Well, after all the excitement of Toronto FC's afternoon in the twitterverse (DP signings, Winter firings, Owen Hargreaves and Ruud Gullit), and the 2 DP signings that actually happened, the game against Vancouver Whitecaps was always going to struggle to entertain, and it did. TFC got the win though which is all that really matters, 3 points lifting them away from the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and who knows, given the reinforcements that are coming maybe those 3 points will end up being crucial in some way at the end of the season.
More importantly though, what we did we learn for Saturday's Voyageurs Cup game? We learnt that both teams, especially Vancouver, agree that it IS more important, and because of the changes made with that game in mind, that's about all we know as this was very much 2 B teams going at it.
Vancouver rested Joe Cannon, Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat, Terry Dunfield, Camilo Sanvezzo, Eric Hassli and others, while TFC rested Maicon Santos and chose not to bring back any of their injured players. B-team-tastic, but did the game reflect those priorities? Yes dear reader, yes it did, I'll try to wring a full article out of it after the jump
The first half was a desperately poor half of football, quite possibly the worst seen at BMO this season (that Philadelphia Union 6-2 game was terrible, but i'm sure at least the Union were happy with it). Vancouver had more possesion but never, ever looked like doing anything with it. TFC were more dangerous, and had a few good moves but without a proper Centre Forward, it all came to nought. With Alan Gordon stil not ready and Maicon Santos rested, the forward line was Nick Sooolsma, Joao Plata, and in the middle, Javier Martina. Yet TFC continued with their regular game plan of atttacking down the wings and throwing in crosses that Martina was never going to win. The best chances of the half came to Mikael Yourassowsky, with balls half cleared to the edge of the area where he proceeded to shoot wide very very badly. The half time timbits game was a welcome burst of entertainment.
Obviously at some point in the first half, Whitecaps coach Tom Soehn realised TFC are nothing special and thought 'we can win this' as he brought Eric Hassli on to start the second half and introduced Camilo quite early in the second as well. Hassli's introduction instantly made Vancouver all of a sudden resemble a dangerous side and they took the game to Toronto at the start. But it was Toronto who actually managed to score. Through the whole game, they lacked any kind of prescence up front and never looked like scoring, so the only way it was going to happen was on a penalty kick, and it was a challenge on Nick Soolsma when he was right at the edge of the box and going nowhere that caused it.
It was Soolsma who took the penalty and confidently scored, but Joao Plata had massively encroached (seriously he was at least 5 yards in the box) and it had to be taken again. Soolsma went the other way and scored again. 1-0 and really, there weren't many scoring opportunties for either side after that.
For TFC, I'm sure Maicon Santos will be back for Saturday's game, and there'll probably be at least one of Tony Tchani and Julian De Guzman back in midfield as well, which would be good as Gianluca Zavarise was invisible and Yourassowsky was just plain bad. The most interesting experiment was the move of Richard Eckersley to Centre Back, enabling Winter to give Doneil Henry a break. Eckersley revealed post game that he played a year for Man Utd reserves at Centre Back so is quite comfortable there, so we may see that continue on Saturday. Dan Gargan was Eckersley's replacement at Right Back, and he did as well as could be expected, defending relatively solidly, without the offensive contributions the mancunian ginger usually brings.
Vancouver has a lot of good players to bring back for Saturday, so should be an entirely different team than what we saw today. Are any of us any the wiser about what to expect when the important game comes around? Not really, but for tonight at least that doesn't matter. TFC have got 3 points, are temporarily away from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and have proven that our B team can beat Vancouver's B team. Most importantly, with the two new signings ready to go once the transfer window opens, TFC have hope, a bit of a buzz, and maybe juts maybe, a chance at competing and making sure these 3 points are crucial when the end of the season comes around. Was it entertaining? Hell no. Could it be important? Maybe, and it's nice to have that maybe back, if only for a short time.