After all the "this is a bit boring but isn't the lack of stuff happening a refreshing change? It's good for the club" comments slowly started to turn into mild consternation that all this nothing might not actually be a good thing if we didn't actually start playing somebody sometime soon, lo and behold we got a game on Friday night.
Toronto FC took on the local University of South Florida and came away with a satisfying sounding 5-1 win. It wasn't streamed anywhere, and twitter updates were just more or less the bare facts of who scored when, for the record, Silva, Silva, Plata, Soolsma and Dunfield all in the first half, and the lineups. They were as follows, and provide most of what little there is to mull over.
First half: Stefan Frei; Doneil Henry, Ty Harden, Miguel Aceval, Ashtone Morgan; Torsten Frings, Terry Dunfield, Luis Silva; Nick Soolsma, Ryan Johnson, Joao Plata.
Second half: Milos Kocic; Richard Eckersley, Geovanny Caicedo, Aaron Maund, Elbekay Bouchiba; Matt Stinson, Julian de Guzman, Eric Avila; Reggie Lambe, Danny Koevermans, Jordan Hamilton.
Eckersley and Koevermans being in the second half lineup stops us from drawing any obvious "who's in line for a spot in the starting lineup when the real games start" conclusions. But at least for the first game against L.A where De Guzman and Avila are ineligible, that Frings, Dunfield and Silva midfield looks very probable. The only change I could see happening is Ryan Johnson being moved back to the AM spot instead of Silva. Silva's style of play is definitely more suited to the position than Johnson's and what little reports there are coming out of training suggest he is looking impressive. Aside from experience, Johnson's additional goal scoring threat would probably be the main reason he might get the nod ahead of Silva (I expect Avila to be the regular starter in games he's eligible for) so 2 goals along with 2 assists from the rookie will definitely help his chances there.
The other noticeable and strange thing from both those lineups is the absence of triallists. Kevin Huezo, Moises Orozco, and the remaining unsigned draft picks Michael Green and Efrain Burgos Jr were nowhere to be seen. Of all the academy kids brought down to camp, only Jordan Hamilton made an appearance. Hopefully there'll be other games scheduled where all the unsigned players can be given a chance to impress before cuts are made.
One last curiosity, Elbekay Bouchiba. A) he does exist! that's nice. B) Left Back? interesting, I've always had him pegged as a midfielder, though through his injury wrecked first season here, debate seemed to be about whether he was more an AM or a DM, but i don't remember LB ever coming up as an option. It's good to see there is another option there, but at the same time, it does expose how flimsy the coverage behind Ashtone Morgan is should he get injured or not live up to expectations.
So what have we learnt? Especially given that we couldn't watch the game, pretty much nothing, but at least there's actually games to talk about now.
The biggest news of the night was the return of Eddie Johnson to MLS. Picked up by Montreal who used their first place in the allocation order, it was made clear that it wasn't for the purposes of him joining the Impact attack. Unlike the Impact's bungled Brian Ching hostage negotiations, this one ended quickly, and productively for Montreal as they ended up with Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle from the Seattle Sounders. Neither of them were full on first team players for Seattle, but both did well with limited minutes and stand a very good chance of becoming regular players in Montreal, so definitely a good deal for them. For Seattle? Well it's a big gamble they've taken that a guy whose career has been stuck in neutral for the last 4 years can regain the form he showed when he was last in MLS.