A quarter of the way into the season TFC show no sign of playing the new system Coach Aron Winter and staff are touting. There is a growing camp with explanation for the shabby start to the season. The basis of their argument is simple. If you do not have capable players on the roster, you don’t have a system.
Regardless what one thinks about the capability of the players, no one should ever see the kind of result Toronto turned in at Seattle Saturday night. The 3 – 0 score line could have been much worse. It was not until the 81st minute TFC mustered an effort to test Seattle keeper Kasey Keller, but the match was over long before that.
The result illustrates lots of confusion that has grown worse, not better as the season progresses.
There is no doubt Toronto FC has, at long last, a solid plan in place. Team management has a vision and from the way they tie their training shoes to the way they knot their tie, that management projects an image of sharp professionalism.
Coach Aron Winter has played the game at the very highest level. He knows what it takes to succeed. As so many football analysts like to say, he has the pedigree and pedigree is something Toronto Football Club made clear they wanted when they went on a search for their sixth coach in four years.
The group have always stressed they need time to show what they can do and, to be reasonable, they should be allowed that privilege. After all, in the football aristocracy, pedigree deserves it.
It should also be reasonable to suggest there should at least be a few signs the new system is catching on.
Following the match the coach explained to several questioners the same thing in several different ways. In essence, the problem is his players aren’t playing like he asks them to play. “Secondly, they were doing something, just not the things we asked.”
Facing the loss of two key players due to injuries and surgery, Seattle Sounders was forced to play players in different formations and different positions and they wound up with new dimension to their game. TFC has a tendency to use that kind of situation as a prop. Seattle used it as motivation and a challenge to move forward and achieve.
It is likely Seattle coach Sigi Scmid did more than ask his players to play a certain way. He relied on motivation. A fact of life in MLS, the coaches who have been successful in recent years have been motivators. Jason Kreis at Real Salt Lake understands the impact of using motivation to maximize the production of one of the lowest payroll teams in the league. Bruce Arena, Schellas Hyndman, and Dominic Kinnear are others. Of the five, none has pedigree, but they share the American penchant for coaching motivation.
Preki was not a motivator. Except maybe for Nick Dasovic, Toronto FC have never had a coaching motivator.
Alongside systems, player selections and tactical adjustments it may sound a tad simplistic. Then, coach Winter has said repeatedly since his first post game media scrum, football is simple, the answer is simple.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that in the interview process, the TFC brain trust might have slipped up not identifying motivator on the check list.