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Woeful TFC is punished in Panama

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Sure, Toronto FC could win the second leg 5-0, and every Reds fan can sit back and laugh about this one.

But,  wow, it’s hard to remember a Toronto FC performance as bad as this one, as the Reds were hammered 4-0 by Independiente in Panama Tuesday in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie.

Maybe that Juan Pablo Angel night at Giants Stadium is the only match in TFC history that can compare in terms of everything going wrong for the Reds. But, wow, the fans in Panama were treated to an absolutely dominating performance from the home side. Meanwhile, Toronto FC, like the person who puts his hand on the burner, goes “ow!” and then proceeds to put his hand back on the burner, kept making the same defensive mistakes over and over. It’s bad enough that TFC made mistakes; it’s unforgivable that the team didn’t learn from them.  

It was like this: “Wow, the quick counterattack of CAI is killing us, they’re getting behind the back line over and over.”
“Well, let’s play the line even higher. And let’s let the centre backs separate even a little more.”

There was no cohesion between centre backs Laurent Ciman and Chris Mavinga, CAI forwards consistently got behind the back line, and yet they both pushed way up the field like riverboat gamblers. Auro looked to invent the position, fullback-who-pushes-forward-the-cheats-to-middle-of-field-and-doesn’t-run-back, and was regularly watching the back of CAI speedster’s Ivey Romeesh’s jersey. 

Basically, TFC was caught with its pants down, and decided not to even try and pull them back up.

Mavinga was caught not getting ball side to his mark early in the game, and Abdiel Ayarza was able to chest down a cross from Ivey Romeesh and finish neatly in the corner of the goal.

Romeesh then missed a close-in chance, blasting wide after getting further ahead of Auro than a Mercedes shooting past a Sauber.

But TFC got a lifeline and the chance to the game near the half-hour mark, when CAI defender Gerardo Negrete decided to tackle Ciman in the penalty area. Terrence Boyd, TFC’s much ballyhooed American signing, stepped to the spot and put the ball through the uprights. Problem is, soccer doesn’t have uprights. It has a goal. And this shot was nowhere near the goal.

Buoyed by the let-off, CAI finished the contest early in the second half. First off, forward Omar Browne stepped around a sprawling Ciman and unleashed a dipping shot from outside of the box that caught TFC keeper Alex Bono flat-footed.

It was 3-0 shortly after, when Romeesh deposited the ball in an open goal after an initial break by teammate Jorman Aguilar.

Romeesh made it a brace when he got behind the TFC backline, and this came after Browne knocked a free kick off the bar.

The post-Giovinco era started off in the worst possible way for the Reds, and the sky-is-falling crowd will become the told-you-so crowd for the next week, at least.

But, even with Jozy Altidore out of the lineup, TFC had enough veteran presence in the lineup to at least hold their own in Panama. But that didn’t happen. The back line, as a whole, was caught ball-watching and flat-footed. The Reds didn’t learn from early mistakes. The Reds didn’t adjust. They came in woefully underprepared and, well, it looked like no one there had even kicked a ball in preseason.

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