Hahahahahaha - Sorry, still giddy from yesterday and the deliciousness of once again denying the Impact a win at BMO (and possibly a playoff spot). We may not have much to look back on as positives for this season but that was close to the best way to finish off a crap 2013. A potential dart to the heart of one of our closest rivals, a goal, a win and a little positivity to send us on our way. *Update: Due to the lateness of this post (we were tired from toasting yet another failed season) our giddyness has now been dimmed by the epic meltdown of the Fire in NY which means MTL is into the playoffs. Sigh.*
However, the fear from such faintly positive endings is that too many (fans and management alike) will hang their hats on this game as some shining
light example of the progress that TFC has made. Don't be blinded by the light (5 points to Gryffindor for getting the musical reference). The glaring holes in TFC's lineup were clearly on display for all to see and a solid defensive game should not erase the obvious from everyone's minds and memories.
And that is that this was by no means a game that TFC should point to and say 'there, that's what we're going to do next year' - because you know, how many missed chances? - Yes, there was some nice defensive work on display as Stephen Caldwell and Doneil Henry both had excellent games. I hope that the past few games and this one in particular are a sign of things to come from Henry for next season and going forward. It was heartening to watch him play a more mature, well positioned game next to Caldwell. I found myself watching his game more than almost anyone else on the pitch so noticeable was the difference.
I'll even give a nod to (likely starter in March?) Mark Bloom for solid work on the right side both defensively but also in getting up the wing and sending in some decent balls - too bad the attacking (and I use that word loosely) portion of TFC still doesn't seem to understand what to do. Which was especially frustrating to watch in the second half when Montreal were clearly on the ropes and had little to offer. The most notable being the play where Dike did some great work to get the ball down the wing only to have Earnshaw and Co. literally jog their way towards the box offering zero help and a colossally wasted chance.
Toronto in any incarnation continues to lack the instinct needed to finish off games - not helped in this regard was the decision to bring in a slew of defensive players - OK, two players but still - as subs in the second half. Might as well of held up a big sign that shouted "we're protecting a slim one goal lead instead of taking the game to them"! Frustrating to say the least. Even when playing the role of spoiler; why not make sure of that? You know how that happens - you score more goals. Ah well...
I know perhaps I should just sit back and enjoy the fact that they won, beat Montreal, kept a clean sheet and such but you know what? I can't. It's been seven long years and ignoring the problem won't make it go away. So while yes, it was lovely to see them win in the last game; to have them marginally better their totals from last season, and to see Earnshaw score, and yes, it was better than the soul sucking alternative of watching them get beat down by our Lower Canadian rivals with a stoppage time goal, it's still not anything to really get excited about.
Good things about the match other than the defensive efforts of Caldwell, Henry and Joe Bendik? There was some intent in the attack - it wasn't for lack of trying (boy do they try - our patience mostly, but they do try), by Bright Dike (in one of his better performances; he'll be good off of the bench next year) , as he continued to crash around the box and make life difficult for the Impact defense. That Jonathan Osorio and Earnshaw (along with Dike) were creating chances - just not finishing them - and that even Kyle Bekker rifled a shot off of the crossbar. Hell, even Caldwell got in on the act with a couple of chances. Again, no finish in any of them.
And that's the ongoing story. Yes, they played well enough against an seemingly under-motivated Montreal team and eked out those points and so forth. And yes, a few things looked like maybe they were coming together, but are these the same players and lineup we'll see in February for training or March for First Kick? Not a chance (although let the Thank You Fans video be a guide to returning players), so it's hard to get too excited over what was another meaningless game for a team that has been going nowhere since May.
So while it was briefly enjoyable to see them win; there wasn't much else in it. Last night's celebrating with friends was about the end to a horrific season; one that we're glad to see the backside of. In fact, in the many hours that we were out I think we talked about TFC for maybe 15 entire minutes. That's how little this win means. They're nice points and all but that's it. Put a cork in 2013, we're done.