TFC heads to Dallas A Few Players Short
“To fail is a natural consequence of trying, To succeed takes time and prolonged effort in the face of unfriendly odds. To think it will be any other way, no matter what you do, is to invite yourself to be hurt and to limit your enthusiasm for trying in the first place”
FC Dallas has lost twice in MLS in 2010. and Toronto FC has only won one game away from BMO Field all season. Dallas has only lost two times all year, once home and once away. TFC has three of their best players away on Team Canada duty and sick bay is relatively crowded. Dallas leads TFC in just about every statistical category. Suffice it to say TFC is just about the longest shot in the league this weekend to get something from this game. So without the usual Friday afternoon pre-game histrionics I thought it would be better to instead take a look at what Toronto can do to get something out of a game they should not have any right being competitive in all things being equal.
Play to your strengths – Injured striker Maicon Santos has made the trip to Dallas with the club after missing a number of games due to injury. Before getting hurt Maicon was showing both glimpses of being a solid striker for TFC and was also really clicking with Mista up front. Maicon is a great holder of the ball and his skills are very complementary to a player like Mista who has a sweet right foot and a good footy sense. TFC midfielders need to get the ball up top to Maicon as often as they can and let him do his work of holding up the ball and getting it to Mista or taking a shot on goal himself. Martin Saric has also shown glimpses of being a decent defensive midfielder at times. Tomorrow Saric needs to park himself out in front of central defenders Cann and Harden while getting up in the grill of Jeff Cunningham and David Ferreira. Saric in particular needs to get both these speedy skilled players off their games as much and as often as he possibly can. If Saric does not get a yellow tomorrow he is not doing his job
Address your weaknesses – TFC has all season struggled with a lack of effective wing and fullback play. And Dallas will obviously know this and will look to use speed players like David Ferriera to go after our full backs especially. So did Cruz Azul. If Preki is not showing the video of the first half against Cruz Azul over and over again to his players then he is making a huge mistake. That game plan should be the template for tomorrow. Keeping your shape, pressure the Dallas players far up the field, and attacking the ball as aggressively and as positionally intelligently as you can. And perhaps most importantly address the fact that too many TFC players give up the ball far too easily then they should be doing, and especially on the road that has been a killer.
Relax – The MLS playoff race will not be decided tomorrow. If TFC ends up losing and losing large in Dallas then of course it will not be a surprise to anyone. The pundits out there (yours truly included) have not included getting anything from this match in our “How TFC gets into the playoffs” calculations. And with the spine of the club for the most part (Attakora, DeRo and de Guzman all playing in Toronto for Team Canada) not playing in Texas it is quite possible that Dallas may even take their foot of the accelerator as well. Embrace the fact that the club is expected to get nothing from this game. Embrace the underdog. The underdog is our friend.
Believe – Dallas only draws a little over 10,000 per home game. Pizza Hut Park is not exactly Anfield or the Camp Nou, far from it actually. Getting an early goal or even an early offensive flurry may really take what crowd there is tomorrow out of the game to some extent. The Soccer Moms may be too busy with their kids at the Bouncy Castle to even notice anyways.
The cliché says that “…the ball is round…”. It is indeed. I have no illusions about TFC getting anything from this game. If Toronto scores I will be surprised. If the game ends with less than a two goal win for Dallas I will be even more surprised all things being equal. Frankly getting anything from this game would be up there with the Cruz Azul victory and the draw in Motagua as season high points. And like those two games TFC went into both of them believing they could earn a result in spite of long odds. Toronto FC can get something from this game tomorrow. They simply must believe they can and play like it.
And see you tomorrow at BMO Field as we cheer on Team Canada against Peru. Then it is off to the Duke of Gloucester for the TFC game right afterwards. I will have a video blog up on Sunday with comments from both the Canada Peru game and the aforementioned Dallas game.