Well that was the complete opposite of fun. Did you watch? If you were like many who chose this weekend to go away or just not watch well then I'm envious. Those of us that chose to torture ourselves were not rewarded with anything that resembled a good game of footy by Toronto.
Instead of coming into Columbus looking to build off of several solid games of late and good second half against Seattle last weekend, Toronto dug into their old bag of tricks and seemingly forgot everything they'd learned over the past month or two. Never the most free-flowing style of team Toronto looked disjointed throughout the entire game, showing neither patience or the inclination to pass the ball or build the play from the back.
There were a couple changes to the lineup for last night's debacle - neither of which were really a surprise. Making his first MLS start was Alvaro Rey who joined the starting XI as a welcome (to most) replacement for Reggie Lambe. Joining him in his first start since returning from injury was Robert Earnshaw who had been a spark (although still no goals) when he was subbed on during the game against Seattle.
The early moments of the game were deceptive in that it looked as though Toronto had some plan to press high and harry Columbus's defense. That lasted for all of about 5 minutes as the Crew took firm control of the game, easily moving the ball and dispossessing any attempts by Toronto to keep the ball. And on this night there would be no resurgent TFC in the second half, no sign that they were looking to one another to step it up and take the game from the Crew
The first goal was a nightmare display by the defense - Doneil Henry didn't clear a cross into the area and Bernardo Anor was able to blast a shot at Joe Bendik who made a huge save. However instead of clearing the ball out the entire defense froze and ball watched as Frederico Higuain made no mistake in putting the ball past Bendik.
The second goal - again by Higuain - was an illustration of what was a troubling trend throughout the game. Higuain was able to create space for himself time and time again, moving all over the pitch as though he had a bubble around him. This time he came charging down stopped outside of the area and instead of being challenged by either of the Toronto CBs (or anyone) they gave him more space and then he sent that lovely - it was a gorgeous goal, you have to admire it - chip sailing over Bendik.
Positives? Joe Bendik - really that's it. If not for Bendik time and again making timely reaction saves, throwing himself across the net and being in the right place many times the score would have been much, much worse.
Negatives? The rest of the team. Really, there is nothing laudatory to say about any of them. I normally can find lots of good things to say about Matias Laba and Jonathan Osorio - but not last night. Laba rarely sent a good pass and looked off a step all night long (as did the entire team). Osorio was invisible though energetic, Bobby Convey and Rey had no impact on the wings and did nothing to provide service to the forwards.
Ashtone Morgan was again the focus of the opposition attack - I'm quite certain that coaches around the league tell their players to go down the left side every game - as Dominic Oduro time and again easily made his way into dangerous areas.
The forwards fared no better as neither Robert Earnshaw or Jeremy Brockie were able to create space for themselves and any crosses that were sent in, went wide of the mark or sailed over their heads. One of the lowlights was Earnshaw yelling at Doneil Henry on one of the few scoring chances by the reds in the first half when Henry had likely the best scoring chance and settled a bouncing ball at his feet and took the shot while Earnshaw had stopped well outside of the area but seemed to think that Henry should have passed the ball to him. You know things are bad when the team is fighting on the field - captain Steven Caldwell had to step in and say a few words to Earnshaw to get the focus back on the game.
As for new Red - he's NOT the messiah folks, please remember that - Maximiliano Urruti, well he was unfortunately subbed on in the second. I say unfortunately because on this night it was clear that the Reds were not going to get their acts together and that Urruti was not going to have an impact when the team was playing so poorly. The rest of the team should shoulder the blame for this one, not Urruti who was playing his first game and had to be wondering exactly what the hell he's gotten himself into and why compatriot Laba thought this was a good place for him to come.
Toronto has a week to put this game behind them. And that's what they must do - yes, they have to review the horror that was those 90+ minutes - but all of their attention needs to be turned to this Saturday and the low hanging fruit that is DC United. If they do anything other than rebound from this (lack of) effort and win - hell I'll take a well played draw - then they've done little if anything to turn this team around. Fingers crossed that this was a one off and not a reversion to earlier days.