First off, I'm not terribly disappointed with the result. I understand TFC is a work in progress. I am disappointed however by the lack of intensity and motivation demonstrated by the Toronto players last night. I just wasn't inspired by their play. Yes TFC showed sporadic signs of brilliance in the first half, came close to scoring, and were terribly unlucky. That said they were non existent in the second half. Toronto looked timid, nervous, confused, frustrated, disorganized, and tired - they looked every bit an expansion team. The big name guys didn't show up tonight. Carl Robinson was a major disappointment based on all the hype, and Andy Welsh was not the spark plug we were promised (although he was probably not 100% match fit - I hope). It wasn't all bad though. What did I tell you folks about Maycoll Canizalez when it was discovered he was with the team a couple months back. While he didn't light the game on fire by any means, he was a spark plug all night on the flanks. He is a jewel of a player that will shine in the MLS - take my word for it. Sadly though, he was also probably the least paid player on the field. Greg Sutton also looked solid - he will do well in MLS. All and all, not the perfect start we had all hoped for, but it wasn't all bad either.
Chivas on the other hand looked calm, composed, patient and organized for the most part. Toronto managed to break down their back line a few times, but nothing out of the ordinary in the course of a match.Chivas keeper Brad Guzan was called upon to make several quality saves in the first half. I was shocked to see Jonathan Bornstein start, but aside from that, Chivas was what I expected of them. They controlled the tempo, and dominated the possession, especially in the second half. They were clearly the better and more deserving team on the night. It will be a different story come August when the two teams meet again. Unlike some of the other MLS matches on Saturday, the conditions and weather looked perfect for the game. Though the opening day "real" attendances league wide, was pretty sad. We are going to have to show our American counterparts how its really done on April 28th. Right folks???
NOTES: I know many of you love the TFC strip, and will jump all over me for this, but the players looked awful last night with the red shorts, grey jersey, and grey socks. I'm not a fan of the colour grey, and I follow a strict, unwritten rule, to never wear anything grey in public during the summer (perspiration shows up way too much for my liking). The jerseys didn't stand out on TV either. I would personally much prefer a white away strip anyway. The people watching with me last night poked fun of the uniforms all night, suggesting they looked amateur, and I had to agree. So here is a cry for some help from you folks that read this blog from Adidas Offices on both sides of the Atlantic (I know there are at least a couple of you) - instruct Toronto not to wear the red with grey, or get working on a crisp white third jersey right away. Mo Johnston on the other hand continues to impress me with his suit and tie collection. Along with Fernando Clavijo, Sir Mo is one of the best dressed coaches in all of MLS.
As for the Canadian TV coverage - Craig Forrest was great, but Gerry Dobson is a talking cure for insomnia. He is not a play, play man, not for soccer anyway. He has come a long way over the years, but his voice is hard to tolerate, and his research has much to be desired. I'm probably one of the only people that noticed, yet he repeatedly called out the wrong Chivas players last night, and really, he avoided calling their names as much as he could. He must of said "pardon me" 5 or 6 times - why send him to LA, save the money and have him call the games from a studio if that was the best he could do. I feel really bad for the folks unfamiliar with MLS, trying to get a handle of the players on the other teams. Toronto FC do yourself a favour, find someone else to join Craig, or give the fans the option to watch the Fox Soccer Channel feed and the excellent pregame. My only pet peeve about Craig was that he undervalued Maycoll Canizalez's experience (though he praised his contribution and quality all night). After all, Canizalez was involved with a couple of big German Bundesliga clubs, and has played in the German leagues for the last few years, which is certainly a higher standard than most of the players on the field have ever achieved.
Toronto FC Player Ratings:
GK - Greg Sutton - looked a bit confused on first goal, a couple really good stops, good distribution, looked calm 6
DF - Andrew Boyens - showed signs of inexperience, and nerves, but held his own 5
DF - Marco Reda - solid, calm, not ready for 90 minutes though, injury was too bad 6
DF - Jim Brennan - a quiet night is always good when your a defender, certainly not the Jim Brennan of old 5
MF - Paul Nagamura - gritty performance, forced a couple of turnovers, was fairly active all night 6
MF - Carl Robinson - was easily beat a couple of times; distribution was less than expected, did not live up to the hype 4
MF - Andy Welsh - awkward looking player, obviously not yet 100%, not the spark plug advertised 4
MF - Maycoll Canizalez - best TFC field player tonight imo, was cool, calm, & classy 7
MF - Richard Mulrooney - did his job for the most part, held his own, good player 6
FW - Alecko Eskandarian - had a couple of good chances, did not convert, hard to blame strikers with so little service coming from the midfield 5
FW - Edson Buddle - came close a couple of times, no goals, floated in and out of the game - usual Buddle, tough to blame forwards with so little service from midfield 5
DF - Adam Braz - short stint, poor distribution 4
FW - Conor Casey - looked confused and frustrated, not in tune with teammates just yet 4