In my post earlier this week analyzing where TFC finds itself a the halfway point in this 2010 MLS season I mentioned that Toronto has a much harder home schedule for the rest of this season then at the same point in 2009. Five clubs that are currently ahead of Toronto FC in the MLS standings are on the docket for games at BMO Field between now and October. And the first of these big tests comes tomorrow afternoon against FC Dallas.

Dallas has quietly gone about being one of the better clubs this season in the MLS, only losing two matches, one at home and one away. They are coming off a solid 2-0 home win against MLS Cup holders Real Salt Lake. Dallas lost away to the Galaxy on may 20th, and has not lost since. FC Dallas has allowed just three goals in the last six games, earning four wins and three clean sheets during that stretch of matches.

They have outscored opponents 18-13 so far this season and are in 5th overall in the league table. And they are more than just the “Jeff Cunningham Show”, like they were last season. Players like Atiba Harris and David Ferriera are scoring goals along with Cunningham. Luckily for TFC, midfielder Brek Shea, who played exceptionally well last weekend against RSL is out with injury for tomorrow’s game.

Dallas 2009Interestingly Dallas is getting much of its offensive spark from its two fullbacks, Jair Benitez and Heath Pierce. They are two critical players Toronto must neutralize if they wish to claim the three points on offer tomorrow. Pierce in particular likes to get up wide and play as an attacking fullback, and has been very effective in giving the Dallas attack width and good goal scoring chances, by chipping in five assists. And with Toronto having well documented issues at both fullback positions and on the wings in midfield all season, look for this to be a crucial matchup tomorrow.

To make matters potentially worse, Toronto FC may be without Nana Attakora tomorrow who is nursing a toe injury.  Preki said today that his appearance tomorrow will likely be a game day decision. Defensive midfielder/destroyer Martin Saric has been hurt as well so there is the possibility that Toronto’s back line may look somewhat cobbled together more than it usually does. Expect to see two of Usanov, Hscanovics and/or Nick Garcia start the match tomorrow.

Mista, who looked quite good in stretches during the midweek friendly is according to Preki not likely to start tomorrow as he is still working on full ninety minute game fitness. If this game is in doubt in the second half I think it will be more than likely that he will be making an appearance.

How Preki decides to utilize Mista, or for that matter, how he decides to set the club up formation wise will be interesting as well. In the Friday Pre Game Chat on the TFC website today I asked Luke Wileman his thoughts on what Preki might decide to do. He stated that a 4-5-1 formation or even a 4-3-3 might be what he moves to from the more traditional 4-4-2.

“…I think that is certainly in Preki’s plans. That is what he did last week with De Ro and Ibrahim either side of Chad who played as the lone central striker. With Mista and Maicon it gives Preki even more options, and we could eventually see Mista and Maicon partner Chad or partner each other up front. But I would expect Preki to use three attackers sometime soon if they are all available and maybe use De Ro as one of the three…”

Luke Wileman 07/23/2010

So a tough game on the cards for tomorrow afternoon. The hope for Toronto is that they are still undefeated at home with a +8 goal differential. The Cavalry has arrived in the form of Mista and Maicon (who teamed up to score one of the prettiest TFC goals ever against Bolton), and most importantly the coaching staff and players seem to get the sense of urgency. To that point (the urgency of getting back onto winning ways) Interviewed earlier today was defender Dan Gargan:


(courtesy of TFC TV)

I especially like how in the interview above Gargan used the phrase “…pissed off…” to describe how the club is feeling. BMO Field has become a fortress this season because of the controlled aggression of the players brought in and of the “Preki-Ball” philosophy of grind it out soccer that he prefers his teams to play. If Toronto can keep the Dallas fullbacks at bay, if they can stay out of the referee’s notebook… and most importantly if they can return to that hard nosed style of play that has served them so well at home this year I still think that Toronto has to be the slight favourite here.

An ugly 1-0 win on a late Mista goal is my fearless prediction.

 I am away this weekend and will not be posting a video blog after the Dallas game tomorrow. I will be returning to my regular video blogging and non video blogging duties after the Champions League next Tuesday against Club Motagua of Honduras. As I am going camping I likely will be listening to the game on the radio for the first time tomorrow. I am kind of looking forward to hearing how the TFC games translate to AM radio.

have a great weekend… AND COME ON YOU REDS!

2 comments

  1. Excellent article , Tim . For the first time in a long time , I am ultra-confident of a good result even with Nana as a maybe . I won’t be there but will be directing my hatred of Cunningham and Dallas through psychic means . GO TFC !!

  2. Good article.
    I didn’t know about the injury to Shea. thanks for the info.
    i’m hoping Dero moving further back in the ranks may allow JDG to link better and provide some push from the middle of the park.
    Let’s hope.
    Santos and Barret could be a decent linking partnership.
    Someone please finish.

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