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article imageCheyrou sets the tempo in comfortable TFC win over Portland

By Tyrrell Meertins     May 24, 2015 in Sports
Toronto FC may have claimed their first home win of the season, but this was possibly their most convincing display under Greg Vanney.
The Reds weren’t particularly dominant against the Portland Timbers, but they comfortably negated the opposition’s threat in the final third.
Luke Moore started alongside Sebastian Giovinco for the injured Jozy Altidore in TFC’s 4-4-2 diamond, whereas Eriq Zavaleta formed a centre-back partnership with Damien Perquis. However, despite Altidore’s absence, TFC’s approach was unchanged: going forward the Reds overloaded central areas, but quickly retreated into two flat banks of four when they lost possession.
Benoit Cheyrou was the key performer for the home side in this respect, operating as a catalyst to TFC’s attacks in a deep-lying role. Cheyrou freely moved into space to receive the ball, and Portland’s lack of pressure in midfield enabled the TFC midfielder to play positive penetrative passes into key areas. Where the Frenchman’s passing rate was considerably low, his inch-perfect ball behind Alvas Powell, for substitute Warren Creavalle was worthy of a second half goal and highlighted the required penetration he offers in midfield
Cheyrou, though, was even better out of possession. The TFC midfielder recorded the most tackles (3) and interceptions (6) for the home side, as his intelligent positioning ahead of the back four was equally important. Neither Diego Valeri, nor Gaston Fernandez was capable of evading Cheyrou presence in central areas, depriving the Timbers of a link between midfield and attack, and as the match progressed the Frenchman received more space to ignite quick transitional attacks.
Though Cheyrou was pivotal towards TFC’s success, his initial errors led to the few chances the away side created in the opening 10 minutes — yet Caleb Porter’s men only tested Reds keeper Chris Konopka in the 82 from Fernandez dispossessing Bradley in the Reds’ third. Likewise, Jonathan Osorio and Collen Warner admirably protected their fullbacks, avoiding free crosses into the box, and without a threat between the lines, striker Fanendo Adi was isolated upfront.
Nevertheless, TFC weren’t any better in with the ball, but due to an early Giovinco goal, the hosts were free to soak up pressure and break on the counter. TFC’s moves in the early stages were positive, with Moore staying in close proximity of Giovinco and Bradley in the buildup of quality moves.
The second half was drab, nonetheless, due to TFC’s caution, and Portland’s inability to break lines.
“Early in the game we were sloppy and a bit casual for whatever reason,” Porter said.
“I think obviously when you give up a goal, people will look and say you were flat, but I don’t think we were flat, I thought we came out sharp. But after the goal I think rattled us a little bit, and it took us far too long to respond.”
Vanney’s substitutions typified his pleasure with the result, turning to Jackson and Creavalle, as TFC became a 4-5-1 with Bradley and Osorio aiding Cheyrou in midfield. Now Giovinco moved laterally to each flank to win receive possession, and with additional pace on the flanks, the Reds posed a legitimate threat on the counter. Osorio and Giovinco led transitional attacks from opposite flanks resulting in goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey denying the former and Bradley, preventing a possible onslaught.
"There were some good moments for sure," Bradley said.
"I didn't think it was our best day. I think we're just scratching the surface in terms of what we can be in sharpness and really finishing teams off."
In spite of an apathetic showdown featuring minimal chances at BMO Field, TFC comfortably managed the match, displaying further tactical flexibility and pragmatism under Vanney.
More about Tfc, Toronto FC, Michael Bradley, giovinco, Portland Timbers
 
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