They must command fear from the opposition. They must force opposing defences to respect them.
If opposing defenders and holding midfielders fear the strikers, they won’t commit forward as much; they hang back to try and mitigate counterattacks. And, that opens up space for other teammates; if the strikers are marked, then there will be openings that allow a midfielder to make a run.
But it’s clear that Toronto FC doesn’t have a healthy striker who can command that fear and/or respect. It’s evident on how opposing teams can crowd out TFC in the final third of the pitch. The strikers don’t pull defenders out of position. And, TFC, try as hard as it might, can’t create any real threats in the final third.
Case in point: Saturday’s 2-0 loss at the New York Red Bulls. The result now leaves TFC with 23 points with five games left to play. With Houston’s win over Philadelphia Saturday night, the Reds are officially (as in, mathematically) eliminated from playoff contention. If somehow lightning struck five times in a row, and the Reds won their last five, they’d get to 38 points. The Philadelphia Union, which held fifth place at the time of this article, have 39 points.
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