It’s still troubling to see all those empty seats at BMO Field, once the gold standard in passionate MLS support.
Hopefully the fans who have abandoned TFC (or stashed their scarves for the time being) will recognize that a better product can be found these days along Exhibition Place, where Ryan Nelsen has the Reds organized and working hard for one another.
Unfortunately, Nelsen and his side still have miles to go in terms of getting the personnel where it needs to be, and in teaching the team how to manage matches and situations.
We saw it all there Saturday as TFC gave up an early goal, rallied to take a lead and held that margin until stoppage time. But a mistake in the back gave young Galaxy attacker Jose Villareal a chance to demonstrate his opportunism and his athleticism.
His late goal was the equalizer in a 2-2 draw at BMO Field.
Here are a few quick thoughts, followed by the highlights.
- Richard Eckersley, once a right back, then a center back and then a right back again – he’s now apparently a left back.
- We’ve mentioned before about how TFC still needs more quality in several areas, something club president Kevin Payne is presumably addressing. One is right I the middle of the park, where TFC were clearly outmanned over stretches Saturday. Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas – good MLS midfield men, but not great – mostly had their way through the center.
- Donovan (pictured from Satruday)? Meh. Then again, what did we expect? Getting him on the field was about elevating his fitness, as much as anything.
(MORE: Landon Donovan back on field for LA Galaxy)
- TFC was just not a bit creative for most of Saturday afternoon. Luis Silva’s second-half introduction helped (and a clever little something surely helped on TFC’s second goal), but the Reds need more imagination. So far, too many of the TFC goals tends to rise out of Robert Earnshaw’s opportunism.
- Hard to say what TFC defender Darel Russell might have been thinking with a “clearing” header that he put right back in front of his own goal in stoppage time. Anywhere else and the Reds probably get all three points. A draw against the champs, even at home, isn’t terrible for TFC. But conceding a late equalizer (losing two points in the process) is a real bummer, and surely feels like a loss for Nelsen and Co.
Highlights of Saturday’s match:
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday