TFC Troubles

Alex Karageorgos


0-8. Currently, there is nowhere to go but up.

TFC set the Major League Soccer record for consecutive
losses to start off a season at eight games. The previous record was held by the
Kansas City Wizards who lost seven to begin their 1999 campaign.

To win in soccer, teams must play with two mindsets:
offensive and defensive. Unfortunately, for Toronto FC, neither of those
mindsets seems to exist.

The team has a league worst goal differential which sits
at -12, scoring 6 and conceding 18. That is a goal for average of 0.75 per game
and a goal against average of 2.25 per game.

When the Dutch Duo, Head Coach, Aron Winter, and First
Assistant Coach, Bob de Klerk, took over the reins of the club, both hoped to
implement the Barcelona style of play, better known as the Tiki Taka system of
football, European football that is.

Tiki Taka is the discipline of soccer that Barcelona FC,
one of the premier club teams in the world, plays by: passing short, moving
quick and keeping possession, the complete opposite of what TFC has displayed
so far.

Choppy distribution of the ball between the defenders,
midfielders and strikers has led to the Reds’ disharmonious form on the pitch. Winter
was under siege by the media who criticized his approach because the team does
not have the quality to apply such an advanced system.

But by the looks of it, Winter is sticking to his initial
plan: “I want to bring in an identity, a way how to play attractive football
and also win games… I still believe in it. It’s hard [but] I’m not worried, I’m
not thinking about the future, I’m thinking about this moment. What can we
change to get those points?”

Well, Mr. Winter, it’s not a matter of changing, it’s a
matter of maintaining, especially with the starting line-up. Winter
consistently experiments with the starting eleven which leaves no room for the
foundation of team chemistry. This reacts negatively with the elements he has
at his disposal. A make-shift backline, a mediocre midfield and a weary striking
force attributes to a combustible outcome.

This combustible outcome correlates to inconsistent runs
TFC have been prone to in their six years of existence.

Another astonishing aspect of Toronto’s woes is that they
are one of three teams in the MLS to have all three designated-player spots
filled. However, these designated players are not performing to their anticipated
calibre of play.

Julian de Guzman, who was signed by Toronto FC in
September 2009, has one year left on his three-year deal worth 1.9 million
dollars annually.  Winter and de Klerk
planned on building the team around JDG as the projected franchise player.
However, time in and time out, when crucial opportunities arisen to obtain a
point or three, the so-called franchise player, the leader, was anything but.

JDG had this to say on the team’s poor on-field
performances: “We’re walking on eggshells, once it cracks everything just falls
apart. And that shouldn’t happen at home… losing this many in a row is very
depressing and it’s very hard to live with as a player and I’m sure as a fan as

To help take the pressure off of de Guzman’s tiny shoulders,
Winter made the twin signings of Dutch striker, Danny Koevermans, and German
midfielder, Torsten Frings, arriving on the scene midway through the 2011
season for 2.5 million dollars each. Both signings propelled the team into
excellent late-season form, losing just two of their last
12 games. This run could not contend for playoff soccer because a poor start plagued
TFC’s chances.

This year, the twin signings have missed a combined total
of four games played due to injury problems. A big blow for Winter who is
already working with a short bench to begin with.

TFC are currently 12 points out of the last playoff spot with
28 games left on their schedule. There is still a lot of soccer to be played,
but is the gap already too wide to close? If history is any indication, it is.

On the cusp of every new season, the club (MLSE in
particular), use false advertisement to lure fans, like myself, into buying
tickets with the premise of finally clinching a playoff berth for the first
time in franchise history.
Unfortunately, fans have blinding optimism for the team: we hope for
them to be good, but in reality, they are far from it.

Toronto FC are the best at being the worst.