A roller coaster ride, this one. United opened strong, stringing together passes and marching up the field with authority. The visitors were on their heels for the first 15 – 20 minutes or so, after which United’s flow and attack petered out, reduced to blah blah long balls over the top, and blah blah blah lack of sustained possession. Correlation? Causation? The blahs continued into the second half, where TFC came out fighting and United, as it has all too often, was hung over and drowsy after the break. Give them coffee Tommy! (And please, no Red Bull.) United woke up for the last twenty minutes, but for a handball in the box they would have lost the game, and that would have felt like a catastrophe. As it was, it felt like an unnecessary, but at least entertaining, tie.
TALON RATING: 2 out of 5 birds
The starting lineup was a source of some anxiety, but the coach needed to rotate his players, so we’ll give him a break for once. Despite starting Kocic over Crayton (this is not a dig in hindsight—Crayton deserves to start, unless the braintrust has already decided to unload him), there wasn’t too much to criticize Soehn over in terms of personnel and substitutions. I'd rather he'd have kept in N'Silu, who was energetic and effective, and taken out Emilio, who looked like he needed a break.
During warm-ups before the game, Louis Crayton wandered over to the Toronto side of the pitch while Kocic was practicing in the net. Crayton seemed to pause for a while, then wandered back in the direction of the clock, looking, from his posture and body language, uncharacteristically down. He then struck a ball with great force from 30 yards out, and it flew far over the goal. Mrs. Curmudgeon and I debated whether he was frustrated because he was about to be benched or just getting focused for the game. Then he came out with the reserve top on and sat down at the end of the bench on his own. Poor Louis.
Kocic had a miscue in the first half that would foreshadow later issues. Truth be told he wasn’t terrible at all, but I’d like to think Crayton would have saved one goal (which begs the question of the goal Crayton might have given away on his own). Tino couldn’t deliver an early mother’s day present, although he had one corking, curving shot. Like the last couple of times he’s played, Quaranta would run hard, find himself in dangerous positions with the ball, and then send a wayward pass or cross into touch to kill another attack. Could he be trying too hard?
A couple of times in the first, Gomez would be wide-open waiving his arms for the ball, but to no avail. At one time in particular he was perfectly positioned to release Emilio at the top of Toronto’s 18, and he was screaming for attention. Someone, Jakovic I think, just didn’t see him. Toward the end of the game Gomito still seemed to have his legs and was playing with a lot of heart. Good for him.
If United ends the season far apart from TFC on the table, then this game won’t have been a big deal. But if we’re battling them down the stretch for a playoff spot, then oh, my . . .