Two big question marks are the biggest story in TFC’s disappointing 1 – 0 CONCACAF Champions League loss Tuesday night in La Chorrera, Panama. Toronto FC went into the match needing a single point to put them into an envious position in their four team group. They missed their chance against an Arabe Unido team that certainly looked beatable.
Given the situation, coach Preki’s player deployment was incomprehensible. He selected a starting lineup that included:third string keeper, Miro Kocic, marginal third string defender Ty Harden, consistently underperforming striker O’Brien White, light weight teenage striker Fuad Ibrahim and Gabe Gala, a midfielder still looking to find his place.
The result was a team lacking continuity, unable to keep possession of the ball. A match calling out for someone to take charge. A Julian de Guzman who did not, could not get involved. Someone to supply a spark. Dwayne De Rosario and Mista, the man who showed his worth one week ago against Cruz Azul were sitting on the bench. So was Dan Gargan whose performance and versatility make him the new find of the year. So was Jon Conway, the only keeper on the team who understands the importance of distribution and not just shot stopping.
The coach’s failure to take this match seriously is clearly question mark number one. That he elected to put some unspoken personal matter ahead of the team by sanctioning Mista should not be acceptable to anyone. Might be the coach is affecting the entire team attitude.
The other question mark hovers over the el Salvadoreno refereeing crew. CONCACAF’S failure to take this match seriously by providing capable referees only complicated an already bad situation. Excessive foul calls, dives and melodramatic time wasting “injuries” robbed the match fluidity and pace. Toronto received two questionable red cards to finish with nine men.
As for the match details, there is not much to be said.
Tuesday night in Panama was far from the beautiful game.