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James on Soccer

TFC off to a good start Add to ...

Even though it was only a pre-season game TFC nevertheless earned a confidence building 1-0 victory over FC Dallas in Orlando, Florida.

A game of two halves with both teams at times looking a little jaded - the likely after effects of pre-season training - it was Toronto who were the more dominant and effective team in the first half. Aside from a couple of balls over the top of centre backs Garcia and Jammeh which caused some concern Dallas never really looked threatening in other areas.

TFC meanwhile were more effective going forward and created a few opportunities through the industrious De Rosario and Kayizzi combining well. The lone goal scored mid-way through the first half was a result of the impressive Martin Saric picking up a loose ball in the midfield and feeding the quick Kayizzi who found himself some space after cutting in from the right. His finish was clinical.

Toronto looked better organized and more balanced defensively throughout the match competing in a 4-4-2 formation. Garcia was needlessly sent off for his reaction to a foul just before half-time. It affected the game as a fatigued TFC had to play the entire second half a man down. It was a good test particularly in regards to the defensive shape and discipline of the team.

Aside from a shaky final 15 minutes where they conceded a few clear cut chances, in part the result of a back line playing a little too high, they were nevertheless comfortable as a unit and were difficult to break down.

Dallas did strike the crossbar from a superbly taken free kick late on but in the end TFC deserved the victory through pure diligence of the task at hand, which surely is a positive sign.

Observations

• 4-4-2 shape was effective

• Defended well as a team

• DeGuzman and Saric looked a good combination in the centre of the park with Saric comfortable on the ball, tough in the tackle, and clever tactically. Could be a good find for TFC. It will allow DeGuzman more freedom and lessen the defensive burden.

• DeRosario playing off of a front man (Gerber) worked well as he works best when he has the freedom to keep mobile.

• Nana Attakora and Jim Brennan were comfortable in the FB positions but Garcia and Jammeh were still uncomfortable as the centre back combination. This should be a pressing concern for Preki. Nana came inside in the second half as a result of Garcia's ejection.

• Kayizzi the Ugandan trial player looked interesting. Fast and quite skillful he scored a good goal and was very busy.

• Gabe Gala who played the first half has improved and is more confident. Plays the wide position well and has good technical skills. Lacks power and strength which will need to be improved if he realistically wants to compete regularly this season.

• Ali Gerba while he looks slimmer and fitter was ineffective tonight. Maybe just a poor outing but he will need to be better as a target player or his time will be limited. Never looked like scoring.

• Frei in goal was steady but had very little to do in the first half. Kocic who played the second half made 4 very good saves. He looked athletic, assured, and confident. With his size he has a presence and he proved on today's performance he can be a useful addition to the TFC squad.

• In possession TFC at times looked slick and sharp but were a little to fatigued to take advantage of some good build-up and approach play.

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