Toronto vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 6 Things We Learned from Spurs' Friendly Win
Tottenham won the second match of their pre-season tour of North America 3-2, with Andros Townsend scoring the winning goal in the 85th minute.
Erik Lamela was the star for Spurs, scoring twice in the opening period.
Spurs lined up with a fluid line of three (Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Aaron Lennon) behind Roberto Soldado and were entertaining and efficient as they cruised to a 2-0 half-time lead.
Mauricio Pochettino's system looks to be taking shape as Ben Davies slipped comfortably into the starting line-up.
Spurs were a little ragged after 10 half-time changes, and Toronto drew level at 2-2 before Townsend's late winner.
Erik Lamela Is Showing the Form Expected of Him
Erik Lamela's first-half performance was enough to rekindle the hopes of Spurs fans that he would justify his £25.8 million transfer fee. When the young Argentine joined from Roma last season, expectations were high, but injuries and indifferent form torpedoed his first campaign.
Last night, Lamela scored two goals reminiscent of his time at Roma when he was positioned on the right wing and allowed to roam. Both were the result of his making late runs into space.
Lamela's first capped off a team move that will have no doubt pleased Mauricio Pochettino. Quick, vertical ball movement dragged Toronto's defence inside to create the space that Lamela duly exploited. A calm and confident finish gave Spurs a 16th-minute lead. He doubled the advantage in the 39th when Soldado again picked him out in space on the left.
His brace was certainly pleasing, but it was the entire performance that really caught the eye. Beginning as a number 10, Lamela was efficiently distributing possession but also dropping into the channels to provide an additional attacking option. He even lead the pressing, twice winning possession in Toronto's half of the field.
If Lamela can carry this form into the Premier League season, fans will begin to realise that he was worth the money.
Ben Davies Is a Perfect Fit in Pochettino's System
After completing his protracted transfer to Tottenham on Wednesday, Ben Davies went straight into the starting XI for the Toronto match.
In the opening minutes, he took up a position in Toronto's half and was immediately involved. A neat passing move shifted the ball out to his wing, and he took it without breaking stride.
Davies showed his considerable football acumen throughout his "debut," coming forward when needed but never being caught out in defence.
Providing the necessary width while avoiding exposing his team, Davies showed in his 45-minute debut that he understands the role of full-backs in Mauricio Pochettino's team and that he will be a significant asset in the coming Premier League season.
Near the end of the first half, Davies drove toward the box, and instead of mindlessly swinging in a cross, he looked up and sent a short ball to Aaron Lennon.
Davies was impressive in his first appearance for Spurs, but he was also careless with possession. At 21 years old, Davies is not the finished product. He is certainly an upgrade on Danny Rose.
Pochettino's System Is Beginning to Take Shape
Mauricio Pochettino is renowned for his physically demanding pressing game and his insistence on quick, vertical passing.
In the first half of Wednesday's friendly against Toronto, Spurs pressed admirably. They won back possession five times in the opposition half. Pochettino will have been pleased with that aspect of Spurs' performance as he will with the way they opened the scoring.
Spurs broke quickly through Christian Eriksen on the right. He drove forward before passing inside to Roberto Soldado. Soldado's neatly disguised pass was aided by Aaron Lennon's dummy that allowed the ball to move to Erik Lamela, who fired in an impressive opening goal.
In the second half, Spurs were less organised, and they failed to effectively press the opposition. As a result, Toronto leveled the match and even threatened to win it.
Pochettino still has plenty of work to do to teach his system to his new team, but the signs are there that they have begun to apply his philosophy.
Spurs Are Still Short in Defence
Jan Vertonghen is yet to return from his World Cup campaign, and Kyle Walker has only just made a return from a long-term injury, but Spurs still look short in defence. The signing of Ben Davies has filled what has long been a problem position for Tottenham, and if Younes Kaboul can remain fit and regain confidence, Spurs' first-choice defence looks quite strong.
Kyle Naughton, Danny Rose and Michael Dawson were all on display against Toronto, and Ezekiel Fryers also had perhaps his worst Tottenham performance.
On the strength of that evidence, none of Spurs' back-up defenders are of the required quality.
Naughton was adequate for Spurs in the first half while Michael Dawson just carried on being Michael Dawson. He's not gotten any worse, but the team and the style have evolved around him to the point where he no longer fits.
It has been suggested that Spurs are hesitant to make too many signings in this transfer window after the disappointments of last season, but they simply must find defensive reinforcements.
Andros Townsend Remains a Diamond in the Rough
Andros Townsend continued his return from the ankle injury that ended his World Cup dream by scoring the winning goal against Toronto FC. It was a typical Townsend goal: powerful, yet artfully struck.
There is no doubting Townsend's qualities, but his flaws are also evident. Before scoring Tottenham's third goal, Townsend twice showed the frustratingly poor decision-making that is his biggest drawback.
Blessed with pace and close control as well as some of the physical power that has made Gareth Bale the most expensive footballer of all time, Townsend could be a brilliant player for Spurs and England.
If Mauricio Pochettino can iron out the mistakes and the errors in judgement, he will have another impressive weapon in his arsenal.
Townsend's highlights would suggest that this is a project worth undertaking.
Pochettino Continues to Give the Youth a Chance
Ryan Mason and Milos Veljkovic were quietly impressive in the first half for Spurs as they joined in the senior playing group. Veljkovic has been a highly rated youngster for some time, and it appears as though he has caught the eye of Pochettino.
Mason was also solid, forming the base of Spurs' midfield in combination with Etienne Capoue. He was quiet but never looked out of place.
Harry Kane was not particularly impressive in his second-half appearance and perhaps should have scored when he pushed Danny Rose's looping cross just wide of the far post. Regardless of his performance today though, he looks to have a major part to play in Spurs' season.