By: Michael Newell
For anyone who watched TFC’s lacklustre loss to DC United on Saturday afternoon you could tell that something was off, broken if you will. Put aside the fact that the Reds lost to the worst team in the league, or that they dropped more important playoff points; The most disappointing thing about Saturday and even back to Wednesday night against Chicago is that you realized this team is just not good enough. The quality on the pitch is just not there and when you look at the players available for selection there really isn’t any match winners on the squad, and I would even throw Dwayne De Rosario in that mix.
I should point out that I’m not questioning the team’s work rate as I do believe that they play hard for Preki and they put forth a good effort, however a team with an excellent work rate and no quality goes nowhere. For myself the low was on Wednesday night, for a lack of a better term the squad was god awful in the final third of the field. Should TFC have been awarded 2 penalties in the first half? probably yes, but it does not excuse the fact that at no point in the game did they really look at a threat to score. The work rate during the game was there, but there seemed to be a disconnect between the players. It’s not the first time there has been a breakdown in team chemistry, at the beginning of the season the squad had a hard time gelling. However it’s now September and we have less than a month left in the season and squad look as lost as they did in April, something needs to change…
So where does the responsibility lay? The easiest place to start is the coach, Preki was brought in to make the playoffs plain and simple. At the end of last season after the club’s most humiliating loss to the Henry, Marquezless bottom of the league feeding New York Red Bull 5-0 the club embarked on a mission the find a MLS experienced disciplined manager. The statement made was clear 2010 was expected to be a playoff year. At Preki’s hiring news conference, he warned that the club would take time to develop under him, but that the goal was the playoffs.[picappgallerysingle id=”9736023″]
So is he the man that should bare the brunt of the blame? No of course not.
The club has improved by leaps and bounds in the defensive department since his appointment. Consider last year that the team leaked goals all over the place especially in the last 15 minutes of games, this season they have only allowed 5 goals in the final 15. He has also improved the fitness and work rate of the club as mentioned above. TFC in the past have been criticized for not always fighting as hard as they should during tough matches. For the most part this season TFC have been the harder working team on the pitch which in turn helped the team on the 11 match unbeaten streak earlier this summer. Preki has also been able to work in some of the young players to the first team in cup matches. This will go a long way in improving the squad for the future.
With all that said Preki has been unable to help improve the team’s biggest issue which is goal scoring. It’s hard to lay this on at his feet but as the manager he needs to put out his best attacking players and place them in positions to create chances and score. At times he has failed to do this and it leaves the club in the position they’re in now, struggling to finds important goals in important games.
With that said I believe Preki should stay as head coach. I believe that he will lead TFC to the playoffs but he needs better pieces to work with in order to accomplish this, which leads us to the guilty party.
General Manager Mo Johnston has been with the club since it’s inception in 2007 and since then he has been responsible for bringing in players for the squad. Johnston has also from the beginning brought in low quality players to fill roster space, and then paying they way too much. TFC are currently brushing up near the salary cap, which wouldn’t such a big deal but considering the lack of quality compared to their salaries and it has become a bit of an albatross for the club.
The blame has to rest on his shoulders, he built this team, he offered and approved the contracts (Though MLSE brass also shares some blame as well). During the same Preki hiring press conference, Johnston stated that if the team did not make the playoffs he would resign from the club. As it stands right now TFC still have a shot of making it, but their destiny is now out of their hands as they must rely on other teams dropping points to have a chance. Realistically it is hard to see them taking the final playoff spot so as far as I’m concerned trader Mo is gone, provided he’s a man of his word.
In the 4 years of TFC ‘s existence, he has not improved either the quality of the squad or it’s results. Now much of that goes to the players, but it’s the GM that signs them in the first place. He’s brought in poor players, out shape players, bad apples and bench warmers.
I can’t knock every signing though, De Rosario, Amado Guevara and drafting Stephan Frei were positive signings, but even signing Julian De Guzman as the first club designated player has not been the best of deals. De Guzman has has flashes of brilliant play mixed in with some serious inconsistency. Mista’s signing as the second DP is still a work in progress, but with signs that he’s already butted heads with Preki in the locker room do not look good.
At the end of the season, the TFC brass will have to take a good hard look at where this team is going and why it has failed to make a serious impact in the league. Every position in the organization has to be evaluated and I hate to say it…people will lose their jobs. The person that should be at the top of that list is Mo Johnston, the club needs fresh ideas on player recruitment and development and Mo just cannot provide that. I’ve met Mo on a few occasions in press scrums and he is a very nice man approachable man, which is why it will be difficult to see him leave as he truly has TFC’s best interests at heart. However even Mo will agree that he may just be fresh out of ideas.