Monday, May 21, 2007

Nuts and Bolts

Toronto FC 1 - 2 DC United

From one so-called cathedral of football to another.... Toronto's BMO Field cost roughly one-twentieth what Wembley did, so I suppose it's hardly a surprise that it's started falling apart already. That's right, they had to do some emergency repairs to replace bolts that were falling off. Who would have imagined that 20,000 people stomping on aluminum bleachers would make them a little bit rickety? I know, it's shocking. It does make quite a ruckus, though -- I watched the game on TV and it was good to see how much of the crowd noise came through.

Anyway, Toronto's all-too-brief winning streak is at an end, although they did at least get onto the scoreboard again. DC were in last place coming into the game, but they had the advantage of being much more rested -- and their record so far this year belies the fact that they're generally a strong team.

There was a scrappy opening to the match, with Toronto spending a lot of time pinned back in their own half. But they worked themselves into the game, and it gradually opened up more. Alecko Eskandarian's pace was giving his old teammates some trouble, and he opened his account for Toronto just before halftime, the ball pinging around the box before falling luckily to him, and he smashed it into the back of the net.

Unfortunately they couldn't hold on to their lead; the defensive problems, which I thought they'd managed to overcome, cropping up again in the second half. Toronto's back line needs to get better at playing the offside trap -- they were nearly caught out a few times -- and stop standing off the attackers quite so much. You can't let someone into the box with the ball and then try to close them down. They basically gifted the win to DC, first with an own goal (Goldthwaite flicking the ball into his own net from a free kick) and then a penalty late in the game.

Despite the loss, I'm not too discouraged. The defensive mishaps were mostly due to inexperience, so that's relatively easy to fix. Up front they've got a few decent options (Dichio looked better this week, passing to his teammates instead of behind them), and they've gotten better at playing through the midfield rather than just punting the ball long. The other thing they need to figure out is how physical they can be with their challenges -- it seemed like quite a lot of the referee's decisions went against the home team, surprisingly.

Finally, thumbs down to CBC for cutting into the live game broadcast to accommodate hockey, but thumbs up for having it available streaming on their website, and for having a commentary team that didn't make me want to maim anyone. Now if they could just get some decent camera angles for the offside replays...

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