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Easy to Scorn, Tough to Love
In this horror show season, pessimists and cynics have delighted in stirring up a thriving party of negativity. As my own grumpiness over the Winter wipeout, and Mariner ascension, have subsided, I am trying to wipe the slate clean and give TFC (the players) some slack.
The past two road games, in Kansas City and Houston, offered reasons to hope for more. Mariner’s 4-4-2 may have improved midfield defending some, and it definitely has given the team an emotional boost.
Ultimately futile and overshadowed by the management change, the Kansas City match demonstrated the team has some remaining willingness to fight. The contest in Houston was much better news, despite the mediocre outcome.
That is a good sign. For a team mired in off-field controversies, on-field focus and utility are the best things to clutch to in riding out these dark days.
The Houston match was practically intoxicating for its first two thirds. The final 20 minutes showed the Dynamo to be the better side and highlighted the Reds lingering issues.
That TFC choked away a two goal road lead can’t be that surprising. The Henry-Eckersley pairing in central defense didn’t help in the clutch. And, of course, neither did the heat. A short bench, and an unfortunate Lambe for de Guzman substitution also contributed to that unwinding.
Still, excuses aside, there was lots to cheer about in the midweek performance in Texas, especially on individual levels.
Jeremy Hall has been an outstanding addition to the roster so far this season. His athletic ability and consistency moving up and down the field has been impressive. He’s had his lapses too of course. But, on a team guilty of many such gaps and gaffes, Hall’s haven’t been the worst or most worrisome.
As long as the Reds are scoring there is some hope of winning. Danny Koevermanns has had a dry start to 2012, hampered by injury and off-field dramas. A two goal game in Texas was a good sign of his return to chief of finishing. Another performance like that, in front of a crowd at BMO, would certainly raise my spirits and enthusiasm for the remainder of the season.
Julian de Guzman has been consistently at his best (at least by his TFC standard) this year. And his pairing in the midfield with Frings has been good overall. The moments where Silva and Avila have found space to be creative and attack-minded have also shown glimmers of possibility. I’d like to think that this is still a good long-term prospect for the Reds, given the relative youth and inexperience of these creative distributors.
Back line injuries and inconsistency aside, it’s the attacking game in the new formation that has me concerned. In KC, it looked a bit hapless. In Houston, we had our first taste of a game where the ball bounced our way mulitple times. We also saw our first instance of TFC actually scoring on the chances they created. I’d like to think it was a case of having to be good to be lucky.
The good news is that it won’t take much to get fans cheering now. In a season of groan-worthy, head-smacking futility and organizational implosion, every goal scored will be joyous event. Each point earned from here on will be victory-dance inspiring.
How I long for a heap of goals and solid drubbing of the resurgent New England Revolution today. It could be the corner the Reds need in turning this season into something we can all get behind.
I don’t need an MLS Cup. I don’t need a run at the CCL finals. I just need a team that is firing on all cylinders and fighting the good fight.
C'mon you Reds. We stand with you. Now. As always.