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Opposite View: Toronto FC at Philadelphia Union

Waking The Red's Duncan Fletcher gives Union fans a look at the upcoming match between Toronto and Philadelphia from a Reds perspective.

It's been like that when TFC and Philadelphia have met lately...
It's been like that when TFC and Philadelphia have met lately...

At this stage of the season we all just want it to be over. It was always going to be a tough season, it was always going to be a 7th straight year of missing the playoffs, but did it really have to be this hard, with 7 points taken from a terrible DC side being the only thing that allowed our point total to overtake what we all presumed must have been rock bottom, the 2012 season? At the start of the season, TFC were almost competitive but just couldn't stop shooting themselves in the foot. That eventually got better and there was even a 2 game win streak, but then the one undeniable bright spot of the season Matias Laba got injured and it's been one long limp home since then. And oh yeah, we abandoned the new plan of Kevin Payne in favour of another new plan, this time with untested Tim Bezbatchenko the man in charge of getting the players Ryan Nelsen (almost one year of head coach experience) wants, while Tim Leiweke pulls the strings from up above. But oh yeah, not before we let Payne catch his Moby Dick, getting the long pursued and presumably quite expensive Maximiliano Urruti, who was then shipped out to Portland within a week of Payne's firing. With big name DP's being promised, but probably not until after the World Cup, it's already preseason 2015. Fun.

What to expect from TFC:

I hate the term anti-football, but if any team exemplifies it it's Toronto FC. Due to years of constant rebuilding and some bad luck with injuries, TFC just does not have the talent right now to play any kind of adventurous game with any kind of success. So it's been a very basic 4-4-2 with 2 defensive midfielders pretty much all season. There's not a lot of excitement that comes from that, and there's been very few teams that have been able to look good against us either, instead generally sinking to our level, though recently at least the opposition generally does come out on top.
Steven Caldwell has anchored the defence well, he and Doneil Henry are a very physical centre back partnership and generally TFC don't let many goals in. As for attacking, well it's generally either the long ball, or we move it out to the wings and then throw a cross in, not exactly sophisticated stuff.

Players to watch:

As I said, TFC's game is very much all about going down the wings, and the wingers will be Bobby Convey and Alvaro Rey.  They'll generally be on the left and right respectively, but do swap wings from time to time, and the full backs will do their best to join them on the overlap, especially Ashtone Morgan on the left. Rey's the more spectacular of thw two, he's only played a few games but has looked quite good so far, if he can bring consistency to go with his trickery he could be a very good winger in the league.  Jonathan Osorio, back form a two game suspension, will be in one of the two defensive midfield positions and generally charged with providing any creativity in the middle. he's also a goal threat, as quite surprisingly is Darel Russell, scorer in 2 straight games now form one of those DM spots.  For a team so reliant on long balls and crosses, TFC has been missing a goood big man up front all season, Justin Braun just not being good enough. It's only been a couple of games but Bright Dike, formerly of Portland looks like he might be ok in that role, at the very least he'll put himself about and make life difficult for the defenders.

Areas to exploit:

TFC do play with two defensive midfielders, but since Matias Laba went down injured, they haven't always been all that effective, and with the attacking midfielders being wide players there's often a lot of space to be found and joy to be had attacking down the middle. If the DM's sit too far back, there's plenty of time for creative types like Sebastian Le Toux to pick out a key pass. there's also been a few goals recently where there's been way too much space between the defence and the DM's, which leads to awkward decisions to be made by the defenders, pulling them out of position. Centre back Doneil Henry has a lot of potential and physical ability, but is still learning and sometimes can make bad decisions as to how closely to follow a centre forward. He'd relish a straight forward physical battle with Conor Casey, but if Casey can drop deep or wide, then there's a lot of potential for some positional chaos to be caused. At right back, Mark Bloom, currently on loan from Atlanta, is auditioning for a job next year and his lack of experience can show. A couple of goals have been given up recently by him losing his marker.  Given what has happened twice already this year, you'd hope TFC would remember to mark Jack McInerney in injury time, but there's a good chance TFC could be just the ticket for him to get his goalscoring boots working again.


A dull game lacking in quality and excitement, ending 1-1.

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