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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

No need to Koef up lead

We feel your painsh

In a season bereft of feel-good moments, the 86th minute of last Saturday's match against Union was welcome respite for a few of the Toronto FC faithful. After a 10-month lay-off, the club's potent striker and fan favourite Danny Koevermans entered the match to much fanfare and good tidings. But why?
While the return of the burly Dutchman has been anticipated for ages in these parts, with his reappearance being regarded in some circles at a Messianic level, this was simply a poor footballing decision. With about 10 minutes to hang on to a slim lead with only 10 men on the pitch, introducing a lumbering striker fresh off an ACL rehab was extremely questionable. And that is being kind.
So why the rush? While there is no doubt that Koef needed a run out in first team action, this was not the time. Yes, he has a lethal touch when the ball is at his feet but Koevermans will never be accused of having pace. However long Koef's tenure remains with TFC it will only be successful if he is played as part of a striking tandem where he plays the role of poaching target man. At his age and with the residual ring-rust of nearly a year away from play, using him as anything more than a fairly lethal tank is useless.
With TFC's regularly scheduled late-match collapses now an accepted fact of life, bringing in a player of his skill-set in the 86th minute put the club even further behind the 8-ball - virtually playing with 9 1/2 men on the defensive side. When Jack McInerney grabbed the inevitable equalizer in stoppage time, Koef was indeed one of the ball-watchers on the play, although in fairness it was your usual "All For One" collapse.

But again, why the sub? It's not like the 10 minutes on the pitch would really give Koef the sea-legs he needs and worse, it was at the expense of the industrious Jeremy Brockie who was actually having a good 20 minutes. If anything was needed it would have been additional help ball-winning in the midfield or at the back. That being said, with only Reggie Lambe and Gale Agboosoumonde as bench options, the status quo may have been the best choice. Instead, this smacked of a short-sighted emotional/promotional decision.

Koevermans must ingratiate himself to his managers. Aron Winter, Paul Mariner and now Nelsen all seem to like the big striker and we can see why his re-introduction may be a lift to him and his teammates. However, morale-boosting should have taken a back seat to tactics. This is more concerning if the move was made so that the club could try to squeeze out a residual photo-op/positive news thread with a scrappy win-Koef comeback combo making headlines. If that is the case then football is in deep trouble at BMO Field.

We hope that instead, this was a naive and over-emotional decision made by a rookie manager who will learn his lesson. With other squad members (see Califf, Morgan, Frei) Nelsen has shown a more detached and business-like line of action so the hope lays with a simple mistake in judgement. We can all get wrapped up in emotion sometimes and that is forgivable. Making decisions that look good on the club's propaganda site (especially ones that blow up in your face) are not.
As with everything in TFC-land, from promotions to signings, sizzle over steak is played out. Only wins are what supporters need to read about - and they don't really care who is on the pitch when it happens.


  1. Save us Koefi-wan Kenobi! You're our only hope!

  2. I think possibly putting on Koevermans at that time, but taking out Convey & putting Brockie in his position, might have been defensible. Convey was noticeably tiring; Brockie showed he can put in a good cross & work hard -- and was still fresh. Koevermans up front can hold up the ball better than most, especially when the inevitable long ball clearances started near the end. With Brockie running on to Koef to collect the ball after he held it up, this might have worked, and helped to put some last-minute pressure on Philly so they couldn't push forward as much. Possibly.

    For sure, Koevermans to sub Brockie the sub was madness.