of keeping the ball whenever they got anywhere close to the final third of the pitch and completely overwhelmed at the back, Stefan Frei made several very good saves to keep it down to 3. It was an even worse performance than the 3-0 loss to D.C United, that game at least had some redeeming moments, and the goals came from mistakes, and being down to 10 men rather than from being outplayed. This was just a very thorough, 90 minute long shitshow.
TFC started with Dan Gargan again at Right Back, a puzzling choice after Richard Eckersley's good game against Edmonton. Eckersley wasn't even on the subs bench, which suggests he may be injured. The other noticeable change was the return of Alen Stevanovic to Left Wing, with Javier Martina back on the right.
TFC didn't start well, again, and it didn't take long for Seattle to take advantage with a move down their right wing in the 9th minute. Left Back Danleigh Borman was out of position and unable to block the cross, Adrian Cann was caught between covering for Borman and playing in the middle and thus did neither, and Dan Gargan completely lost his man, Alvaro Fernandez, who scored with an open header.
TFC continued to struggle through the first half, with only one chance created, Javier Martina running onto a good Alen Stevanovic through ball, but he couldn't shake the defender and had his shot deflected wide. TFC did have possession, but in a similar way to the opening game of the season against Vancouver, they didn't look dangerous with it, and whenever possession was lost, Seattle were very dangerous on the break.
Somehow it was only 1-0 at half time so there was still a bit of hope, and Winter once again wasn't scared of making changes, bringing off Maicon Santos, presumably his captain being one of the more experienced players he expected more from. Mikael Yourassowsky came on, but there was no difference in how the game went, in fact it just got worse.
Stefan Frei had already made two difficult saves when the Sounders scored again just 7 minutes into the second. Julian De Guzman losing the ball in midfield and Fredy Montero releasing Brad Evans into a lot of space to the left of Adrian Cann and put a lovely finish past Frei. De Guzman just had enough time after the goal to pick up yet another yellow card before being subbed in what looked to be another message sent to a senior player, he was replaced by Nathan Sturgis, and again it really didn't change things.
The third goal came from a penalty, a corner came though and hit Yourassowsky on the arm, and Evans scored his second from the spot. Late on, Toronto finally got a couple of shots on target, a Javier Martina header coming the closest to scoring.
Seattle were missing three of their 4 usual starting forwards, and still ran riot, getting 19 shots, 10 of which were on target. Fair play to them, after the week they had, that was a great performance and they looked better than TFC in every way. That's partly a comment on how poorly TFC played, but only partly, it's just as much a comment on the lack of quality in TFC's squad. Even with those players out, they were still able to play Eric Friberg, Nate Jacqua and DP Alvaro Fernandez along with Fredy Montero and two goal scorer Brad Evans. A much better lineup on paper than TFC have ever manged to put out. There are just so many flaws that were exposed yesterday, it's ridiculous, and very depressing. Dan Gargan told MLSSoccer.com "It’s embarrassing. The players feel like shit about it." and Winter's body language in his interview was giving off similar vibes.
I started this report thinking it would be angry and potentially very sweary, but I ended up uninspiredly wallowing in depression and quoting Coldplay. Bloody Coldplay! I may rewatch the game for some signs of positive play, but I think for the sake of my own mental health I probably won't. There was always going to be highs and lows in this season, #preseason2012, a learning process, two steps forward one step back, all that sort of thing, even the most gung ho of supporters of Aron Winter's rebuild know that there'll be games where things just don't work, but that? That was just plain bad. Let's hope that was as bad as the season gets and there aren't even lower lows to be reached.