Joe Bendik. Had a decent if unspectacular night. - Al Messerschmidt
Goals! and a win! After a first half as dodgy as the stream, an impressive second half saw TFC stroll to a 3-0 win. Sighs of relief all round.
Let's all go to Orlando for pre-season they said, the weather will be lovely they said. That didn't really work today as wind and rain wreaked havoc on MLS' cameras, microphones and all that leaving the first 25 minutes or so an audioless feed from a single camera down at one end of the pitch. Eventually the sound kicked in, and in the second half we even got close to professional looking with a second angle, and replays that worked most of the time.
I shouldn't complain, we're lucky to have anything etc etc, but it's a very handy metaphor for the game really, as far as TFC are concerned. The first half was a bit of a nightmare, not helped by playing into the wind. Orlando were all over TFC, creating chances and finding space down both wings time and time again to get crosses in. They got the ball in the net once, but it was ruled out for offside, and could and should have scored at least once, if not twice. Ugly stuff.
Derrick Bassi at left back looked pretty hopeless, Richard Eckersley over on the right wasn't much better defensively, and Danny Califf and Darren O'Dea weren't quick enough to help out, though they generally did a good job of dealing with crosses and anything coming through the middle. Nothing was really happening in midfield, as very few passes were strung together and there was a lot of passing back to Joe Bendik. Up front, Justin Braun was very busy, but very ineffective, some awful touches bringing slightly positive moves to crashing halts, and Nicolas Cabrera again didn't really show much, either on the wing, or when pushed up front.
Along with the improved stream, TFC were much better in the 2nd. A lot of subs to start it off made a difference. Agbossoumonde, on for Califf, had the speed to get over to the right to cover for Eckersley when he went missing. Eckersley himself managed to get forward quite a bit down the right wing, he wasn't all that effective, but it was good to see in a nostalgic for 2011 kind of way.
The first goal came from good work from Kyle Bekker and Luis Silva, something we'll hopefully be able to say a lot this year. Bekker's pressing caused a turnover and Silva knocked the ball through the defence for Taylor Morgan to run onto, beat a tackle, avoid the temptation to go down, round the goalie and again avoid the temptation to go down before calmly slotting it home. A delightfully calm and skilled bit of finishing that will surely improve his chances of staying with the club.
After that, it was more or less all TFC as the improved weather conditions enabled the second half team to look much better than the first. The second goal came from a penalty after a flick on to nobody was conveniently handballed. Surprising enough, up stepped Terry F. Dunfield and he smashed it down the middle after the goalie dived out the way. There immediately followed some handbags that saw Orlando reduced to ten men after Adama Mbengue punched Kyle Bekker who did well to just calmly walk away and not get involved. After that it was one way traffic, and the 3rd goal was a lovely bit of individual skill from Jonathan Osorio, who seems by far the best of the 'academy kids', dribbling around one player and knocking a low shot in from just outside the box.
So there it is, an honest to goodness TFC win, Ryan Nelsen's first as a head coach, a full 141 days after the last, fittingly enough another 3-0 win against a weaker opponent, CD Aguila back in September. TFC now sit second in the table and play Philadelphia Union on Saturday to close out the group stage, though really none of that matters. All in all, I doubt tonight's performance was enough to be giving Adrian Heath a sleepless and wistful night thinking of what might have been, yes we scored 3 goals, but there's still some very obvious holes and concerns that can't be ignored. We did see some glimpses of potential, some players making a case for themselves, and some of them not so much. Three players were let go after the last game, at the very least Morgan and Osorio have shown that they don't deserve that fate yet.