A year ago today September 11th 2010, was when TFC lost 1-0 to DC United, a miserable loss that led to the firing of Mo Johnston and Preki. That was when, despite a stingy defence and a strong start to the season, we all knew that it wasn't going to get better and the season was pretty much lost. This year, despite a poor start to the season and a comically bad defence, this game was a good sign that after all the summer trades, things are going in the right direction and there can be genuine hope for the future, even if it's a bit too late to rescue this MLS season.
Of all weekends, I had to miss this game and then my PVR broke down, so I haven't actually been able to see the game at all yet. So there's not going to be a lot of detail in this report, if you care enough to be here reading this, you probably saw the game and thus know more than I do, but oh well, if only for completion's sake, here's some random 'game in six minutes' inspired thoughts, I'll be watching game in an hour tomorrow morning so may have further updates then, but somehow I've managed to get this to over 1000 words anyway.
Firstly let's hope Stefan Frei isn't too badly injured, the fact he was able to come out on crutches and watch the end of the game is a good sign, Milos Kocic did well as an injury replacement earlier on, but I'd definitely rather have Frei out there on Wednesday in Mexico City.
How the hell was a foul not called against Julian de Guzman immediately before he scored? I'm not complaining though, and it was another great long distance goal from the suddenly prolific and newly shaven headed midfielder. He apparently had a great game all round, is this a sign that everyone who said that it was the standard of players around him making him look bad was right? Or is he just finally shaking off nagging injuries. Either way, let's hope it continues, him with Torsten Frings and Eric Avila seems like a very good midfield.
Ryan Johnson, a goal from a really good header over Will Hesmer and in to the far post, as well as having an earlier header hit the bar. I haven't really been convinced by him at Centre Forward so far, but he obviously had a good game here, and with the ability to play a few positions, he looks like he could be a really valuable squad member going forward.
Talking of Johnson's goal, what a cross that was by Joao Plata. Good to see him do something different that just try to cut inside and get a shot off. No idea if that was representative of the whole game or not, but if he can develop a good consistent cross that will just make him much more difficult to defend, and give him more room for when he does decide to dribble.
Good to see Danny Koevermans back, if only for a few minutes, hopefully he'll be fit for the full 90 minutes soon enough to have an impact on our CCL games.
Also good to see Nick Soolsma back and scoring a goal. I'm not sure why he seemed out of favour as he was playing well, whether it was just to give Aron Winter a chance to see what Peri Marosevic can bring at Right Wing with an eye to who to keep next season, or other reasons, but I'm glad he's back. Did he have a good game? Who knows, not me, but at the very least the goal is an important contribution for him.
Four different players scored, which is a very good thing compared to earlier in the season when anyone not named Maicon Santos or Alan Gordon could score for us, and three of them coming before Koevermans even got on the pitch is another good sign, as there was a worrying return to early season form in the 3 games he missed.
Two weeks between games seems to have done all sorts of good things for TFC. Maybe it's the extra rest after a very busy schedule that's caused the improvement, or maybe it's the extra training time acting as a mini preseason giving all the new players a chance to finally get some good practice together. Whichever it is, it makes Aron Winter look good in one of two ways. Either this is us finally getting to see the benefit of the mid season trades he and Paul Mariner made to improve the team, or it shows what an effect he and Bob de Klerk can have over a couple of weeks of being able to practice and concentrate on tactics rather than having a game every three days get in the way. We very clearly still need to upgrade in defence, a dominant Centre Back should be the first order of business this off season, but if we can get that missing piece to go with a better than average MLS midfield and a forward line that has a few legitimate scoring options, well that wouldn't be that bad of a team at all.
I mentioned in my preview that a win would be a great way to finish off the 'rivalry' with the Crew before Montreal comes into the league next year to give us someone to properly hate, and so it proved, especially one as convincing as this. Obviously it doesn't change the fact that they dominated these first 5 years, but it's very good to get that "never beaten them" thing out of the way so we can move on.
Hey, we've let in 51 goals now, in 29 games, thus beating the 2007 expansion Mo Johnston team's record as worst TFC defence ever. Having that happen in a win is much better than having those goals cause yet another defeat. It's not really something to be proud of is it, but hopefully many dynastic years from now we'll look back at this year and some of the defensive shitshowiness and chuckle at just how bad we had to get before we got better.
Oh yeah, the trillium cup. Erm, whoo! I guess.