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  • Frei, Frings and nine Maicon Santoses


    Okay, okay – five new guys in the line-up, only a couple of practices together, badly outplayed and only lost 1-0. Glass half full for Toronto FC?

    Aron Winter sure thinks so. The TFC boss praised his guys after a grinding match against FC Dallas, saying they created plenty of chances, and were likely a bit unlucky with the referee.

    It looked very different up on the roof.


    (And just a quick moment here to thank BMO Field for being the coldest, windiest place in the entire city of Toronto. On a heavy, hammering heat-wave night like this, it was delicious, windy bliss up on the upper terraces.)

    The plain, simple fact is that – even with Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans making their TFC debuts, FC Dallas is a far better soccer team than Toronto FC. The 1-0 scoreline badly flatters the home side. This was far more a 3-0 Dallas drubbing, where the Bull Boys simply didn’t finish their chances.

    Winter’s right that Toronto had chances too. Most notably, an achingly gorgeous outside lob from Koevermans just before the break, that was only barely turned past the post by an alert, fully-extended Kevin Hartman in the Dallas goal.

    But most of Toronto’s chances were pretty sloppy in their construction. Dallas attacked because they meant to. TFC threatened because the ball just sort of bounced that way.

    Despite Frings clearly and presently taking charge out there, Dallas simply did everything better. Winning the ball, running the ball, passing to open men who consistently had options – and actually developing those options.

    No possession stats were kept this night, but I’m guessing 65% FCD.

    So here’s a bit of a breakdown of the TFC new boys, and how everybody did out there:

    Torsten Frings: Not fully in game shape, and fairly inconsistent on his free kicks. But, as noted, he certainly did take charge out there. On a team where leadership has been woefully absent for literally years, that bodes somewhat well for what’s to come. A shame Julian de Guzman was out of the lineup with a knee bang tonight. I don’t think there’s a lot even Frings can do strapped to a 2011-edition Nathan Sturgess.

    Danny Koevermans: A couple of strong attempts in the first half; nothing much to speak of in the second. Fitness clearly an issue, but he clearly wanted to make an impact tonight. Tiny Joao Plata took most of the ball-carrying load tonight, but was consistently unable to beat any of the many Dallas defenders he tried to blow past one-on-one. Opens the strong possibility the rest of the league is catching on to Plata’s act. I think these two guys need each other now – a lot. They’ll have to link up better than they did tonight.

    Ryan Johnson: Wasn’t asked much, and didn’t make himself that much of an issue. He did vault the fence after the match to high-five half of U-Sector, which should boost his popularity in the south end. Course, a goal would have done the same job, a titch more effectively.

    Andy Iro: Best moment came when he cleared a second-effort scoring chance off the goal-line. Mixed it up in attack, too. Certainly showed some promise … and leadership – although, once again, no one really shone in the TFC back four tonight.

    Eddy Viator: The Guadaloupe defender was signed earlier in the day, and thrown straight into the fire to cover for the yellow-card suspension of Richard Eckersley. Viator was deeply uneven, and suffered some horrible touches on the ball. Fortunately, his worst two gaffes came deep in Dallas territory, where the damage was limited to snuffing out a couple of scoring chances, and who needs those in a 1-0 loss?

    Okay, a bit unfair from me at the end there. But it was risingly uncomfortable tonight watching Dallas simply go about the business of consistently creating, while the Reds were making far too many awkward gaffes. Simple passes to open men that went straight out of bounds, for example. Kind of thing that drives you crazy after a while.

    I’m glad Winter’s optimistic. But this match, like so many this year, just really wasn’t all that enjoyable.

    I find myself yearning for a starting XI of Frei, Frings and nine Maicon Santoses. Probably wouldn’t win a cussed thing, but it would certainly be fun!

    Stay cool in this horrid heat, y’all!


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