Weve had a couple days to sit back and reflect on Toronto FC
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Messaggio Gio Set 05, 08:07:52 Rispondi citando

Weve had a couple days to sit back and reflect on Toronto FCs first setback of the early season. Neither the performance, nor the scoreline flatters in the 3-0 loss at Real Salt Lake Saturday. It was always going to be a difficult match against MLS Cup runners-up and a team with minimal roster change year over year. Certain flaws were exposed and much work remains for a team in transition. On the surface, a 3-0 loss to the casual fan or someone who didnt see Saturdays match may suggest, ‘same old TFC. Thats hardly the case. TFC has experienced its fair share of lopsided results in recent years with the vast majority reflective of a lack of quality and the gulf in talent that existed between competitors. Saturdays loss was more about Real Salt Lake taking advantage of TFC mistakes than any lopsided pedigree between rosters. Team cohesion and familiarity also skewed in favour of the home side. And even while on the back-foot for most of their visit to Rio Tinto, Toronto remained dangerous to the end and is certainly no longer a team you can take a lead against and rest on your laurels. Theres no reason to lose excitement about what this team can be based upon this one performance alone. However, lessons were learned and improvement is required. Here are five thoughts on Toronto FCs loss at Real Salt Lake. 1. Jermain Problem Striker Jermain Defoe left the match in the 62nd minute and headed straight to the locker room, clutching his hamstring. Gulp. Head Coach Ryan Nelsen commented post-match, “He was feeling the hamstring before the game and it tightened up.” Defoe had a ‘slight hamstring issue at Tottenham before joining Toronto FC. The severity of Defoes most recent potential setback has not been revealed. Regardless of the severity, Toronto FC must proceed with caution. Hamstrings are tricky and, if not dealt with appropriately, can linger and lead to extended spells on the sidelines. The extensive travel and varying playing surfaces across Major League Soccer put exceptional wear and tear on the body. Durability is key for Defoe and it will take time to adjust to the conditions of North American football. The team needs a healthy Defoe to be considered among MLS elite. The pre-season injury loss of Bright Dike complicates matters more, leaving TFC all-too thin up front. So the inclination will be to play Defoe as soon as hes deemed relatively fit. Theres no need to play hero and play through the injury. The season is a marathon. The long view must be the priority with TFCs prized possession. 2. Difficult Night for Doneil Centre back Doneil Henry was among TFCs top players in the first two games. The 20-year old has all the qualities to be a top defender in MLS, but Saturday was tough for him and his partner in the middle of the back four, Steven Caldwell. Henry was the culprit for the penalty leading to RSLs opening goal. A harmless, lazy ball was played to the feet of RSL striker Alvaro Saborio at the top corner of the 18; an innocent one-vs-one situation with the attackers back to goal. Instead of taking a step back and focusing on position, Henry came through the back of the player with his arms wrapped around Saborio trying to get to the ball. The striker went to the ground, making for an easy point to the penalty spot for match official Baldomero Toledo. It was an unnecessary, sloppy challenge from Henry, showing shades of last season when he had the unbecoming habit of diving in and/or over-committing to challenges at inopportune times in vulnerable areas. The time, place and execution of this challenge gone wrong was all amiss. Theres much to like about Henrys commitment, aggressiveness and enthusiasm, but he has to pick his spots. Henry has the athleticism to cover a lot of ground, meaning he can afford to take an extra step back and gain superior position while still being aggressive in challenges. Superior defensive positioning and proper decision-making will come with further maturity, experience and direction. Henry will be just fine and a key cog in this Toronto FC team. Mistakes like this are part of the process a young player goes through. 3. Flaws in Defensive Execution High pressure can be a teams best and worst enemy. Nelsens team has shown the desire and commitment to put all kinds of pressure on the ball, all over the field. Its often a high risk, high reward proposition, but can leave a team vulnerable if a solid defensive shape doesnt hold true. Toronto FC lost its defensive balance against a crafty Real Salt Lake midfield diamond that regularly found space between TFCs centre midfield duo and the backline. Javier Morales at the top of the diamond found freedom in the gaps, leaving Torontos defenders not knowing whether to step forward and commit or fall back to cover. Nelsens 4-4-2 isnt to blame for the breakdown, though - the problem was in execution. If Toronto FC is going to continue to put constant high pressure on the ball, the centre backs need to keep the formation compact to condense the space and provide more support to the centre midfielders. When Michael Bradley commits to the pressure on the ball, the space behind needs to be limited. Of concern for Nelsen, as he tries to get his team working in unison, is a speed deficiency at certain defensive positions. If the defenders arent confident they can make up ground, leaving space in behind, the tactical formation will fall apart. The hope is superior execution of high pressure defensive play will come in time, as this new-look roster grows accustomed to tendencies and the strengths and weaknesses of their new teammates. 4. Jackson Leaves a Hole It came as somewhat of a surprise that Mark Bloom, starting right back in Torontos first two wins, moved forward to play outside right midfield with Jackson suspended. Bradley Orr slotted in at right back, which seems to be the longer term plan once the Englishman finds full fitness. Bloom did a nice job as an outside defender to start the season, but an outside midfielder, he is not. It speaks to the lack of depth at the position that Nelsen chose to deputize Bloom at it. Right midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran made his MLS debut as a 59th-minute substitute. Whether hes suited for this league and can be effective is still to be determined, but based upon TFCs lack of options, hell get every look possible. TFC cannot afford to continually have a fullback playing a forward position. It wasnt as if Nakajima-Farrans introduction that led to Toronto FC having success down the flanks. It was more the fullbacks pushing forward than influence from the outside of the midfield. Regardless, proper role definition leads to a level of comfort and greater fluidity. The team will have to find more depth at the wing positions or consistent build up will be sacrificed. 5. Keep the Ball! To nobodys surprise, Real Salt Lake dominated in possession, managing 63 per cent of the ball in the contest. This marks the third straight week TFC have been short in possession. TFC may never be a dominant ball possession team, able to boss the proceedings, but they have to be much better. Poor field conditions and inconsistent surfaces, combined with unfamiliarity with new teammates are certainly excuses, but its too many long balls out of the back and not enough service to the feet of the strikers that are ultimately responsible. Defoe, Gilberto and Dwayne De Rosario are forward players who demand the ball at their feet. Having the trio chase down searching balls, while regularly competing in aerial battles, is a waste and hardly how to get the most out of the talent. It starts at the back, but the build through the midfield has a ways to go. This is a work in progress. Keeping the ball and playing along the ground with quality is paramount in the growth of the team. Toronto FC is next in action on Saturday when it the visits the Columbus Crew. You can catch all of the action live on TSN 1050 at 4pm et.
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. Mark Van Guilder, Austin Watson and Colton Sissons also scored for the Admirals (22-13-10), who are 2-0-2 in their last four outings, while Roussel tacked on an assist for a two-point night. Greg Pateryn scored once for the Bulldogs (20-22-4), who lost their fifth straight contest, and also assisted on Gabriel Dumonts goal.
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. Russell Wilson against Darrelle Revis, former teammate Brandon Browner and whatever schemes Bill Belichick dreams up.
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.C. Lions 35-14, was named the CFLs offensive player of the week Tuesday. Sheets recorded his ninth 100-yard rushing performance of the season to tie the Riders club record.
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.J. -- John Elway says Peyton Manning cannot stamp himself as the greatest quarterback in NFL history even if he wins the Super Bowl on Sunday.
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.D. Martinezs ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Torii Hunter with the winning run and the Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 Sunday.CLEVELAND - Hours after the Browns switched starting quarterbacks, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James stood at his locker following a win rocking a Money Manziel T-shirt.You know I know timing, James quipped.The Browns hope theirs is right, too.Johnny Manziel, the stage is yours.The hyped rookie, who depending on whom you talk to is either the NFLs next big thing or everything thats wrong with todays athlete, will make his first career start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.With their offence sputtering and their playoff hopes wilting, the Browns (7-6) are handing the ball to Manziel.And once hes got it, anything is possible.If something breaks down he runs around and makes a play, Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said. That can be a huge spark for any team when you have a quarterback who can extend plays the way he does. Im excited to see what he can do. Hopefully he can lead us to where we want to go because I think our goal is still out there.Manziel will take the knowledge he has gathered from spending months learning as a backup behind Brian Hoyer, who helped make the Browns relevant again before it seems the pressure of playing in his hometown, trying to earn a new contract and having Johnny Football over his shoulder became too much.The Browns drafted Manziel with an eye toward the future, and its here.Sure, hes a social media sensation and a star to a young generation of fans, but theres no denying Manziels ability to drop thousands of jaws in a packed stadium and keep defensive co-ordinators up at night.At Texas A&M, he ran a simple offence that consisted of Manziel mostly taking the snap in the shotgun. If his receivers were covered, Manziel would spin, duck, jump, whatever he had to do to buy time until they got open. If they didnt, he took off running to avoid a sack.Browns offensive co-ordinator Kyle Shanahan is expected to utilize Manziels unique skillset.Im excited to see what he can do, Im not going to lie to you, said Browns defensive co-ordinator Jim ONeil, who has only had to deal with Manziel in practice.Everybody in the building can feel the buzz. Everybody cant wait to get to Sunday. Im glad I dont have to defend it. It can be a major headache.The Bengals (8-4-1) lead the AFC North, but to keep it theyll have to control Manziel, which wont be easy.The challenge is even if you do get a good rush on him, he has the ability to make you miss in the pockeet, Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap said.dddddddddddd King of like (Tony) Romo and some of those guys who are good in the pocket. But at the end of the day, he is still a rookie.Besides Manziel, here are some other things to watch as the Browns go for a season sweep over their Ohio neighbours:WHAT ABOUT ANDY? Bengals QB Andy Dalton had one of his worst games during the 24-3 loss to the Browns on Nov. 6. He completed 10 passes, threw three interceptions and had a career-low passer rating of 2.0. In four games since, he has completed 70 per cent of his passes with seven touchdowns, four interceptions and a combined passer rating of 101.3.JOHNNY TARGET: All the hype about Manziel has made him a marked man.I guarantee that anyone who sacks him will stand over him and give the money sign, Browns coach Mike Pettine said. Thats the price that he has to pay for who he is and the reputation that he brings with him to the NFL. He already got a taste of it in the preseason.During an exhibition at Washington, Manziel flipped his middle finger toward the Redskins sideline in response to their taunts.Pettine said hell remind his quarterback about keeping his composure.TOOTHLESS CATS: Manziel will be making his starting debut against a defence that has only two sacks in the past five games. The Bengals gave up 543 yards against Pittsburgh, the third time this season theyve allowed more than 500 in a game, a franchise record. Theyre on pace to give up 6,000 yards for only the second time in franchise history.ROAD TESTED: The Bengals have won three straight road games since being shut out 27-0 at Indianapolis. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis isnt sure what prompted the turnaround.Whether its home or away youve got to focus in and play, he said. Sometimes, on the road youre mentality just seems as though the focus is good.A.J. AND JOE: Bengals receiver A.J. Green is in one of the best stretches of his career now that hes recovered from an injured big right toe. He had 12 catches during a win at Houston, 11 for a career-high 224 yards last Sunday. The Bengals will try to get him the ball a lot against Cleveland, which has limited him better than any team with cornerback Joe Haden covering him most of the time. In the past two games against the Browns, Green has been held to a total of five catches for 30 yards.___Online:AP NFL website:
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