The off-season rhetoric was that of management having finally solved TFC’s back line issues once and for all. As we’ve seen early in this season already, defending is still very much the Achilles Heel of this team no matter how much cash has been spent on bonafide attack minded players. Despite having US internationals Altidore and Bradley back in the line up, injuries across the back line were just too much to cope with as TFC dropped their 3rd straight contest against Chicago.
Chicago’s pace quickly seemed to catch Toronto’s lethargic and dysfunctional back four asleep with run after run burning the wide men as TFC continued to press a high line. The Fire opened the scoring on a Joevin Jones shot that most will feel Joe Bendik should’ve been able to get a hand to. As Robbie Findley did his best to clear the ball up the wing, the ball deflected back into play and allowed Jones to find his way into the box, leading to a low shot that found the bottom of the goal.
Then came Giovinco time.
Just 5 minutes after Chicago opened the scoring, an excellent attacking sequence gave Ashtone Morgan an excellent crossing opportunity. Instead of the traditional high cross across the box to no one, Morgan found Giovinco with a lovely pass cut back near the top of the box. With what I’m sure will be one of the ugliest goals all season, Giovinco managed to beat a sprawling Busch to equalize for TFC and get his first goal in North America. I’m really hoping that highlight doesn’t make its back to Italy.
Seba then added an assist in the 54th minute by showing his vision in finding Benoit Cheyrou to give the Reds a 2-1 lead.
Memories of last week against RSL came flooding back shortly after.
As has become a tradition with this team, Chicago equalized not more than 2 minutes later on a complete defensive collapse that allowed Shaun Maloney a shot through traffic. To his credit, Joe Bendik had absolutely no chance to stop the shot as he was being screened by at least 3 defenders and a Fire player at the same time.
Warren Creavalle’s season has been rocky so far to say the least, but it quickly went from bad to worse. Having already been shown a yellow card this match, a reckless challenge on David Accam resulted in his second yellow and a sending off. On the ensuing free kick, a low direct shot from Jeff Larentowicz somehow managed to beat a diving Joe Bendik. This was the second Fire goal that Bendik should’ve been able to get a hand too.
Having essentially started the half a goal up and some momentum being built, TFC found themselves both a goal and a man down. Unfortunately, no answer could be mustered and the game ended in Chicago’s favour.
Creavalle’s Suspension will make way for out of favour Mark Bloom
Although no coach ever wants to have to deal with the suspension of a player who has featured in all 4 matches this season, its fair to say that had Mark Bloom been healthy, Creavalle would be glued to the benchafter what he’s shown so far. He has played atrocious soccer and has become a liability. The excuse that he isn’t a natural right back was valid for the first couple of mistakes, but now has become a cop-out. As someone who has never been overly fond of Mark Bloom’s abilities, I don’t think he has ever been as great a liability has Warren Creavalle has become. However, should he not be ready for next the next match against FC Dallas, it will leave another hole left to be filled by yet another inexperienced player.
Defending Needs to Improve
This cannot be overstated. For the second straight season, the injury bug has struck very early and I don’t know how or why. Are players being worked too hard in training or is it just simply bad luck? Former captain Steven Caldwell has only featured in one match so far, while Damien Perquis has only played two. The partnership between these two veterans is so vital to this teams success and by not having them in the lineup, it opens the door to inexperience. As it turns out, you can spend all the money you want on attacking players, but if you don’t have a solid defensive core, you will lose. All that being said, it has been great seeing Ashtone Morgan being given the opportunity to feature in the past two matches. He has worked hard and has made the decision to leave him off the starting squad very difficult for the coaching staff.
Need to see more from Bradley and Altidore
Although Michael Bradley has been far from terrible, he hasn’t seemed to have the level of influence that he is capable of, especially since he was given the captaincy. He has been the linchpin in the transition from defending into attack, but I’d just like to see more from him. Maybe I’m asking too much. But one player I’m not asking for too much from is Jozy Altidore. Since the first game in Vancouver he has been awfully quiet which has started to sound the alarm bells in my head. I don’t think he is totally to blame; his partnership with Robbie Findley and to an extent Giovinco hasn’t exactly bore much fruit since week one. That will need to change, and fast.