Last week, I spoke, at medium-length, about Sexy Results, both in terms of TFC’s play and fixtures around the league.
Since then, Toronto FC jumped to 4th place in the Eastern Conference standings, and talks swirled of a home playoff fixture. I emptied the swear jar, rolled up my coins, and prepared myself for “The ML$E Playoff Ticket Sticker-Shock (2019 Edition)“.
This week, however, we saw that wonderful momentum smash into the brick wall of reality and splinter into a million sad little pieces.
We witnessed the Reds drop the first leg of the Canadian Championship 1-0 to Montreal at Stade Saputo, and continue a very worrying trend (more on that later) of reverse alchemy — Turning three points into one.
As it stands, Toronto FC sit in 6th place in the Eastern Conference: Playoff’s clinched, but looking down the barrel of a one-and-done away tie.
For me, it made this Saturday’s post-game celebratory tweet hit with more of a dull thud then the expected cymbal crash:
It is, of course, not all terrible: a one-goal deficit heading back to Fortress BMO is barely “a hole to climb out from” and that draw against LAFC, the class of the league this year, answered more than a few questions about the state of this team heading into the playoffs.
That’s the best performance Toronto FC have had in MLS since winning MLS Cup in December 2017 & one that playoff opponents notice. A magnificent team performance undone by a moment of crazy defending. Tactically spot on to negate Atuesta thanks to a terrific midfield 3. #tfclive— Kristian Jack (@KristianJack) September 22, 2019
As KJ alludes to in the tweet above: some of those answers aren’t very good.
Being a TFC fan in 2019 has been a massively frustrating endeavour. I’d posit even more so than last year.
2018 was excruciating, but there was a logic to the chaos. The CONCACAF hangover, the dramas in the locker room we only discovered by following a trail of clues (and the massive semi-regular data dumps in the offseason of all offseasons), etc. etc. Ad Naseuem. Ad Infinitum. Rinse. Repeat.
This season has been one replete with “What Ifs?”
Just off the top of my noggin: What if Pozeulo/TAM Wingers/Omar Gonzalez arrived earlier? What if Seba/Bez stayed? What if the injury bug didn’t bite us for the second year in a row?
And the “more on that later”...: What if TFC had won those five draws over the last 8 games?
Orlando, Columbus, The NER, NYCFC, and now LAFC. Five points that coulda, shoulda, woulda been 15. We don’t need to be certified by Mensa to see where we’d be on the table vs. where we now find ourselves.
Last week, I opened up the Pandora’s Box of sharing screen-caps from my myriad sources of TFC discussion, so I’ll let WTR’s resident statistician Martyn Bailey have the floor to close out this depressing topic in his own words:
Question #1 this week:
What is our problem? Why do we keep eking out draws from wins? How do we fix it? Can we fix it with the roster we have, or do we need a rethink and a rebuild?
My second question for WTRland this week involves looking to the future and math. At least one of those things is a subject I generally avoid like the plague. Hasn’t stopped the internet from guessing, though. I’ve collected several of those guesses from friends and colleagues across the gamut of #tfclive, and I was going to share some redacted screen-caps, but then thought better of it, because this column is about the call-and-response, so let’s hear it from you!
What does TFC need to do over the balance of the season to finish strong? What do you define as “finishing strong” (have we done this already)? Can we kiss a home playoff fixture goodbye?
Looking forward (?) to reading all the terrifying scenarios you cook up in the comments. I’d say be gentle, but where is the fun in that?
Winter is coming, let’s heat our homes with the hot takes.
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST:
Not gonna lie, I feel like I’ve been on a run of better form with these last few playlists than TFC have been in actual soccer. Cheers for the shouts from WTRland, as always, keep em’ coming.
Also, I know Liam solo is not Oasis, Tej, but this one’s for you!