Don't plan TFC parade, yet

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Like a flashback from a good old Seinfeld episode, "Nobody beats me, because I'm the Wiz".

That line, once delivered with such hilarity, made me laugh at its preposterousness once again Saturday.

Amado Guevara, Dwayne De Rosario and company shredded through the Kansas City Wizards with an efficient brand of attacking soccer, winning their season opener, 3-2.

Never mind the Wizards uninspiring performance, TFC was thorough, and more often than not, in control in a statement win on the road, something previously missing from their repertoire.

Now don't go start planning the parade route just yet -- there are a lot of questions that will take some time to be answered about the '09 Reds.

One sure thing is the ball movement from the second third into the attacking third will be much improved.

The through balls provided by Guevara and De Rosario were as well timed as well placed, providing the attacking prowess the team so handsomely needed.

Aside from a Chad Barrett early gaffe, the finishing was bang on, but most impressive was the way the midfield took care of the ball with steady foot, yet with a cutting edge.

If the kind of chances created in Kansas City becomes a thing of regularity, there is a lot to like about the team.

On the back end, questions still persist. And most of them surround goalkeeping.

Head coach John Carver can rave all he wants about the professional performance by rookie goalkeeper Stefan Frei in his debut, but in actuality, the kid wasn't really tested.

Frei can hardly be held responsible for two Davy Arnaud top corner wonder-blasts. But other than that, Frei was irrelevant.

Starting Frei over last year's starter Greg Sutton is a gutsy move. He's rolling the dice that the kid is a better option. In Sutton's defence, he got a raw deal over the past couple seasons, with an erratic, unpredictable, and under-classed back-line in front of him. This isn't to say Sutton isn't the perfect goalkeeper, but surely a player of his experience and ability gives the team a better chance to win short-term, right?

By turning to youth instead of experience on the road, Carver is making it clear he doesn't have faith in Sutton, making the Canadian goalkeeper a candidate to be moved via trade.

Goalkeeping isn't the only position where questions remain.

In the middle, what TFC lacks is a true ball-winner. Both goals came through soft-spots in the centre of the field. A defensive minded central midfielder would be ideal for situations like Saturday, where defending a lead becomes a priority.

This isn't to knock the play of Carl Robinson. The Welshman had a day in the middle, but his strength is in distribution and heady decision-making, rather than a ball-winner.

Another issue could be depth.

As the team lost steam in the final 20 minutes, Carver only made one tactical change, bringing in striker Danny Dichio.

The team can rave all they want about their improved fitness, but Saturday, the line-up faded down the stretch, looking physically and mentally drained. This is to be expected in the opener, but Carver not making changes speaks volumes to his confidence in his bench.

Aside from Dichio, the bench is very young. And that includes striker Pablo Vitti who was an unused bench player, with Carver preferring rookie midfielder Sam Cronin for defensive purposes.

Vitti's chance will come. It's just surprising it will come after Frei and Cronin got their look.

With so many questions to be answered, Vitti might be the best and most important long-term option of the three.

Rating the telecast

GOL TV's game-day production has a lot of potential. Sure, there were a lot of technical issues, but that happens in live production, especially on a first broadcast.

Still, there are many issues that need to be dealt with from a creative approach to maintaining the integrity of the game from a soccer perspective. But the most important thing that has to be dropped are the tacky, full-frame player profile boards that were thrown up during live game-action.

Soccer isn't like hockey or basketball where there's a lot of dead-time to fill. The game is constant and isn't conducive to filling space with unnecessary visuals.

Because of the use of the boards, the lead-up to a Guevara tally was missed. This cannot continue to happen.


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