This is clearly very late, but if only for the sake of completion if nothing else, here's my match report on what was a pretty, pretty bad game from Toronto FC.
It wasn't all bad of course, it's not like Houston were all over TFC by any means, they were generally well organised and played the same tough to beat game they'd been playing with more success previously under Paul Mariner. It just never really got going though did it, aside from Doneil Henry's set piece headers and Quincy Amarikwa's preposterously ambitious and unsurprisingly unsuccessful bicycle kick attempt (reports from Colorado suggest to expect a lot of "preposterously ambitious and unsurprisingly unsuccessful" from Amarikwa), TFC never looked like scoring. Post game interviews put it down to effort and energy that wasn't there after the recent break they had, but really it was all about lack of quality at both ends of the pitch.
Richard Eckersley was his usual self, making heroic last ditch tackles to stop attacks, but at the same time, making mistakes or being overly ambitious (really? You're going to go for a run down the left wing?) which allowed attacks to happen. It'd be harsh to blame him for the 2nd goal, a right back in the middle of what was at that point a 3 man defence as we tried to go for the equaliser, but to just hesitantly drift towards Brad Davis and leave himself in no mans land with old man Brian Ching wide open behind him wasn't the best choice.
The 1st goal was even worse and much more worthy of blame. A corner kick right before half time? That's one you've got to be paying full attention to. Instead Terry Dunfield let Calen Carr wander free at the back post and he nodded in the flick on easily, giving Milos Kocic no chance.
Overall though, the defence wasn't really that bad, it was up front where things were truly meh. Without Danny Koevermans and with Eric Hassli not even on the bench, (unsurprising despite Paul Mariner's public musings that he might play, if he was genuinely a possibility then no way they'd have agreed to let him leave his arrival in Toronto so late.) there was absolutely nothing going on. It was a teamwide issue though, hardly Ryan Johnson and Amarikwa's fault. I've commented a few times on how the number of crosses going down is a good thing, but they were back in a big way yesterday, 30 crosses, 5 of which were successful (3 of which were set pieces) just screams of a lack of ideas and a desperate well let's just throw it up there and see what happens attitude. It's not even as if Johnson and Amarikwa had any kind of aerial advantage against Andre Hainault and Bobby Boswell.
Speaking of Hainault and Boswell, a good indication of both teams' intents can be got from the passing stats, Between them they made 80 successful passes and 13 unsuccessful. Eckersley and Emory you ask? 42 and 22.
It reminded me of when things went wrong under Preki, when injuries forced him to play with O'Brian White and Fuad Ibrahim up front and he didn't really change the teamwide defensive focus to accomodate that. They were hopelessly lost, never had a chance and it was the same today with Johnson and Amarikwa. They're nowhere near good enough as a partnership to thrive in this system. Eric Hassli can't get in the team soon enough.
Ah well, Hassli will be here soon, and surely to whatever footie god you worship there'll be defensive improvements coming soon as well. Adrian Cann can't be that far away you'd hope and the latest rumour to surface is Irish international Darren O'Dea, who's been on loan from Celtic to a bunch of Championship level teams in the last few years and has played a few times for the Republic of Ireland. Not exactly inspiring stuff, but he'd probably be better than what we have right now.
Mariner said he wouldn't make a panic move, whether O'Dea (apparently nicknamed O'Dear in Britain, thanks to Bruce Harding for that one) qualifies as that or not I don't know, but hopefully something happens soon.
Two good things from the game yesterday, in the player introductions, they announced 'number 18: Quincy Amarikwaaaaaaaa', but on the big screen up popped number 18: Nick Soolsma. Brilliant. Also, the singing of Bohemian Rhapsody seems to be catching on, spreading from a small anarchic and nihilistic group of supporters doing things their own way in the middle of 113 (The Yorkies and friends), down to the front rows and the unabashedly enthusiastically supportive U-Sector. It could be heard on and off way over in my seats in 227, as well as on tv. I really hope this does catch on even further and becomes a staple, if only as it's such a ridiculous prospect to be converted into a terrace classic, if TFC fans can pull this off on a consistent basis, well there might finally be something to be proud of at BMO Field.