It was one year ago today that Toronto FC finally gave its fans their wish and parted ways with Mo Johnston. Mo was the clubs first coach before he moved up stairs to continue ruining the club as Director of Soccer. Last September 14th he was let go by the club along with his coach Preki. To this day Mo is still one of the more polarizing figures in the clubs history and is widely blamed for the 5 years of struggles that Toronto FC have faced since joining the MLS. So on this, the anniversary of his firing it was only fitting that TFC should put up one of its worst performances ever, and that is saying something.
So with most TFC fans spending the day remembering Mo Johnston and all that he did to us as fans the game seemed to sneak up on a lot of people. The talk of the week leading up to this match was that maybe TFC would get to take on a sort of B team from Pumas similar to the lineup they put out against Dallas. Problem with that notion was that if Pumas had any intention of getting out of this group, winning this game was basically going to be a must. So when the lineup news came down it should not have been all that shocking to see that Pumas had named a very strong lineup which included only 1 player who started against FC Dallas in that defeat. It was clear that Pumas were going for the win in this one.
If it was clear that Pumas wanted to win when we got the team news it was only a few minutes in to the match before it became clear that TFC did not want to win this game. To be fair TFC did create two good chances early in the game but both were turned away by good saves from the Pumas keeper and then it was only a matter of time before the standard issues with the back four began to show. Every time Pumas came forward it seemed that a TFC defender made a poor tackle, failed to hold the line, or simply just let his man carry the ball past him. Their attempts at playing defence were almost comical as on several occasions Harden and Iro were both guilty of being unwilling to put a shoulder on their man and show some commitment in their challenges. On top of being unwilling to pay the price to try and make stops the TFC back four were doing a terrible job of holding a line across the back. For at least two of the goals one of Toronto's defenders was guilty of failing to push up with the other three allowing the attackers to get in behind them with ease.
Speaking of the goals they came fast and furious in the first half for Pumas. With Martin Bravo leading their line they netted 4 in the first half, 3 of which came from Bravo. Their fourth goal came from Efrain Velarde and was assisted by Bravo who seemed to be be having his way with Andy Iro every time the ball was in Toronto's half. I think it would be harsh to blame Milan Kocic for any of the Pumas goals but the problem is that when you are playing a better team you are always going to need your keeper to come up with a couple of key saves and they were just not there in the first half. Pumas got those key saves early in the first half from their keeper and that allowed them to settle in to the game and really take over.
The second half of this game is hardly even worth talking about. For large portions neither team looked all that interested in doing anything to change the score line but every now and then Pumas came forward and created another good chance. They were much less clinical in the second half and that coupled with a few quality saves from the TFC keeper meant that the score remained at 4-0 until full time. That final score is actually quite flattering for TFC considering the fact that they were completely outplayed all over the field and gave up more then enough good chances for Pumas to have reached double figures. On the whole it was one of the worst TFC performances I have seen in a very long time as there was just a complete lack of passion and effort from many of the players.
It is hard to know what else to say about a match like this when TFC was just so terrible. I feel as a supporter that this kind of a showing from the team is basically a slap in the face. We give our time and money to back this club and then in the only competition where they still stand a chance of making some sort of impact they put out a completely listless performance. I could go on all night with words to describe how bad the performance was as things like gutless, embarrassing, and uninspired spring to mind right away.
The thing is that now TFC have to move forward very quickly. In the other game of the night FC Dallas and Tauro ended up with a 1-1 draw. The means that with some help Toronto could still get out of this group with 2 wins in the last 3 matches. The table now looks like:
FC Dallas: 7 points
Pumas: 4 points
Toronto FC: 3 points
Tauro: 2 points
Next up in the CCL for Toronto is a home match against Tauro on September 20th. This game is now a must win for TFC and the more goals they win by the better as goal difference could still come in to play. Will have to shake this result off really fast and be much better going forward on the CCL will be another lost cause.