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  • 2011 TFC season review - Part II: What went wrong


    Yesterday we took the positive approach to Toronto FC’s season. Today, we go a little more cynical. Below the jump, the five reasons why Reds’ fans may want to jump off the nearest high building.


    1 – The four in the 4-3-3

    It’s been a broken record since day one of the franchise. With the possible exception of parts of 2010 the Reds have been a club where defending is a suggestion, rather than a core component of their make-up.

    So, when Adrian Cann’s knee blew up in training and Dicoy Williams’ knee went kaboom at the Gold Cup a couple weeks later TFC was left to grasp at straws in the centre of the back-line. The straws had names: Andy Iro and Ty Harden mostly. They also had serious holes in their game.

    Allowing a league high 59 goals on the year holes. We’ve beaten the point to death, but it needs to be repeated once more.

    This must be fixed.

    2 – Late game disasters.

    Former head coach Preki may have been a miserable SOB, but he did do one good thing for the Reds. He stopped the 80 plus minute breakdowns that have bedevilled this club since day one.

    Unfortunately, it was a one year fix. The Dutch don’t have a solution for choking apparently.

    Consider if TFC had held onto the 2-0 lead it had against Chicago, and the 1-0 leads it had against both New York and San Jose (both equalizing goals coming after the 85th minute) at home then they finish with a far more respectful 39 points. It still wouldn’t be enough for the playoffs, but it would have meant a playoff race.

    In 2011, considering how low expectations were going in, might have been enough for the average TFC fan.

    3 – Loan uncertainty

    It’s a bit unfair to point to two of the better stories of the year – Richard Eckersley and Joao Plata – and suggest that they are negatives, but the desperate need many TFC fans feel for the club to work out a full-time move to Toronto illustrates how thin the talent is.

    What happens if they can’t get the two back (in Plata’s case that’s unlikely, in Eckersley’s it’s possible)? Then there are two serious holes to fill and a year has been spent using a Band-Aid. In MLs loan players should really be used to fill specific needs on clubs looking to make a deep run towards a championship. Providing core components on rebuilding sides are less desirable.

    Hopefully, both will be back. However, the lack of certainty is a major cause for concern for TFC fans.

    4 – 2-2-5

    If you think the senior team struggled, then you weren’t paying attention to the reserves and its two win season. The second choice Reds didn’t find a single win until the leaves were turning colours on the trees and 15 goals allowed in nine games illustrated that the reserves have some of the same issues that the first team does.

    However, the biggest problem the lack of production from the reserves illustrates is the major depth issue TFC faces. Simply put, the TFC reserves were struggling because many players that should have been getting reserve minutes were forced into first team action.

    Whereas top MLS teams go 17-18 players deep, TFC is lucky to get to 11. Actually, the Reds are probably 2-3 spots short of having top MLS skill at every position and they don’t go two team at any position with the exception of goalkeeper.

    Fixing the depth issue is likely a 2013 goal, but the Reds need to be closer to the pack in 2012 if the playoffs are the target.

    5 – Who are ya?

    At the end of 2007 TFC fans famously invaded the pitch to celebrate the return of top flight soccer to the city. It was a yearlong celebration.

    The party is over. Although there were games when the vibe was briefly back, full houses at BMO are the exception now, not the norm. Even the supporter’s sections were a little less...something in 2011.

    The club’s not going anywhere. It’s highly unlikely that the apathy that is forming amongst some will reach the level of a Dallas or Columbus. However, a little magic needs to return or the club could become an afterthought in this market. Toronto is a big city with big city tastes. TFC was an exception to that rule and it’s never been completely obvious as to why the Reds got a pass.

    But, it is clear that the pass is eroding. Those that battled for the acceptance of this sport for years prior to TFC don’t want to see that. And, they are putting their trust in TFC management to make sure it doesn’t happen.

    In truth 2011 was always going to be a bridge year – a time for the wounds of the Mo Johnston era to heal and to allow TFC fans to regroup. It’s 2012 and beyond that were the focus.

    The free pass year is done. Now, it’s time for the club’s second act to begin.

    Five more years like the last will not be tolerated.

    Tomorrow we look at the biggest mistake TFC made in 2011.

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