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  • School’s back in


    Undefeated on the road, home opener against an expansion team, Dwayne DeRosario and Adrian Serioux making their BMO Field debuts as Toronto FCers, the fans are pumped, the wind is up, and let the … good … times …



    The Seattle Sounders, masterfully prepared by head coach Sigi Schmid, kept the ball on the turf, were not unduly troubled by the swirling, gale-force winds, scored two goals – one lovely, one ugly – and ran out 2-0 winners over a TFC side that is now marching soggily back to the drawing board.

    Some thoughts:

    - Toronto’s on-field shape was, at best, sporadic. Head coach John Carver started with a 4-4-2, switching to a 4-3-3 at halftime. But that’s on paper. On the field, things were a lot more ragged. Look up on any free kick, and you’d see 3-2-squiggle, 5-5 (kinda), or 2-1-something-vaguely-resembling-a-turnip.

    On one goal kick late in the match, the entire TFC squad was stretched out in the same long diagonal line. The Sounders surrounded this with ease. And who do you imagine ended up with the ball?

    While the Sounders, in general, kept the ball out of the wind, the ramshackle Reds hoofed it up there repeatedly. When the ball came down – “where” was anyone’s guess – it was mostly guys in green who were leaping to control it.

    - Winger Rohan Ricketts got the ball, and repeatedly went exactly where the Sounders wanted him to – alone on the touchline with no clear path to his teammates. Ricketts gamely and doggedly ran the ball, but was just about never able to fashion a telling pass. On a day when teamwork was crucial and decisive, Ricketts played a lonely game of keep-away that wasted more than it created. He was off at halftime.

    - Dwayne DeRosario didn’t adjust. He wasn’t alone in this, by any means. But DeRo’s the go-to guy, and when his team is losing and the ball isn’t coming, he has to step up and do it himself.

    When Danny Dichio subbed in on the hour mark, the oft-injured veteran immediately started getting to the ball. Time and again, Dichio won it – even deep in his own end on one occasion. DeRo has to play like that, and didn’t.

    Dichio, I believe, has earned himself a start next week against FC Dallas – particularly given that striker Chad Barrett’s on-field invisibility streak has now seeped to three full games.

    - Back behind the ball, Toronto is playing an intriguing game of chicken. Fullbacks Jim Brennan and Marvell Wynne love to overlap, pushing forward to add depth and danger to the attack. That leaves two at the back, and centre back Adrian Serioux loves to move up to aggressively and man-mark 35 yards from goal.

    Unfortunately, that leaves us with Kevin Harmse versus the Universe in the TFC box. Yesterday, the Universe won going away.

    - So that leaves us with head coach Sigi Schmid, coasting his Pale Green Nor’Westers to a perfect 3-0 start, while the Columbus side he rode to a championship just half a year ago is posing for 4-1 trouncings at the fluttering, battering wings of Seagull City SC. Coincidence? Not likely.

    On their gala home opener, on The Day The Boys Came Home, Toronto FC got schooled by a fine invading general, whose well-prepared troops calmly and decisively overcame the wind, the cold, the hype, the hope, and a lonely Rohan Ricketts who repeatedly abandoned himself on the gale-swept wastes of the empty right wing.

    Will things get better in Toronto? Yes. Is it time to book that playoff party? No.

    School’s in for real now – and there’s a lot of homework to do.

    Oh! – Young TFC striker and Argentine import Pablo Vitti looked great. Anyway else want to see how he does with Dichio holding up the ball for him next weekend?


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