The starting eleven that Toronto FC fielded against the Montreal Impact indicated that they wanted to win the Voyageurs Cup, the performance said otherwise. Despite playing a very similar squad to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew on the weekend, Toronto FC did little to make the Impact worry that they would not win the tie on away goals. When they finally did press forward it was too little, and far too late.
A goal from Felipe would only kill more time in a match that was already essentially over, a 1-0 or 0-0 scoreline hardly making a difference for Montreal. They already had the advantage on away goals after Justin Mapp's equalizer in Toronto. But it put the nail in a Toronto FC coffin that the occupants had already kindly put a lid over.
What was most concerning in this match was that it was not a particularly inspired performance from the Impact. In fact, they did not play much better than they did at BMO Field. But just as they have all season, Toronto FC lost another blatant invitation in the mail as they failed to make the Impact pay. The club seems to only be able to feed off inspired play from their opponent, not generate their own.
Of all the matches that Michael Bradley has been away, this may have been the worst for the midfield that he has left behind. The centre of the park was where things broke down for Toronto on this night, as very little ultimately translated into the final third despite having 51.1 per cent possession.
After some impressive flashes early on in the season, Kyle Bekker has returned to mediocrity. If these sort of performances continue it is unlikely that he will see much more time on the field this season, especially in a starting role. Both Jeremy Hall and Daniel Lovitz also had fairly forgettable performances. Alvaro Rey was the notable exception, one of the only Toronto players who actually ran in a forward direction in this match.
With Jermain Defoe comes positive and negatives. Once again Defoe was able to create a number of chances with little service, and was the most threatening Toronto player on the night as has come to be expected. But his brilliance is propping the club up far too much at the moment, providing a temporary fix for a machine that is cracked and broken. He can also be isolated, as Montreal did on this occasion after clearly seeing that he was the only real threat in red on the pitch.
The one part of the machine that has been working properly this season did so once again tonight, and was likely the lone positive for the club. Doneil Henry is returning to form, and probably had his best defensive game in recent memory. He frustrated Marco Di Vaio and Justin Mapp on several occasions. His timing was also perfect in the box on this night. The other three: Mark Bloom, Steven Caldwell and Justin Morrow were decent, but evidently did not get much support up the pitch.
For the second straight match Toronto FC's starters did not seem engaged until they got reinforcements from the bench. Jonathan Osorio hit the post, and had one of the most positive flashes he has had all season. But the fact that in two straight weeks the starting eleven have come slowly out of the gates is yet another concern.
Some will argue that it is a positive that Toronto no longer have to play matches outside of the MLS calendar, and to some degree this is true. But none can argue that this match is a positive for the future of this team. With what was essentially their best roster they were beaten by a sub-par club playing a sub-par game.