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Drilling down on: at Philadelphia 3, Toronto 0

Ryan Johnson, Michael Farfan, Michael Lahoud

Toronto FC ‘s Ryan Johnston, right, battles Philadelphia Union’s Michael Farfan, center, as Union’s Michael Lahoud , left, looks on during second-half MLS soccer game action in Toronto, Saturday, May 26, 2012. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young)


Man of the Match: When a game is as lopsided as this one, there’s a wealth of man of the match options. Half the Union team looked like world beaters, but the man facilitating it all was Michael Farfan. Freddy Adu may have had a flashier game, and Jack McInerney ended up with as many assists, but when Philadelphia accrued 71 percent of Opta “possession” in the first half (and a 2-0 lead), it was Farfan playing fulcrum in the middle of John Hackworth’s new, more fluid attacking midfield.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Philly ended the match with 62.2 percent of the Opta possession, a figure that diminishes the extent to which they controlled things. On a hot day at PPL Park, they spent the first 45 minutes running Toronto into the ground, their two goals coming after half an hour stretching and prodding the Reds’ defense. Even after recharging at intermission, Toronto offered no second half opposition.
  • At the onset, Philadelphia used long balls behind the line to crack TFC’s defense, with Jack McInerney proving too fast for Richard Eckersley and Logan Emery. The Union eventually started exploiting the wide areas, finding ways around TFC’s central defensive box of Eckersley, Emery, Terry Dunfield and Torsten Frings.
  • With time, Philadelphia had Toronto playing so deep that sitters Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gómez were able to camp uncontested as outlets 10-12 yards inside Toronto’s half. Paul Mariner switched from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1, moving Eric Avila inside, but it didn’t help. As Philadelphia held, Toronto chased and were slowly opened up, allowing Gómez to shuttle into the attacking third.
  • The big openings came in the channels. The first saw Farfan feed McInerney in the right one, with the Philly forward playing back across for Gómez, who opened the scoring in the 34th minuts. That Gómez was able to push to within 12 yards of goal speaks to the extend Philadelphia’s deep midfielders we able to get involved.
  • Two minutes later, a break through the other channel saw Freddy Adu double Philly’s lead, with a wide angle shot from 12 yards getting under Milos Kosic’s left arm.
  • Farfan would provide for a late Antoine Hoppenot goal, but Adu’s score ended the competitive part of the match. The will Toronto showed in surviving the first half hour’s pressure was sapped by two goals conceded in three minutes.
  • Because Philly held so much of the ball, Danny Koevermans was a non-factor. The only time he was involved was early, when TFC seemed intent on using Ryan Johnson down the left to serve for their hot goal scorer. However, when Mariner shifted formations, Koevermans stopped being targeted.
  • Opta stats on failed to record the number of Freddy Adu step-overs. In an eight minute stretch before his goal, he fell in love with them, dancing over the ball while heads up with Jeremy Hall. The first series drew awes from the crowd. The second: Mild rumbling. The third: Nothing.
  • For Philadelphia, it was a great performance ahead of their Wednesday U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Kansas City. With Farfan’s continued emergence, the cohesion of the attacking midfield, and another strong performance from McInerney, Hackworth may still push the Union into a playoff race.
  • For Toronto, it was a demoralizing performance. Philadelphia’s upward trajectory is nice, but they’re not a league power, and Toronto just got smoked by them. Welcome back to reality.