Apr 5, 2012, 11:25 AM EST
Show me an MLS champion, and I’ll show you a strong center back on patrol at that address.
You would need to go back to 2007 for the last time an MLS champion was crowned without a dominant center back. That year, Eddie Robinson and Ryan Cochrane competently stood as central sentinels along Houston’s back line. Both players were good MLS center backs – enforcers more than craftsmen – although not great ones.
But Houston’s overall team defense was fierce, so the center backs didn’t need to be famously adept at their trade, just solid clock-punchers. And they were.
Look at the teams that have won since then, and the men on watch in the middle of the back four:
- 2011, Los Angeles Galaxy, Omar Gonzalez (pictured)
- 2010, Colorado, Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne
- 2009, Real Salt Lake, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers
- 2008, Columbus, Chad Marshall
The point is, no team with porous defense will ever hold an MLS title. It’s a sliding scale, of course; if the attack is outrageously talented, perhaps the defense need only be “good” and not “great.” Still, it must achieve something above middling competency. That takes quality center backs.
All of this is to set up one question:
What, in the name of Paolo Maldini, is Toronto FC doing?
The defense at BMO Field: A) Is terrible. B) Has always been terrible. C) Shows little indication of crawling out of the “terrible” zone.
Last night’s 6-2 loss at Santos is just the latest file in this open-and-shut case. So give me a second to climb my little footstool and place last night’s thrashing right on top of this tall, tall stack of ever-mounting evidence.
John Molinaro from Canada’s Sports Net takes a deeper look at the Toronto’s long-running inability to address its most pressing problem. Hard to argue anything he says.
Dec 9, 2013, 11:20 AM EST
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Dec 9, 2013, 9:48 AM EST
Shock horror, Ronaldo and Messi go head-to-head for Ballon d’Or….
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Ex-Premier League striker among those questioned as investigation continues:
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Dec 8, 2013, 10:48 PM EST
Unbeaten in three, Spurs have turned things around since their loss at Manchester City.
Dec 8, 2013, 9:44 PM EST
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The difference between missed opportunities and bad luck.
Dec 8, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
Fulham decided it early against Aston Villa, while Giroud was denied late at The Emirates.
Dec 8, 2013, 7:40 PM EST
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Collin, Feilhaber, Findley and Schuler may have changed the way we see their careers.
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Dec 8, 2013, 6:38 PM EST
NBC Sports’ analysts consider what’s going right in the South, wrong in the East.
Dec 8, 2013, 5:43 PM EST
New depths for Moyes, Everton continues to convince, and perspective required for Chelsea’s, City’s stumbles.
Dec 8, 2013, 2:51 PM EST
Roma’s enormous win, fueled by Mattia Destro’s winner in his season debut, gave the Giallorossi a vital three to keep pace with Juventus and extend their distance from Napoli.
Dec 8, 2013, 2:23 PM EST
Wenger believes consistency will be the key, but can Arsenal learn from previous campaigns and not shot themselves in the foot?
Dec 8, 2013, 12:59 PM EST
Mesut Ozil gave Arsenal the lead with just 10 minutes to go, but Gerard Deulofeu broke Arsenal fans hearts not long after.
Dec 8, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
The North London Derby gets a third chapter this season as the two sides will face off in the FA Cup third round. See the complete draw results here:
Dec 8, 2013, 10:33 AM EST
Dimitar Berbatov looked like a changed man and Steve Sidwell scored as well to give Fulham their first win in seven weeks.
Dec 8, 2013, 10:31 AM EST
Arsene Wenger has the Gunners flying high at the top of the league, with a chance for another impressive win against Everton to put them 7 points clear.
Dec 8, 2013, 9:14 AM EST
Fulham are well on their way to ending a run of six consecutive defeats.
Dec 8, 2013, 8:36 AM EST
It’s slowly coming out that David Moyes has been keeping an eye on summer target Kevin Strootman of Roma.
Dec 8, 2013, 7:50 AM EST
Can Rene Meulensteen breathe life into Dimitar Berbatov and a weary Fulham squad, or will it be Villa’s away day magic that continues to shine bright at Craven Cottage?
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