Even after a night's rest and looking at the lowlights (I refuse to call them highlights) of the match and putting my logical hat on, there's not much that I feel like saying about last night's game that doesn't involve bitterness and sarcasm. I'm rarely one for in depth analysis - although I give it a go from time to time - but as pretty much the entire game was horrifically bad I'm tempted to leave it at that. Note: if you didn't watch the game, don't. Seriously, save yourself the expenditure of emotion - trust me when I say it's not worth your time.
Yesterday was a tough day for TFC folk. With the fanbase still adjusting to losing Luis Silva and Danny Califf in recent days, Saturday brought the shocking news - literally an hour before the game started, pretty much as soon as the teamsheets had been handed in and reported on twitter - that Darren O'Dea had flown back to Toronto awaiting the finalization of a transfer to another team. Playing Sporting KC is always a daunting prospect - to do it without the team captain and one of their more experienced defenders? Recipe for disaster.
And a disaster it was. With a less than optimal lineup on the pitch, Toronto would only hang on to some sense of respectability for the first 20 minutes before Soony Saad would step up and blast a rocket to the near post past Joe Bendik. Please note that Saad hadn't scored a goal in almost two years - nothing like a game against TFC to cure what ails you! Oh and this game gave SKC their first clean sheet since May - we've got such a giving team, don't we?
The second half again featured Saad who would score his second goal - seriously, the guy can't score for almost two years and gets a brace against Toronto - SIGH. And then a lovely bit of passing by SKC saw Claudio Bieler easily slot one past Bendik with less than 20 minutes to go in the game.
That was one of the things that stuck out the entire match - how easily SKC passed the ball around and found space in which to operate. The defense was so woeful that SKC honestly looked like Barca throughout much of the game. I know that they're a good team - but that good? No, only playing TFC makes you look that good. And only playing TFC with Ryan Richter on the the pitch makes you look that good.
Richter playing last night was possibly the worst initial effect of O'Dea's departure. What had been the expected back four of Eckersley, Caldwell, Agbossoumonde and O'Dea - decent experience, some possibilities on the flanks, recent excellent play by Caldwell - was dashed without the former captain. Instead we got to watch Richter get owned by Kamara all night in what had to have been the worst performance by him this season. Never a good choice, he's at least managed to be OK at times. But not last night, oh no - that was what it looks like when someone that is not an MLS starter can't even come close to rising to the occasion.
But it's not all on Richter, the rest of the defense - hell the rest of the team - put in one of their worst performances this season. Ecks took the entire first half to settle into the game; he was so poor at times that Bendik could be seen yelling at him multiple times as SKC continued to get dangerous balls in causing Bendik to have to make several big saves that simply shouldn't have been necessary. While yes, he was far better in the second half both positionally and going forward, that's only because he was so inadequate the first.
The rest of the team? Well they were mostly invisible weren't they? Even Laba (the best of a bad bunch) didn't play up to his usual level and was subbed off (like Earnshaw) to save his legs for Wednesday's match against Chivas. For a few minutes in the first half it looked as though Convey, Earnshaw and Brockie might be working together well and the high pressure was going to result in a goal. But that was short-lived as the only danger - from a nice play between the three of them - was fairly easily snuffed out by Jimmy Neilsen in the 18th minute. Jeremy Brockie had not one, but two chances to get it past Neilsen but instead fired it straight at the SKC keeper both times. After that was when SKC started to turn on the jets and well, the rest is ugly, ugly history.
One other note - Darel Russell is not a defender. No matter what it says on his resume he is not a defender. I don't know how many times I can say this. I appreciate his grit in the midfield (even though he's a walking yellow card) and clearly that's where he is at his best. But put him on defense? Awful - he has literally no interest in defending, is positionally poor and doesn't pay attention. I would have happily seen Mark Bloom come in rather than chance Russell back there.
I was going to try to find some positives - Bendik keeping the game "close", Ecks first game back, Brockie, Convey and Earnshaw the first few minutes - but those are barely in the positive column. The real positive? No one got injured, it wasn't a massive slaughter and they've got another game on Wednesday to prove; well to prove that they're not just a bunch of pylons - that regardless of their mental state (obviously fragile) that they can bounce back and actually play some decent football.
We all knew that this season was going to be ugly, we've been lucky so far in that we hadn't been subjected to this level of ugliness. The logical side of me understands that they're clearing cap space, freeing international slots and so forth in preparation for the always rumoured 3 or 4 more players. And I get that this is necessary. It is; nothing will be able to change with this team if they're weighed down by bloated contracts for players that aren't at the top of their game, that hamper building a solid core going forward. And while I understand all of that, it doesn't it make it any easier when you watch games like last night's. They always say that it has to get worse before it can get better - better gear yourselves up folks cause it could get a lot worse.