Ten Points – The Path For TFC
The how is not really important at the end of the day. Neither for that matter is the when. However if by October 19th, the day after the group stages of the Champions League come to an end, Toronto FC does not have ten points in the bag before that day they will not have any realistic chance of qualifying for the knockout stages and probably will finish in third place again for the second year running.
It goes without saying that if TFC, with one win already secured in Panama, can win two of their three home matches that gets them to nine points then they have two chances in Mexico and in Texas respectfully to secure the last point they need for a realistic shot at qualifying. Even then it might be difficult based on FC Dallas possibly upsetting the apple cart a little by winning last week in Mexico. Dallas after tomorrow will have three home dates remaining and have only the relatively easy touch of Tauro FC left to deal with on the road. The win at Pumas gives Dallas what TFC unfortunately does not have at this point, namely some wiggle room. Wednesday night’s game at BMO Field is not a must win for them. They already have secured what they probably thought they had a chance of doing in the first two games going into this tournament, three points.
Dallas simply put do not need to win Wednesday. Toronto FC does. It really is that simple. And undoubtedly that is going to probably factor into the strategy they follow versus Toronto. And Dallas has a few distractions to deal with right now that TFC does not.
Dallas lost at home last weekend to Seattle, and it was an absolutely huge result for them… and a big problem. Seattle vaulted past them into the second automatic playoff slot in the western conference and with a draw away at Chivas on Saturday past defending MLS Cup champs Colorado are now nipping at their heels, now only two points behind. And they have the prospect of having to leave Toronto on Thursday and fly off to Kansas City and try and get points off Sporting, who are undefeated in their new home stadium.
And there is the little matter of their best defender heading over to Europe. Linchpin centre back George John is according to reports heading to England to sign with Blackburn Rovers. He will not be playing Wednesday in Toronto and ironically his replacement in the lineup, Zach Loyd, last weekend in the Seattle game went down to injury twenty five minutes into the tilt.
Toronto on the other hand has nothing to concentrate on, nothing to look ahead to, nothing to fixate over other than getting three points versus Dallas.
Its a simple task, hard in the execution no doubt, but simple nonetheless. Keep your shape at the back. Cover for each other. Man mark Brek Shea, the one player on the opposition who has it in him to break the game wide open with a single play. And play the game with a sense of urgency. In the past eight matches the Reds have played they have scored fourteen goals. This “new & improved” TFC can get forward and put the ball in the net. Wednesday evening we will see if they can score when it really matters, with the pressure firmly upon them.
Duane Rollins of Canadian Soccer News argued on their podcast Monday night that this Dallas game is arguably the biggest game in the history of Toronto FC since the now infamous encounter in New York back in October of 2009. I could not agree more. A win and the path ahead to qualify is still clear. A draw or a loss and the task becomes extremely unlikely.
The TFCPics site has posted their usual pre-game analysis of the game here: http://viewfromthesouthstands.com/articles/44-previews/233-tfc-v-dallas-preview. I t is a worthy read, chock full of details on the referee, interesting stats and a fearless prediction.