Killer Instinct – Does TFC Have It?
If Toronto FC does what its fans all hope they can do tonight, eliminate the Montréal Impact and take a stranglehold on the Voyageurs Cup, an assist on the score sheet will most likely need to go to the Montréal Canadiens.
Even more so than Toronto, Montréal is a hockey town. With the Habs playing a winner take all game seven tonight in Pittsburgh it is very likely that a large segment of its most fervent supporters will be at a pub somewhere watching hockey instead of the soccer game. The hundreds of TFC fans going to Montréal will probably make their presence felt far above their actual numbers as their only focus will be on the soccer game and not some other event.
Tonight Toronto FC has the chance to make the stretch of games they have over the next few weeks a little easier. As I mentioned here yesterday Toronto plays in Los Angeles against the undefeated Galaxy Saturday night, then to Vancouver next Wednesday for the Voyageurs Cup game, then home to New England on the 22nd. If TFC can take care of business tonight then it means that they can possibly salt away the Cup competition next week in Vancouver. That makes the last game of the tournament scheduled for June 2nd just a formality. In this scenario Toronto will be hoisting the trophy in front of their home fans in June while being able to rest worn out regulars.
There are two other important factors at play in tonight’s game that I think are critical for the club. First is getting an away win. Four league games away from home and four losses is the reality the club has faced so far this season. And with a game in Los Angeles against the league leaders on the weekend there is no time like the present to show themselves what is possible away from home. Montréal is down three players due to red card suspensions and Toronto is coming off their best offensive display since the “Montréal Miracle” last year.
Momentum in sports is a very important thing and a team like Toronto FC with so many new players on it needs to know tangibly that they have the ability to go away from home and win a game. They can be told and told and told they can do it until Preki turns blue in the face, but unless they see it for themselves away wins can only be discussed in the abstract.
The second factor is the rotation of the squad. With the importance of the league and the focus on getting into the playoffs Preki needs to use the opportunities he has to get some rotation into the squad whenever and wherever he can. The key word is “some”. Far be it from me to tell Preki what to do but with Montréal being forced to chase the game tonight and having to score early Toronto must take advantage of their relative skill up top and look at playing close to a top line-up in the first half and look to put the game away on the counter. There will be space for Toronto to utilize the pace of players like White and “Impact Killer” Chad Barrett to have good scoring chances early. If this happens and TFC can hold Montréal off the scoreboard then the DeRo’s and De Guzman’s can be taken off and rested for Los Angeles on the weekend.
I will be posting a video blog later tonight after the match.