One drawback to the the "post-game interviews on stationary bikes" era at TFC is that it's much tougher for observant reporters like yours truly to gauge the team's post-game mood.
Last year you'd walk in after a win and catch the team in mid-celebration -- music blaring, players joking, laughing, maybe playing video games. After a loss you'd find guys looking glum in a silent room, but trying to find reasons to keep the faith. One of my lasting memories from 2007 occurred minutes after the 2-1 loss to Columbus, the same day Miguel Canizales snapped the league record goalless streak.
Don't quite know why, but can't forget seeing Jeff Cunningham, who had missed a point-blank shot that day, sitting next to his locker, hands folded, staring at the floor. As he brooded Jim Brennan walked by and gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. Cunningham then rose and slapped hands with Kenny Stamatopoulos, who had surrendered two goals that day.
Tender moments during a tedious losing streak. Small acts that reveal a team's character.
Tough to stumble across scenes like those at home games this year. Instead, win or lose, you've got guys riding bikes.
Again, not complaining about that, but it just means that instead of observing the team's mood directly, you sometimes have to take people's word for it.
In Thursday night's case, nobody seemed annoyed about the 1-1 tie. The result seemed fair in a game that featured few scoring chances for either team. Still, I believe Carver when he said his guys weren't happy earning a single point from that game.
"I'm disappointed," Carver said. "And the fact that I'm disappointed tells me how far we've come."
When I first started covering soccer I found it funny that guys would head into games looking to get "a result." Not necessarily a win. Possibly a tie. Just not a loss. A result.Now, I'm not trying to reopen the soccer semantics debate we had a few posts ago. I'm just saying I'm used to guys who play to win the game.
So TFC got "a result" Thursday night and Carver swallows it but says everyone involved senses they could have accomplished more. And that really is a long way from last season, when it seemed like any "result" was a good "result."
It's also on the record. A starting point of sorts, and something to watch out for the rest of the season. Does TFC continue to head into every game seeking three points, or at some point do they relax and content themselves with "a result"? What happens to their killer instinct after a few more wins? After a string of losses? After a few more "results"?
As I said in Wednesday's story, Carver treats his job as a daily crusade against complacency, so I know what my hunch is on how this will play out. Still, as the season wears on, more than wins and losses I've got my eye on how this team's character develops.
On bye weeks
With sixteen days between games, some of TFC's new additions are headed back overseas to attend to unfinished business. Carver said both Laurent Robert and Olivier Tebily will head back to England to gather some belongings and ship them over here. Living in a hotel is no fun, apparently.
Carver knows. He recently moved out of one and into a house in Oakville. He, too, will fly back across the Atlantic to sell the house he left when he took the Toronto job.
On the Man of The Match
Thursday night, Marvell Wynne hoisted the trophy. Kicking myself right now because I forgot to ask him whether he gets to keep it, or if they just engrave his name on it.
Anyway, it's his first since coming to TFC a year ago, which is a surprise considering how often he snuffs out scoring chances by his damn self. Did anyone else catch the play he made just before halftime as New York's Danleigh Borman sped deep into Toronto's zone with the ball and a few options?
If you missed it, Wynne swooped in and made the field real small in a hurry, trapped Borman along the end line, relieved him of the ball and sent it the other way.
In the second half he was tasked with shutting down Jozy (Villareal?) Altidore, and did that, too.
Still, he didn't think his effort would win him the trophy. Nor did he even think about it.
"When I'm playing I'm not thinking to myself, 'I might be man of the match," so it's a nice little surprise to get noticed," he said.
Well, people notice.
Just so you know.
-- Morgan Campbell