After all of the wheeling and dealing in the off-season by G.M. Tim Bezbatchenko and lots of positive reinforcement from smooth talking coach Greg Vanney crunch time is almost upon us.Here in balmy Bradenton with the game time temperature at 21 degrees centigrade, the final pre-season game against the Costa Rican u-23 team is about to get under way.
The starting eleven today could be the starters next week in Vancouver: Joe Bendik, Warren Creavalle, Steven Caldwell, Damien Perquis, Justin Morrow, Michael Bradley, Benoit Cheyou, Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio, Robbie Findley, Jozy Altidore
Toronto kicked off from left to right into a stiff breeze, gaining a corner in the 1st minute. Giovinco moved to take it and throughout the game he was on all the dead ball situations. The first 10 minutes were pretty sloppy by both sides each making turnovers for each other.
Both Creavalle and Findley were guilty of not putting in decent cross balls from good positions. But in the 10th minute a great set -up between Cheyrou and Findley enabled Giovinco to hit a rocket from 25 yards leaving the goalie grasping at thin air.
This young man will score his share of goals in MLS this year but will have to do better on penalties IF he intends to take them for the complete season.His half hearted stutter step penalty miss later in the 1st half was not a thing of beauty by any stretch of the imagination.
Cheyrou had to be substituted not long after going in hard and committing a foul on the young Costa Rican .Up until this time he looked very skillful AND tough making him a good addition to the squad definitely an upgrade.
Looking through my notes on the first half the one name hardly mentioned is Altidore no running off the ball, static for the most part definitely no shots to talk about. Findley is mentioned more for his missed opportunities and over hit crosses although he was getting into positions to actually do this-- positive I guess.
Bradley,Osorio,Cheyou( Collen Warner) made a solid middle not over extended by the light weight Costa Rican players (bigger tests to come for sure). This could also apply to the back line who for the most part had an easy 1st half.
The second half starts as the 1st ended with more sloppy play by both teams.
It took until the 63rd minute for a delightful run from Giovinco to liven up the proceedings with the back post finish from Altidore 2-0 Toronto.
Unfortunately, the problems from last year in regard to crosses into the box have not gone away. From an inswinging corner later in the half Bendik is rooted to his line while the defenders all leave the ball to give an easy tap in at the back post 2-1.Back to the drawing board with this problem.
Eriq Zavaleta, Luke Moore, Jackson and Ashtone Morgan all came on in the closing stages to see out the last 15 minutes or so.
I could bore you some more with who passed to who and who gave the ball away. But nothing else of note happens according to my observations leaving us with more questions than answers for us to ponder leading up to the season opener in Vancouver next week.
Just as a footnote to this story;
Not long after arriving in Florida we were happy to discover our car under the caked on salt and road debris after going thru the car wash.
Lev Yashin signing off and hoping that you all back home in Toronto stay warm and well.