There are many things that I don't understand. Stephen Hawking's Theory of Everything is hard to figure out in certain places. The fact that my wife's purses, which to me appear to be in good working order, seem to "need" to be replaced every month leaves me perplexed. And don't even get me started on issues surrounding Toronto FC. If you did, these would be my notes on the weekend.
Where are all the people?
Saturday's announced attendance was 19,652 leaving many fans to question whether TFC has started counting people within a 20 km radius of BMO or the actual fans in their seats. Most likely, TFC is counting tickets distributed. In any event, it appears that what we saw this weekend in terms of empty seats is exactly what any season ticket holder will tell you. If you can't get to a game, you can't re-sell or even give away your ticket. Barring a massive price drop this season, it would appear that MLSE has effectively cooked the golden goose.
Hassli NOT Koevermans Replacement
So sayeth Paul Mariner, as reported by Kurtis Larson of the Toronto Sun. Mariner expects Danny Koevermans to return in 2013, which is great. However, this means one of two things. Either Eric Hassli's contract will not be picked up for 2013 and would thus make the move to acquire a "Rental" in a season with no playoff hope at the price of a 1st Round MLS Superdraft pick one of the dumbest moves ever made by a TFC Manager. Or Hassli and Koevermans will be our forwards next year. With Torsten Frings still under contract through next season, ladies and gentlemen, barring a retirement, those are your 3 Designated Players. Apparently, there is no need for a DP Centerback because the team has decided to use its 3 available slots on these positions.
Mariner suggested in post-game interviews that they could have brought in many players but they weren't in a panic mode, they were looking for long term solutions. If panic isn't being experienced in TFCland, why give up a 1st round draft pick for a 2nd DP striker in the days after Koevermans was injured?
Frings-Koevermans Importance Theory
While many reporters rush to praise the turnaround, many fans are being cautious and wonder if the turnaround was due to a combination of a healthy Koevermans and Frings returning to form. To back this theory, one can look at Winter's record of 3-2-2 in May of this year which does include games in the CONCACAF Champions League. Or they can look at Winter's record of 8-3-5 in all matches in 2011 after the two men arrived (3-2-5 over last 10 MLS games). Time will tell.
Such was Paul Mariner's response when asked on Nigel Reed's The Soccer Show, to comment on Don Garber's assertion at the MLS All Star game that the league did not nix the Olof Mellberg deal. Garber added that in fact it was TFC's decision that the deal did not make financial sense for them. Sorry Paul but with this team's history of contractual foul-ups, from DeRo and Celtic to Plata being 'still with the club' to the apparently unknown transfer fee that the club paid to get him, we deserve a truthful explanation.
Ok, One Comment
One who was offering comments was Ryan Johnson. Prior to yesterday's game, Ryan spoke of the fact that Mariner's system is less complex and that is behind their results. "Paul took the pressure off us when he came in. He changed the system. He just made it simple for everybody."
While complexity might explain the difference between the 1-9-0 and 4-3-4 records under both coaches this season, it doesn't explain why the end of 2011 and the CCL run were so positive for the team. The complexity didn't change between 2011 and 2012. Neither did many of the players. What really happened? Going back to the Frings and Koevermans Importance Theory, did their injuries and lack of form contribute to the poor start in 2012? Did groups start taking sides? Or were you simply out of gas at the beginning given LA and Mexico? Complexity seems like an explanation that doesn't fit the facts.
Possession is 9/10ths of Everything
Houston scored the game winning goal off a set piece in the 45th minute yesterday. Mariner can lament a missed marking assignment in the post game but at 65% possession at the time of game winning goal, one might suggest that Houston was more likely to capitalize on one of its many chances. They were in a better position to score because they held more of the ball. In the 11 MLS Games under Mariner, the team has only ever held the possession advantage once.
Speaking of CONCACAF, not many know that the format for the group stage has changed. TFC is now in a 3 team pool with CD Aguila and Santos Laguna. They have to win the pool to move on.
On the Plus Side
While the Designated Player Centerback might not be en route, Mariner did hint that a deal might be completed by the end of the weekend. As long as it doesn't involve trading Superdraft picks, who knows, it might be a good thing.