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xusuwen96
01-03-2018, 11:48 PM
Frustrating. Sloppy. Forgettable. Choose your adjective. Toronto FC was poor in a 2-1 home loss to the New England Revolution. The play on the field resembled the dark and dreary day by the lake in downtown Toronto. The Revs may have come away with all three points, but they were no better than the home side. Two absolute gifts were the tangible difference on the day. An overall disappointing display and now three straight losses for Toronto FC. Head coach Ryan Nelsen said afterwards it was a "really good" performance by his team. Beauty must be in the eye of the beholder. Toronto FC out-possessed their opponent for the first time all season, which is progress. It should be noted there is a tangible difference between positive and negative possession. The attacking play was all too narrow and lack of cutting edge or decisiveness in the attacking end is a significant concern. Many will point to the 82nd minute penalty as Toronto FC reverting back to their old ways, conceding late. In truth, the full 90 was concerning. A fully healthy squad meant, for the first time all season, Nelsen had his full compliment of weapons. Coming off a bye week, playing at home should have given ample time for rest, recoup and regeneration. Instead, 50-50 balls were won by New England (56.5 per cent) and mistakes were more noticeable than sustained, meaningful build-up. Canadian mens national team head coach Benito Floro was in attendance to see three of his internationals feature in Toronto FCs starting XI. His analysis of the Canadian contributions had to be similar to the rest of the Canadian team: a work in progress. A late right leg/ankle injury to Jonathan Osorio left the Canadian international on crutches. If England manager Roy Hodgson were watching, he would have seen a rather anonymous performance by Jermain Defoe in his return from a long-term hamstring issue. Defoe played the full 90 (a positive) but lacked his typical sharpness. Service from the midfield remains an issue and certainly contributed to the non-descript afternoon. There is only so much he can do on his own. Here are my five thoughts on the 2-1 loss: 1) Shapes of the Midfield - Alvaro Rey was kept out of the starting XI in preference of Kyle Bekker and/or Osorio, however you want to look at it. Bekker was deployed in a holding role, which seems to be Nelsens preference, allowing attack-minded Osorio and all-action Michael Bradley to get forward. The outside left position is an interesting one for Osorio, giving him freedom to roam, checking in and out of the middle of the field. The question is whether the team is better off using a more traditional 4-4-2 with natural wing players or having Osorio in a freer role. All too often, the attack was too narrow and predictable, easy to play against. If this is the way Toronto FC wants to play, they need more overlapping runs from the wingbacks to make it work. And whether Bekker is ready/able to be a stabilizing defensive midfield player is highly debatable. Nelsen acknowledged he was happy how his new-look middle four worked. To the critical eye, it needs work. 2) Oh Henry - Centre-back Doniel Henry returned from a five-week absence (left knee sprain) and the early returns didnt flatter. It was a struggle throughout, with Henry the culprit for both goals conceded. In the first half, Henrys careless, errant pass straight up the middle went right to Revolution midfielder Daigo Kobayashi. A quick pass to Patrick Mullins and a powerful strike from distance beat Julio Cesar for the equalizer. Credit Mullins, as he still had much work to do. Henrys distribution and decision-making must improve for him to take the next step. Remember, hes only 20. With a physical maturity beyond his years, its the mental maturity that is a step behind. Hes a beast in challenges and will continue to be a frustrating asset for the time being. The final blow on a gut-wrenching day for the defender was his handball in the box, leading to the 82nd minute Lee Nguyen penalty winner. A controversial retaken corner kick and Justin Morrows ensuing poor clearance obviously played a role. All too often, Henry slides recklessly inside the 18-yard box and this time, he was punished with the ball hitting his arm. There was no argument whether it was a penalty. Henry will have better days. Hes still the starting centre-back for this team. That should not be debated. 3) In Bloom? - It remains somewhat a surprise Mark Bloom is the preferred option at right back. Bloom has done little wrong to start the season. Hes proven himself to be a valuable squad player on an incredibly team friendly contract. But is he the best option? Bloom provides little getting forward in attack. There were numerous opportunities to get forward and overlap, yet he stays put, falling deep in support. When he does get forward, good things happen. But hes not programmed to be that free-flowing outside back that is preferential in the modern game. Bradley Orr, on the other hand, has more to offer. The Englishman was outstanding deputizing at centre-back with Henry out through injury. Orr is a natural right back however, and seems a better fit to take over the position. Bloom should and will continue to play a role. But Nelsen may do better with Orr as his regular. 4) Action Jackson - The Brazilian midfielder was all over the field, in the middle of good and bad all day long. Jacksons goal was fortunate, taking a nasty deflection off AJ Soares, freezing goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Its Jacksons goal for now, but a case can be made for an own goal. The rest of the day was hardly a Picasso. The Brazilians work-rate is his biggest asset. A controlled temperament is not in his arsenal. Jackson has been involved in numerous questionable challenges on the year. In the 43rd minute, he was involved in the worst of any to date. Jackson failed to control and went in high and late on Chris Tierney, catching the midfielder with his studs up to the chest. Jackson was shown a yellow but he should have been sent off. A little more restraint is needed in a league where more times than not, hasty decisions are made. He needs to be more in control: of the ball, in his decisions, and positioning. 5) Failure to Launch - Nelsen pointed to missed opportunities as being a disappointment. Misfiring Gilberto hit the post twice and still looks a step off and rather uncomfortable in his surroundings. Henry had a header on the far post go wide. And Defoe was crafty in manufacturing a chance late, putting a left-footed strike just past the left post. Its fair for Nelsen to point to the inability to take their chances as reason for defeat. Its also fair to say New England, despite only having 40 per cent possession, missed opportunities as well. Both teams were similar in attempts on goal (15-14), so its how Toronto FC uses possession thats the bigger issue. Bradley continues to be a powerhouse going forward through the middle. But on a day the opponent is content to sit back and welcome pressure through the middle, its all too predictable and easy to defend. Toronto FC needs to spread its tactical wings, developing layers of attack and giving more options through natural team movement. If they are unable to do so, they will remain best as a counter-attacking team, relying on the likes of Defoe to take whatever limited chances fall their way. This, perhaps, is not the best way to utilize millions of dollars of talent. Once again, this is a work in progress for all. Progress is essential over the next month leading into the World Cup break. There is still good reason to think this can all come together and work efficiently. Next up for Toronto FC is a date with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the opening leg of their Amway Canadian Championship tie, Wednesday (7:30pm et) at BMO Field. @WheelerTSNgareth.wheeler@bellmedia.ca Benjamin Watson Jersey (http://www.ravensjerseyscheapauthentic.com/ravens-benjamin-watson-black-jersey/) . Right-hander Todd Redmond took the loss. Jose Bautista hit his second home run of the spring. Here are a handful of tidbits from around camp: Hutchison impressive The Blue Jays are being cautious when talking about their young arms but internally, excitement is building over the way Drew Hutchison is looking and performing this spring. C.J. Mosley Jersey (http://www.ravensjerseyscheapauthentic.com/ravens-c-j-mosley-black-jersey/) . The Laval Rouge et Or defensive back/kick-returner gained the invitation following his showing Sunday at an NFL regional combine in Baltimore. http://www.ravensjerseyscheapauthentic.com/ravens-ryan-jensen-black-jersey/. 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There was the requisite hockey sense demanded from the countrys very best and of equal importance, if not more so, was the ability to burn up and down the ice, the latter of significant consequence on the generally unfamiliar international ice surface. "I think we have a really good mix of players here that bring a lot of elements," said Doug Armstrong, the Blues GM and a member of Team Canadas management team, "but the one element they all have is skating ability." Its likely why someone like 34-year-old Joe Thornton a member of the gold medal winning squad in 2010 and top point producer again this season, but certainly not the fleetest of foot was not named to the team this time around, replaced by explosive types such as Matt Duchene and Jamie Benn. In fact, the Canadian roster in Vancouver featured a number of players who were probably never be described as quick Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Dany Heatley, Eric Staal but could get around just fine, at that point in their respective careers, on the NHL-sized ice. "I think you see some players that can play on the North American ice [that are] not quite as fleet of foot, but the space they have to get to they can get to quicker and hold it longer. From the corners to the front of the net the distance isnt as great. I think its a different style," Armstrong said. "A bigger man can have success maybe in the North American game thats a little harder to have here." Absent is a single player on this roster who cant get up and down the ice effectively. Quickly adjusting to the larger international ice surface 15 additional feet wide will be among the greater challenges facing the Canadians as they look to become the first back-to-back gold medal winning squad in the NHL era of the Olympics. All of which explains why swiftness on skates not to mention the ability to move the puck with equal speed and precision was such a fundamental asset in the selection process. Canada managed to win its first gold in 50 years on the Olympic size ice in Salt Lake City, but fell badly short four years later in Torino they finished a distant seventh. Though other gold medal hopefuls face a similar challenge with the vast majority of talent migrating to Russia from the NHL the Canadians (and Americans certainly) will be required to climb a somewhat higher hill, having only played on the 200 by 100 foot surface sparingly. "Theres no question," said head coach Mike Babcock, "when youve grown up your whole life playing on one surface youre probably pretty comfortable with that surface. I know we are in North America. So theres a little adjustment, well get it worked out." One adjustment Babcock will seek is shorter shift lenngths: from the NHL standard of 45 seconds down to 40 seconds with more space to cover and ground potentially to protect.ddddddddddddHe and the coaching staff, which includes big ice expert and former Swiss National Team coach Ralph Krueger, will also stress the need to attack inside on the offensive end, rather than linger on the perimeter as an opponent would prefer. "As much wider [as] the rink is you still want to play an up and down, north and south game and I think its the strength of our team to be able to play at a high speed, high tempo, all four lines," said John Tavares, who played on the bigger ice in Switzerland during the last lockout. "I think thats where were going to be at our best." Other immediate challenges facing Canada (and just about every country) include the required role alterations demanded of NHL stars and energy-sapping jet lag, an adjustment most countries will face in some way or another. "We can talk about the size of the ice surface," said Yzerman, "but I think its adjusting to playing a lesser role. Youve got forwards that are used to playing 21-22 minutes a game that are going to play 10 and 11 and defencemen that are used to playing 27 playing 18. Thats a huge adjustment for them all." Stars and scoring champs are fighting for even the slightest bit of ice-time. Martin St. Louis was the oldest Art Ross winner in NHL history last season (he was 37) and has kept the Lightning afloat save the injured Steven Stamkos again this season, but he finds himself grinding amongst 14 forwards for an opportunity. He and Duchene, a fellow first-timer were on the outside of the forward lines on the opening day of practice at Bolshoy Ice Dome. "When I talked to St. Louis in Tampa I told him he was one of 14 forwards and that he has to grab his piece," said Babcock. "Thats what weve told everyone; theyve got to find a way to grab their piece." Babcock was flipping through lineups and line combinations from the triumphant experience in Vancouver alongside assistant coach Claude Julien and came to a very simple conclusion: things can change in a hurry. Mike Richards for instance, rose from the 14th forward to a key member of an effective trio which included Jonathan Toews and Rick Nash. "Its a competitive environment and we expect our guys to compete for their ice-time," Babcock said. The Canadian head coach got creative in his attempts to quell the effects of jet lag. Players were given a special package for the plane ride over to Sochi, a kit that included eye covers, ear plugs, melatonin, vitamins, and compression socks to reduce the possibility of swelling in the feet. They were also told to sleep no longer than four hours (some did anyway) and stay up until midnight if possible. All to curtail the effects of the drastic change in time zones. "Keep the players up," Babcock said of his goals for a practice that begin at 8pm local time. "We thought if we got some exercise at this time of night we had a better chance of staying up til midnight." 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