There were two big standout questions from the 50th episode of Waking The Red Weekly presented by Footy Talks, namely - what’s up with the young guns, and is Chris Armas well and truly in the hot seat?
For Mitchell Tierney, TFC’s young players were much touted by Armas at the start of the season as being crucial to the team’s success, so their absence of late has left fans struggling to join up the dots:
“For me, the thing is, the players who have played his system best have been those young players - and we haven’t seen them for three to four straight weeks now.”
“If you look back at all of the times Toronto FC have picked up results this year: against Leon, they’ve got Singh, Priso, Shaffelburg, and Okello; the other Leon game they’ve got Okello, Shaff and Priso starting; the Vancouver draw – Okello, Singh and Nelson; the Columbus win - Ralph Priso had an amazing game in that; none of them starting against NYCFC, but Shaff came on off the bench and gets a goal.”
“Where are these guys and why aren’t they playing?”
“It’s absolutely baffling. I don’t think young guys should get given opportunities just because we want to play young players, but one: you have to give them an opportunity to make some mistakes and work through them; and two: if they’re performing well, why are you taking them out of the lineup?”
"Where are these guys and why aren't they playing?"@mitchelltierney on the two things Armas pushed upon his arrival: pressing style and young players @WakingtheRed #WTRWeekly #TFCLive pic.twitter.com/TyX5Rxaet4— Footy Talks (@FootyTalksLive) June 29, 2021
The question of whether Armas is in the hot seat divided the hosts. Is 10 games enough to accurately judge him as a manager? And how much consideration should be given to the many mitigating factors surrounding the club?
Mitch: “I think he definitely should be on the hot seat, and I think at this point he’s had a fair enough run to see what he can do with this side.”
“What concerns me though is not just Chris Armas, it’s the fact that this collection of talent should be beating both of these teams [Cincinnati and Nashville] regardless of who’s coaching.”
“Like I don’t think that Chris Armas has shown that he’s a good coach by any means, but I don’t think that he’s a bad enough coach that he’s able to take this team and turn it into something where they’re literally last place in MLS.”
Jeff: “I don’t think so, because of all the intangibles - no BMO, no fans behind him, no fortress at the lake shore. How important that is and whether it’s trumped by the fact that he’s made zero tactical adjustments with the players he has in the situation that he’s in, is an argument that I think Mitch wins.”
“He’s had more than enough time to have incremental improvements regardless of all the things that are stacked against him.”
Mike: “I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand there’s a lot of reasons why this season has been unfair to him. Probably one of the biggest reasons is the lack of designated players on this Toronto FC team. Is that his fault? We don’t know what happened with Jozy Altidore, we don’t know if it was a team thing or an Armas decision.”
“Alejandro Pozuelo, who was healthy for every single game last season, comes down with a couple of different leg injuries. Now we can point the finger at Armas’ training sessions or we can say that that was a freak injury. But if you look at the rest of TFC’s injury report [...] this team has had injuries to really key pieces.”
“So that’s the first point about why Armas isn’t really getting a fair shake because he doesn’t have the full arsenal to work with. And we know in MLS how important designated players are.”
“The second reason is Covid and the fact that it interrupted an already shorter training camp, where players were coming in at different times and as a result it left them with a week to prepare for Champions League games—in a different country—as well as the start of the MLS season. There’s no other Canadian team that had to deal with that.”
“Also they’re playing away from home, and with no supporters. Every game for them is a road match. We know how hard it is in MLS to win games on the road.
But that being said, it’s a mountain that Chris Armas and his staff have to overcome.”
For the full epsiode and for everything TFC - check out this week’s Waking the Red Weekly now, also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify! Kindly like, rate, and subscribe!