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PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2018 3:01 am    Post subject: m up a little better after t Reply with quote

It was the biggest match to date of the season and Toronto FC failed to show up. That was the basic premise in a 2-0 loss Saturday afternoon to the Philadelphia Union, capping off a thoroughly disappointing week. Three losses in three games against Eastern Conference rivals, a coaching change, more injuries and fresh questions about Toronto FCs playoff credentials remain in the aftermath. Adversity has come to the team and the bell has not been answered. The performances, subpar, out-scored 6-0 against teams ripe in the playoff hunt. Back-to-back losses against the Union particularly hurt, with Philadelphia leapfrogging Toronto in the standings. Four points out of six seemed a reasonable goal in the home-and-home with the Union. No points to show for constitute a failure. There is no sugarcoating it: the performance was poor and the boos ringing out at BMO Field were deserved. But before we go any further, please make note: All is not lost. Toronto FC is very much alive. The headlines and narrative surrounding the team has been decidedly negative, but completely overblown, considering Toronto FC were in position to control their own playoff destiny eight days ago, sitting in a playoff spot with at least a game in hand on all teams in and around them in the standings. An initial burst of energy or inspiration after a coaching change may not have played out. The depth on this team (or lack thereof) has not been fit to deal with a number of key injuries. And players playing through injury have not had a decided positive impact. Defensive errors and resorting to the long ball in attack featured in the lackluster performance. Confidence and communication are clearly lacking, leading to sloppy goals conceded. While the negative seems overwhelming, it must be said the team remains in a playoff spot, depending on the results of Columbus and New York this weekend. Regardless, Toronto FC is still right in the mix in a weak Eastern Conference. The MLS roster freeze comes September 15th and Im told the market is quiet, although as teams in the Western Conference fall to the wayside, perhaps there is possibility to add. General manager Tim Bezbatchenko is aware of the expectations and will certainly look to add to the team, particularly at the back. There is now a week before Toronto FC is next in action: a chance to breathe, refocus, and heal. Seven days to get things back on track. Here are my five thoughts on Toronto FC latest setback: 1) Missing Stevo – To say Toronto FC misses captain Steven Caldwell is an absolute understatement. Caldwell is the leader, key communicator, and glue across the backline. Without the Scotsman, Toronto FC is a vulnerable bunch lacking direction and positional discipline. Goals by Conor Casey and Andrew Wenger came from failure to clear and poor marking in and around the six-yard box. Such error is not expected as this juncture of the season. Countless times over the last two games, the back four has become stretched and the players have been forced to deal with being out-numbered. Without timely saves by goalkeeper Joe Bendik, the results could have been worse. There is talent in the unit, but the current composition, sans Caldwell, is just not right. Nick Hagglund and Doneil Henry each show promise, but are both 21 with brighter days ahead. Each are easily drawn out of position and left vulnerable by their own doing. Mark Bloom appeared in just six MLS matches before this season and hardly looks the player he was before injury. And Bradley Orr is playing through a toe injury: not an ideal situation for the lone veteran across the back. Each has positive moments, but are failing to gel as a collective. Defensive composure is essential through growing pains. That has to be fixed. Caldwell understood how much he was missed and came back from injury too soon. Patience is required to heal. In the meantime, the team struggles without Captain Caldwell. 2) Broken Wings – The one noticeable change from former head coach Ryan Nelsen to Greg Vanney is the wingbacks getting up the field into the attack. The thought behind the tactic is worthwhile, but fails to come off without Justin Morrow manning the left side. Toronto FCs current wingbacks havent provided the needed service and/or pace down the flanks to truly threaten. And in turn, getting too far up the field has left Toronto FC exposed on the counter. Philadelphia had a field day the last two matches exposing Toronto pushing forward. The problem isnt simply with the cover by the defenders. The central midfield has been slow to react. Collen Warner in particular failed to get back to cover, filling the space in rotation to make a back four. The recovery runs havent been made with purpose across the midfield. Warner was substituted in the 44th minute; a message sent by Vanney. If the wingbacks are going to continue to attack, communication, rotation, and defensive commitment from the midfield has to be better. 3) Central Midfield Dilemma – Vanney should consider switching up the central combination for next week in Chicago. Both Warner and Michael Bradley are good players, but play too similar a role in the middle, both regularly falling deep to build from the back. When they turn on the ball, there are few options available, with the preferable option consistently being to play the ball to either wingback. The wingbacks, in turn, play the long back, giving away possession. I blame a lack of options available through the middle of the park and too much congestion elsewhere. There is no texture to the central midfield and the build up wanes because of it. If Bradley is going to hold, a more attack-minded midfield partner may remedy what ails the position. When fit Jonathan Osorio is the option, that makes most sense. Osorio has struggled in his sophomore campaign playing most often out on the left. A move into the middle seems to be the better fit. Kyle Bekker wasnt up for it in the second half, so options in the role are limited. Or perhaps Vanney elects to move to a 4-3-3, which seems more suited to the personnel available. Vanney expressed his desire to have flexibility in terms of the tactics. Its a big ask of the players to make such a formational change this late in the season but this may be necessary based on current form. The attack needs be much better. 4) Short vs. Long Term – It was always a risk for Bezbatchenko to pull the plug on Nelsen and his staff when he did. Even Vanney himself couldnt recall a time in Major League Soccer when a manager had been fired while sitting in a playoff spot this late in the season. Its clear the front office and coaching staff needed be on the same page. Time will tell whether the timing on this one was right. The safer move for Bez would have been to keep Nelsen on until the end of the season, then make a change. If the team failed to make the playoffs, Nelsen could have been the fall guy. But time wasnt something the general manager thought he had. Bezbatchenko is confident he made the best decision for both short and long term. Its difficult for Toronto FC supporters to hear, but the franchise is going through yet another process of growth and identification. The financial commitment made raises the stakes but doesnt change the process. The balance between the push for the playoffs and lasting build is a difficult balance, especially for a rookie GM. Big picture, it remains about getting it right and creating something sustainable for the club to build off for years to come. Break-ups are never easy. This case is no different. 5) Defoe Story – Vanney says he expects Jermain Defoe to return to the team by the 20th. This comes after a Daily Mail story claiming Defoe is trying to negotiate a buyout from the club. Lets be clear, the Daily Mail is hardly a bastion of truth in sports reporting. And even if we assume Defoe (which very well may be the case) is angling for a way out of Toronto, there is no chance Toronto would give him a buyout after the team kept hold of a prized asset, resisting temptation to sell for a record number in the dying hours before the transfer window closed. Defoe is in Toronto until January, period. After that, all bets are off. Defoe needs to get back at it, prove he is fit mentally and physically, and be on the field for the stretch run. He makes the team better. And Toronto will feel much better saying goodbye if Defoe helps this team make the playoffs. This is more a test of Defoes focus and demeanor than anything at Toronto FC. Next up for Toronto FC is a visit to Chicago to take on the Fire next Saturday. @WheelerTSNgareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca Rays Wilmer Font Jersey . He still wanted out. "It just seemed like the direction they were going didnt fit what I thought my career was going to be," Kesler said. "At the end of the day I want to win a championship and I want to win it now, and four years is a little too long for me. Stitched Rays Jerseys . Reimer is winless (0-2-1) since returning from a six-week absence due to concussion-like symptoms. The Maple Leafs dropped a 4-2 decision to the hosting Washington Capitals on Friday. http://www.cheapraysjerseysauthentic.com/. Aaron Hill and Cliff Pennington hit home runs in the first inning for the Diamondbacks, who beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Friday night. Rays Jesus Sucre Jersey . PETERSBURG, Florida – Its been almost seven years since the Blue Jays last won a series at Tropicana Field. Rays Ryne Stanek Jersey . The move - the latest twist in Greeces nearly three-year financial freefall -- is the first such action by any of the countrys major sports bodies. It immediately halts all domestic track and field competitions, including track meets May 12-13 in several Greek cities.MILWAUKEE -- Freddie Freeman finally solved Miller Park. The best way to hit there is to hit it out. Freeman, hitting .111 in 10 previous games at the Brewers ballpark, hit a pair of solo home runs, and Jason Heyward added a two-run shot, powering the Atlanta Braves to a 5-2 victory over Milwaukee on Tuesday night. "I dont know what it is. Ive always struggled here," said Freeman, who had four singles in 36 previous at-bats at Miller Park. "Its nice. I was obviously due." Freeman opened the sixth with his first homer off Kyle Lohse (0-1) to put Atlanta up 3-1 and added a two-out home run in the eighth off Zach Duke to extend the lead to 4-1. "Ive always seemed to hit Lohse pretty good and he left a couple out for me," Freeman said. Heywards first homer of the season, after a one-out walk to No. 8 hitter Andrelton Simmons, put the Braves on top 2-1 in the fifth and snapped a string of 22 scoreless innings against the Brewers. Yovani Gallardo helped shut out the Braves on opening day. "For me, the key was walking Simmons in that inning because you have the inning set up to where you dont have to get to the top of the lineup if I do my job there," said Lohse, who allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking two. Alex Wood (1-0) settled down for Atlanta after allowing a home run to Carlos Gomez on his first pitch. The left-hander allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for the save. "First pitch of the game, first hitter, you dont have much choice than to put it behind you from the get-go," said Wood. "It took me a few innings to settle in but after that, II got into a groove, got my fastball command back and just took off from there.dddddddddddd" The Brewers were 8-2 in their last 10 games against Atlanta, with six shutouts, including the final meeting last season on a two-hitter by Lohse. "The last three or four years, we havent really done well against the Brewers or here at Miller Park," Freeman said. "Its nice to get the first one out of the way. As an offence, we knew we werent going to get shut out of the whole 162 . we let them sweat it out for the first 15 innings." Gomez hustled the Brewers within 4-2 in the eighth after drawing a leadoff walk. With one out, he stole second as Ryan Braun struck out, and continued to third on a throwing error by catcher Evan Gattis. Aramis Ramirez singled in Gomez. Atlanta answered with a run in the ninth on a double by Dan Uggla, a single by Gattis and sacrifice fly by Simmons. The Braves missed a chance to tie it in the fourth when Freeman singled to open, but was cut down at the plate by Gomez on Ugglas two-out double to left-centre. "That was huge," Lohse said. "Theyve been working hard on that all spring and did a great job picking me up right there. I wish I would have picked them up a little better after that." NOTES: Gomezs lead-off home run was the third of his career. The other two were with Minnesota in 2008. ... The starting pitchers for the final game of the three-game series Wednesday are Matt Garza for the Brewers against Aaron Harang, each making his first start for his new team ... Braun, who received a standing ovation during Tuesdays home opener, was greeted with a round of applause and a smattering of boos during his first at-bat Wednesday. 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