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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Canuck Corner – While TFC Rebuild, Whitecaps Build a Reputation

Written by on April 4, 2011 | 7 Comments »
Posted in Toronto FC, Vancouver Whitecaps

Toronto FC 1-1 Chivas

At some point rebuilding is going to stop being an acceptable (by some) reason for the performances from Toronto FC and Chivas and just be viewed as an excuse. But that is still a few weeks away.

As it is, if either of these sides gets even close to a play-off place this season it will be a major surprise and and incredible performance.

This match was so bad that when looking at the game statistics I expected possession to be split 50/50 – as each team spent most of the game giving the ball back to the other.

A draw was a fair result as neither deserved to win.  The Chivas goal from Moreno came from Toronto failing to deal with a routine Chivas attack. The ball was initially cleared but it came right back and after the ball broke in the penalty box Moreno was the first to react as he burst past Toronto centre back Adrian Cann.

The Toronto equalizer from was one of the few moments of quality. A free kick delivery from Jacob Peterson was swung in towards the Chivas goal and Alan Gordon just needed his flicked header to hit the target in order to score.

Just before half-time Toronto had a go-ahead goal chalked off after Maicon Santos was judged offside. The decision was a close one but replays showed that the referee’s assistant made the correct call.

Maicon Santos was again the centre of attention in the second half on account of an incredible miss. He did all the hard stuff but fluffed the final touch and rolled to ball wide of an empty net – a low light reel classic.

Overall Chivas passed the ball a bit better than Toronto but they were very lightweight, particularly in midfield. Too often they came out on the wrong end of tackles and challenges and they will need to add some strength in the midfield area or they will find themselves being continually overrun by other MLS sides.

Finally a nod to Heath Pearce of Chivas and Stefan Frei of Toronto FC  as stand oust in this match. Pearce with his touch and reading of the game from the centre back position and Frei for his handling, distribution and overall demeanour behind the Toronto back four.    

Vancouver Whitecaps 3-3 Sporting Kansas City

Matches are often made up of contradictions and so it was in this game. Vancouver overjoyed with a 3-3 draw after trailing 3-0 but they should never have been in such a position; Sporting Kansas City feeling the exact opposite; Jimmy Nielsen spectacular in the Sporting KC goal but was scored on three times.

It was an open game with both teams playing at a good tempo and trying to play through the midfield. If there was a fault to be picked it would be that during the first forty five minutes both sides tended to be overly focused on the centre of the midfield with the wide areas often being neglected.

This particularly the case with Sporting KC with both Stojcev and  Arnaud both looking far more comfortable tucking in with Diop in the centre. In fact Sporting lacked width throughout although their third goal did come from a move down the left side.

As half time approached both teams looked as if they would be happy going in at the break scoreless. However, that was when Teal Bunbury struck. His first goal was of the highest quality – perhaps better defenders would not have offered him as much space – and if scored by someone like Thierry Henry the wires and chatboards would be red hot.

His second was not bad either although Vancouver’s defending was certainly a factor. The third goal from Sporting came shortly after but the 3-0 lead did not reflect the play up to that point. Worth noting was the involvement of Milos Stojcev in at least two of the three Sporting KC goals.

It is early days yet but Stojcev appears to have an eye for a killer pass and constantly looks to play the ball forwards rather than shirking responsibility and playing square.

Key to the Whitecaps getting back into the match was the decision by Teitur Thordarson to first put on Nizar Khalfan and then minutes later Davide Chumiento. The two-footed Khalfan went out to the left side and proceeded to cause the Sporting defence all sorts of problems – in particular Sporting right back Michael Harrington.

Chumiento came to the right side and suddenly spaces opened up and Vancouver Whitecaps grew in confidence. Although it may sound strange but what seem to have helped the Whitecaps was although they were 3-0 down they had not played badly.

Khalfan set up Harris to peg the score back to 3-1 but it took until added time for Vancouver to score their second. Dunfield played a nice ball inside the Sporting full back and Chumiento showed some composure as he then cut the ball back to Camilo for the second goal.

The equalizer – again from Camilo – was set up again by Khalfan.

Although the focus will understandably be on the finish to the match the truth is that it was an entertaining and well played game throughout – especially when you consider that both sides were missing their two main strikers through suspension.

Whitecaps fans should also be encouraged by their coach’s willingness to change his approach when faced with a problem and the capacity of the team to play in a different way when circumstances require it.

There is every reason to believe that these two teams will score goals this season and we can only hope that they do not sacrifice attack in order to shore up their defences.

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7 responses to “Canuck Corner – While TFC Rebuild, Whitecaps Build a Reputation”

  1. Michael Summerlin says:

    Hi. I apologize as I know this does not relate directly to this article, but I wanted to make a comment and felt that this needs to be said. Or at least just let out…

    Okay, Wayne Rooney has been charged by the ‘glorious’ FA for what… “Foul and Abusive Language”?? I heard it was only for his goal celebration, but kept hearing on Saturday and Sunday that it had something to do with his language. My question is….
    When was there NOT Foul and Abusive Language at an English Football match?????? Or even any Football match for that matter?

    I live in the US and have watched the different leagues around Europe since 2004, and I cannot remember a time even then that someone didn’t call someone something. And I know that MANY, MANY times players and refs have been told to F… OFF over and over again. That was something you could see on television when they did close-ups after a bad call or someone didn’t get his way and his feelings were hurt!!!! Now all of a sudden Wayne Rooney does something and ‘ he needs to be punished and taught a lesson that it won’t be tolerated! ‘ ???? Now excuse me, but WTF?? When someone gets told to F… OFF next weekend are they going to do the same thing to that person? I DOUBT IT VERY MUCH!!!! If they did that every weekend, there would be maybe one or two players left on the pitch by halftime!! So, really…what has gotten into the ‘glorious’ FA lately?!?! (and being in the US, I am allowed to call them the ‘glorious’ FA….LMFAO) Has the FA decided that since they “lost” or were robbed of the hosting for the World Cup, they are going to take it out on the people who will actually TAKE NO SHIT from them????? Or did they take a vote and decide that if they could clean up all the Football Leagues it would prove to FIFA that they deserved the next World Cup they bid on?

    Either way, I CANNOT wait to see what the FA does over the Summer and has ready for next season!! I am sure it will be a Hoot or at least a Rooney. :))

    Again, I apologize that this wasn’t related directly to this article. Thank You for your time, Michael.

  2. Danh says:

    Do you think that the Whitecaps has what it take to emulate what the Sounders did as an expansion team? Watching them, I think it could be the first year hype.

  3. Danh – I don’t know if I would call it hype based on their performances. Hype is normally a description for something that is talked upped but has no substance.

    I think they have made some astute player moves – maybe a play off position might be too much but I cannot see too many teams rolling over them.

    They have some options in terms of style and formation and you don’t see that too often with expansion sides.

  4. Russell Berrisford says:

    The Whitecaps have been much better than I thought they would be (still early days I know) but, as you say, Thordason seems to have a flexibility (and the players at hand to allow this) that is very encouraging.

  5. Danh says:

    Point taken Bobby, but I feel that the Sounders have something special that maybe the Whitecaps lack (maybe now and not later) during their inaugural season. Or I maybe I am giving the Sounders too much credit. But a playoff spot and the US Cup is something special, at least for a newly franchised team.

  6. Danh says:

    FYI, do you think San Diego will ever get an expansion team? I remember listening to World Football Daily (back when) where maybe Chivas USA could migrate south, but nothing have materialize.

  7. John Bladen says:

    Bobby;

    The TFC/Chivas game certainly wasn’t a high point… but to give Santos the benefit of the doubt, I thought Boyens just got a toe in and knocked the ball away as Santos tried to tap it in. There’s no excuse for not passing to Stefanovic, nor for the wide deke on goal that allowed Boyens the chance to close in. But unless my aging eyes deceived me, it looked like a good defensive play rather than an absolute howler from Santos.

    Re: the Whitecaps, they were always going to be better than TFC given the troubles Toronto have had. That said, I don’t believe even the most ardent fan should be putting the champers on ice just yet… There are a number of clubs in MLS who seem to be badly underperforming through the first couple of weeks. I would expect most of them to be ahead of Vancouver when October comes. Still, a great start by the Whitecaps. And that fan base seems fully energized, which is nice to see.

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