Well, all in all that wasn't a bad game from Toronto FC. They were genuinely the better team over the course of the game, though held back by all the same problems we're familiar with, a soft goal allowed, and a painful lack of finishing touch up front.
It would be a bit harsh to blame Joe Bendik on Chicago's goal, a slow chip into the box from Dilly Duka was going right to Mike Magee, who for some reason was allowed to drift unmarked between Doneil Henry and Ashtone Morgan (only their top scorer and really only consistent goal threat, nothing to worry about there boys). Magee stretched for the ball, Bendik had to respect that shot, and thus when Magee wasn't able to get a touch on it, Bendik wasn't in position to be be able to stop the ball bouncing lazily into the net.
To their credit, after a pretty flat first few minutes, that goal seemed to wake TFC up a bit, and they equalised shortly after. Bobby Convey's cross was allowed to reach Robert Earnshaw (was Bakary Soumare's dummying of the ball deliberate? If so, terrible decision, if not a comically bad attempt at an interception) and Earnshaw cut inside the first challenge and knocked it home inside the near post.
Sadly he injured himself and was subbed off shortly after for Justin Braun, who went on to have an awful game, all poor touches and bad decisions, none more egregious than in the second half when on a breakaway. Andrew Wiedeman was wide open alongside him only to be ignored as Braun decided to do it himself, in the end putting a respectable shot in that went just wide.
There were other chances for TFC, Richard Eckersley was close -ish, and Alvaro Rey had a couple of good attempts in the first half, the first after a great move that made Janil Anibaba look foolish before a weak shot to the far post was easily saved by Sean Johnson. The second was from space just outside the box and he hammered it past Johnson but against the bar.
Rey's performance was the bright spot of the game for TFC, and he did very well on the right wing in the second half as well. Whereas earlier in the season Hogan Ephraim was often free and screaming, practically jumping up and down, for the ball, on this day TFC did a great job finding Rey in space, showing the benefits of the more skilled Jonathan Osorio in one of the central defensive midfield positions. Rey generally did good things when he got the ball, but sadly his crosses were going to TFC's forwards who were more or less in 'couldn't score in a brothel' mode, and so it ended 1-1.
Now I'm not going to get too excited about Rey just yet, after all as I've said many times before in relation to so many hopeful moments from a wide variety of TFC players, you can't trust a tricky winger, you just can't. He has at least shown that he has the skill to warrant his signing, now it's a question of can he show the consistency to warrant his salary? Reggie Lambe was famously dismissed as a 1 in 6er, if Rey can get that down to 1 in 3 or even 4, then he might well be worth it. We'll see.
The other point of interest was the late sub debut of Bright Dike, who looked very lively , put himself about, knocked some people down and seemed to get involved in a crunching tackle of some kind every time he touched the ball, I was regularly wincing, I can totally see how he's built up a history of injuries, but all in all, not a bad first impression.
So that was the game, a decent performance, an earned point, TFC once again taking points away from a potential playoff team, but not really all that important , as evidenced by a weak crowd. That was announced at over 15,000 which is either some creative counting, or evidence of some brilliant new camouflage technology allowing thousands of the troops to attend unnoticed, one of the two.
That lack of numbers, of sense of occasion or 'magic' brings us to yesterday's biggest talking point. David Miller's letter to MLSE that he posted on facebook spread like wildfire. It wasn't a particularly original or devestating critique, but it's importance came from it's source. An undoubted TFC supporter, who played a huge part in getting the franchise and the stadium started and is probably as big a celebrity fan as TFC have, a respected figure that TFC has always been happy to associate themselves with. This was someone who couldn't be ignored, couldn't be shrugged off as some vocal minority, or a supporters group with an overly inflated sense of entitlement. Rather than a self serving gesture as John Molinaro suggested, publicising his letter was Miller allowing his name and celebrity/notoriety, however you look at him, to get complaints that a lot of regular fans have out there in a way that has got a lot of airplay.
Kurt Larson brought up the topic at Ryan Nelsen's post game press conference (the Sun was never going to let an opportunity to let their readers vent about 'His Blondness' slip away) and sadly Nelsen took a page right out of the 'Get used to it' PR manual. His response, from Larson's game report:
"I guarantee in early January he'll wish he had (those tickets) back," Nelsen responded to Miller's comments. "He's going to look pretty silly to tell you the truth. But that's what fans do. They have a right to do whatever they want. There will be a time pretty soon that whoever decides to do that I hope they get made to pay double to get them back."
Sigh. So there you have it. No acknowledgement of where frustrations might be coming from, just a straight forward bullish response, full or arrogance, and aimed at everybody. Does no-one there understand the situation? Maybe it's unfair for Nelsen, or Payne before him, to have to deal with all the frustration that's accumulated over the years, they're paying for the sins of their predecessors for sure, but surely someone can clue them in, give them some lessons on how to talk to grumpy customers? They should be going out of their way to thank anyone that's still stuck with them.
But no, that's not the TFC way apparently. if you've ever expressed doubts about just what the hell's going on, if you've ever criticised the team, if you've ever just said 'fuck it, i can't be bothered to go to this game' (because that's as far as Miller's gesture went, he's not going to go to the last few games of the season, he hasn't given up his season tickets, he's given up his tickets for the rest of this season.) then Ryan Nelsen has no respect for you, and wants you to have to pay double next year.