Home Uncategorized TFC can’t make the final pass as Reds settle for draw with Chicago

TFC can’t make the final pass as Reds settle for draw with Chicago


All season long Toronto FC has been victimized by a lack of a good finishing touch, but in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire, it was just getting to that last touch that was the problem.

In a game that the Reds controlled for much of the final 70 minutes, they hurt themselves on four different occasions by not making a final pass on a two-on-one situation. Alvaro Rey, Andrew Wiedeman, and Justin Braun (twice, though his second chance wasn’t too egregious) each had the ball with at least one teammate open for a cross, and yet the ball-holders all chose to shoot, with no success.

“We had four two-versus-ones and at this level you’ve got to take them. If we took one of them I think we would’ve won the game comfortably,” TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said.

The players weren’t necessarily being selfish by attempting to shoot rather than pass, Nelsen thought, aside from “maybe in the selfish way that they’re strikers and strikers want to score goals. It’s just about taking the right options and unfortunately we had a few of them that we just didn’t take.

“This is basic kind of stuff, which is frustrating. If we score one of them then they have to go after the game even more since they have to win, and it opens up even more opportunities for us.”

Chalk it up to lack of awareness, over-aggression or simply yet another case of a Toronto FC attack doing everything it can to sabotage itself. Beyond the non-passes, the Reds also ran into some bad luck in the 45th minute, when Rey curved a tremendous shot from outside the box that hit the lower half of the crossbar and stayed out.

Robert Earnshaw, at least, showed tremendous patience in scoring TFC’s lone goal of the evening. In the 23rd minute, Bobby Convey sent a pass from the left side that deflected off a Fire player and right to Earnshaw. The forward held the ball and waited for two defenders to over-commit and slide out of position, and then Earnshaw calmly fired the ball into the net. It was Earnshaw’s first goal since June 15 and only his second in his last 17 matches, though he still leads Toronto with seven goals on the season.

It was a costly score for Earnshaw and the Reds, however, as the striker came up limping on the play and had to leave the game just two minutes later with a hamstring injury. Earnshaw was “disappointed” since the injury came due to pitch conditions.

“Today was because the ground gave way in front of me and made me stretch. That’s what was annoying, it wasn’t because I was sprinting or anything like that,” Earnshaw said. “It was very slippery, there’s a lot of grass on it and maybe I’d feel like it needs to be cut a little bit. It’s hard to keep your footing… There’s a lot of water on the top and a lot of people are just slipping.”

The forward described himself as “very doubtful” for TFC’s next game (on Saturday at New York Red Bulls). Earnshaw missed time with another hamstring injury earlier this season, though he said that it was the other hamstring that was tweaked on Wednesday.

The goal was Toronto’s first sign of life in the match after a listless opening 20 minutes for both sides. Chicago opened the scoring in the 20th minute when Dilly Duka lofted a chip shot of a pass towards Mike Magee, who was racing to the front of net. The ball, however, fell in front of Magee without him touching it and bounced over goalkeeper Joe Bendik for one of the easier goals Duka will score in his career.

TFC’s slow start could’ve been attributed to the mid-week game just four days after playing in across the continent in Portland. Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry and Jonathan Osorio had even more reason to be fatigued, as all three were back after playing the majority of the game for Canada in a friendly with Mauritania in Spain on Sunday.

Despite the short week, all three internationals played the full 90 minutes and generally looked none the worse for wear.

“I feel all right. The jet lag didn’t hit me much on the way back, it hit me more on the way there, I was very jet-lagged,” Osorio said. “But I felt good today in the game and now I’ve got to get ready for Saturday.”

Henry will receive some extra rest time, as the defender will be suspended for yellow-card accumulation on Saturday after picking up a booking in stoppage time. It was a poor foul for Henry and a sour end to an otherwise respectable game for the young centre back.

As usual, Nelsen saw mostly positives for his side, noting how they were unlucky to not score more and overall showed better form than a Chicago team that is fighting for the playoffs.

“We’re the team that should’ve been falling over, not making those runs and working hard considering our position and their position. If you’d been a neutral watching the game… you wouldn’t have known who was pushing for the playoff spot,” Nelsen said.

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One Comment

  1. Colin Freebury

    September 12, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Here’s hoping that the players who failed to pass (or score) on 1v2s don’t overcompensate by passing when they should be shooting!

    The worst of the four was the player not passing the ball to Dike on his right. Would’ve been a great story if Dike had scored on his debut.

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