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New pairing keeps focus on TFC defence
April 25, 2009, 9:58 AM
Filed under: Adrian Serioux, Marco Velez, Toronto FC

Whatever his reasons for taking a bird’s-eye view of last Wednesday’s proceedings at BMO Field, the vantage point can only have helped Toronto FC head coach John Carver see the big picture.

He saw a new-look formation (4-3-3) create chance after chance against Major League Soccer’s best team, Chivas USA, but the fact that only one of the home side’s six shots found the back of the net put the onus squarely on the defence to batten down the hatches once again.

Fortunately for the suddenly-shy Englishman, his back four held firm, and in pairing Marco Velez with stalwart Adrian Serioux for the first time since a Week 2 draw in Columbus, Carver may just have stumbled upon a winning centre-back partnership after watching the prior pairing of Kevin Harmse and Serioux concede late goals the two previous weekends.

“We just try to communicate and do the simple things and I think it just worked out,” Velez said of playing with the Canadian international.

Serioux readily concurred with that assessment.

“It seemed like we just kind of meshed together,” he said of his Puerto Rican teammate.

“It’s obviously an advantage when you just have somebody come into the mix like that and just get right into it, and it’s definitely an advantage for us, so we’ll just keep it going.”

Whether or not the duo get the chance to continue their burgeoning partnership tomorrow at home against the Kansas City Wizards is up to the coaching staff – but posting the team’s first clean sheet of the season can’t exactly hurt Velez’s bid to add to his two starts so far this season.

“He’s always been told you wait and your time will come, and when you get your chance, you take your chance, and he’s gone in and done that,” said assistant coach Chris Cummins, who may again be left to run the dugout tomorrow, if Carver chooses to watch the game from up top. “[Velez] went in, he was solid, he won his headers, he looked to play when he could and we’ve kept a clean sheet, so all credit to him and the back four as well.

“It’s always tough to change a winning team at times but sometimes, depending on who you’re playing, you have to do that. I’m not saying whether Marco will be starting or not starting but, if he’s not, I’m sure he’ll be disappointed.”

Velez won’t be the only one saddened if he isn’t one of the first 11 names on the TFC team sheet tomorrow.

“It was actually great back there,” Serioux said of playing alongside his fellow defender last Wednesday.

“It’s one of those things where I think he’s a true centre back, where Kevin Harmse and myself are converted centre backs. It’s definitely an advantage playing back there with one guy who understands the game and just goes out there and does what he has to do.

“Our styles are pretty much similar when you look at aggression and how we get stuck in there – we don’t miss a beat. If it’s a striker trying to avoid myself, he’s going to go over there and get the same kind of treatment, so it’s a great combination we have going on right now, so we’ll see how it goes. … Why fix anything that’s not broken?”

The knock on the 6-foot-1, second-year MLS player has always been his discipline, or the lack thereof. Twice Velez had referees reaching for the red card last season, and missed three matches through suspension as a result.

“Before the red cards last year, I had a pretty clean card situation,” Velez said. “It’s was just a mistake, a reaction that just happened. I wasn’t worried about it. I know I’ve matured over the years and learned from my mistakes.”

And Velez still feels his aggressive style of play is more an asset than a hindrance. “I used to get a lot of cards from fighting with the refs – which you never win – but I think [my aggression] is one of my strengths, but I need to control it and not react as hard.”

Another quality is his eye for goal – especially from set pieces, from which he scored twice last year – and that’s something Velez certainly is in no hurry to rein in.

“I’m always up for corner kicks and long throw-ins, so, hopefully, I can get a couple of goals more,” he said.

And as for getting on the end of one of those long throw-ins from Serioux? “I’d love to.”

Source: Click Here

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