Tag Archives: Nick Hagglund

Bear Witness: Toronto FC Starts It’s Playoff Bid with a 2-1 Away to NYRB

Cris Payne - Toronto FC/mlsfemale
Official Toronto FC Reporter

By Cris Payne // @crissypayne

Song: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons

So we won the Supporter’s Shield, now what? The logical progression, as the best team in the regular season, would be the MLS Cup. However, recent history has proved this a challenge with only 2 teams winning the MLS double in its modern form (since 2003 when the format was changed Source). In this Toronto FC season, records have fallen and new depths have been explored and Toronto FC have shown on Monday night that they aim to win.

Of a wide spectrum of emotions familiar to football fans across the globe, this game had them all. Through the highs and the lows our viewing party buzzed with passion for our team. Despite some long periods of time spent in eerie silence punctuated by fist banging fits of anger, many of us insisted at the end that we were confident in our team all along.

I approached the game with a certain apprehension, knowing that the New York Red Bulls at the Red Bull Arena might just be our toughest game of the playoffs.

A dodgy penalty, a standard Sebastian Giovinco free kick, a kick in the pubis, some dodgy Red Bulls fans whom Greg Vanney eloquently put in their place (what a dad) and 90+ 5 high altitude minutes later we emerged victorious and on top of the world, a feeling we have grown accustomed to. What looked the start of a rocky second half seemed to stabilize after some minor adjustments and Toronto FC kept calm and won the game.

2-1 is a pretty good scoreline to come home to. 2 away goals and the win, NYRB have to score more goals at BMO Field than the home team; a rare feat for wary travelers this year. And the city is ready for them. We have not appreciated the treatment of our players in the States these past few weeks and we are ready to bring the 12th man to the game on Sunday.

If I had to call to mind one image that summed up the match besides the obvious big moments, it would be something like this: Nick Hagglund (possibly in a cape), leaping 10 feet into the air in some sort of karate kick of a clearance. Insert a written sound effect of your choice to indicate great physical prowess and that about sums up our Super Nicky. That’s not to say that Drew Moor doesn’t get the job done, but there was something incredible about watching Nicky come off the bench to accomplish feats of heroism to save us from uncertain death.

It is that type of depth that will take Toronto FC far in this playoff campaign. Hagglund, who has featured in just 3 games for TFC since mid-May after being sidelined twice by injury, was exactly what TFC needed to see the game off. With vigor and the pluck that makes him well loved by Toronto and by former Toronto FC captain and current TSN commentator Steve Caldwell, he put in a performance when we needed him to keep us ahead in New Jersey.

We will likely require another player to step up on Sunday with the possibility of Victor Vazquez missing out (though not if he has anything to do with it) and the team with the greatest depth in the history of the MLS will be tested once again. Who will be our next hero? A stadium will wait with baited breath for all to be revealed.

Featured image courtesy: @torontofc

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @crissypayne

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Too Little Too Early

Cris Payne - Toronto FC/mlsfemale
Official Toronto FC Reporter

By Cris Payne @crissypayne

Saturday, April 15: 2-1 Loss

Song of the Match – Down by Marian Hill

It’s little surprise to anyone that our first loss of the season comes in the absence of Drew Moor. I wish Drew and his family all of the best and I’ve heard that the initially terrifying prospect of him being diagnosed with a heart condition may be something that can be dealt with within a couple of weeks. (source) It sounds like no one, including Drew, expects him to be out for long but I’ll breathe easier once he’s back.

Despite the absence of the Toronto FC rock in the back line, my personal favourite Nick Hagglund did a great job in Drew’s role, and although we were caught sleeping a few times, particularly on the header goal, Nick and Eriq Zavaleta both put shifts in and helped to lead the team from the back. It just, unfortunately, wasn’t enough for us as we fell 2-1 to Columbus Crew. It definitely smarts a bit more than it should served up by the team in yellow we play for the Trillium Cup.

Besides a defense that wasn’t as airtight as usual (again!), we also should have been scoring goals. We looked strong early on and managed to open the scoring but our midfield looked lacklustre especially in the second half; we quite obviously lacked in pace. It seems one of the things we are still tinkering with is the right midfield dynamic.

Having said that, what on earth is it going to take to see Jay Chapman get a minute? Any minute? Several of them preferably? We’ve yet to see our Canadian-born midfielder on the pitch this season and its high time we give him a try. He’s been dependable in the past and I’d love to see him get the chance he deserves. In the coming weeks I hope Greg Vanney explores our options and gives these young guys such as Raheem Edwards and Jay Chapman more opportunities.

It was a big night in Toronto and the Toronto Maple Leafs win helped to ease the pain of the Columbus loss. It made it easier for fans to look forward to change instead of the performances of the past few weeks in which we were barely holding on. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of our hockey team’s book and field more young players. It seems to be working wonders for them.

My Man of the Match talisman will be gratefully handed over to Nicky, as it’s been a pleasure to watch him develop under the direction of Drew Moor. Between Nick and Eriq we have a promising centre back pairing that I think we can eventually feel safe with. Even after conceding two goals I will comfortably say that our 4 or 5 at the back, however you look at it, were our strongest assets on the field. It’s only a matter of time before we start scoring goals again and our defense plays a series of games without a hitch. I believe in them.

Finally, my condolences to Greg Vanney and his family, it seems it’s been something of a difficult week at Toronto FC. It can’t have been easy juggling preparations for the game and even coaching it while dealing with a loss in the family. (source) It really feels like overall our team suffered a number of losses this week, not just on the field, and my only hope is we can move forward from here. To those who are going through some big changes in life at the moment, I will keep you in my thoughts, and to the rest of us: onwards and upwards.

Featured image courtesy: thescore.com

Follow and chat with me on twitter: @crissypayne

Check us out on instagram! @mlsfemale

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