Ik vertelde je zo

That, according to Google, is Dutch for “…I told you so…” . And with news coming out Friday from practice that key striker Alan Gordon will not be playing Saturday evening at home versus the Houston Dynamo, I think a lot of TFC supporters are going to be uttering these words, at least perhaps the English ones.

Gordon picked up a knock in the second half versus FC Edmonton on Wednesday evening in a game many have argued he should not have even started, let alone appeared in. And this knock he picked up re-aggravated his troubled groin muscles that have been the cause of him missing a few games already this season. Without a doubt this is a big blow for Toronto to overcome as it tries to right the ship at home and pick up three much needed points versus Houston. The question remains in Gordon’s absence. Where are the goals going to come from??

On the plus side of the ledger there are no other injury reports to be concerned about and other than the aforementioned Gordon all hands should be on deck Saturday. Stefanovic will be returning and it appears that Julian de Guzman, who along with Gordon was subbed off late in the second half on Wednesday, did not pick any significant injury on Wednesday and he is slated to be fully fit for the match.

Houston Dynamo, newcomers to the Eastern Division of MLS this season are coming here on the heels of a loss at home on Wednesday versus Colorado. That is the first game they have lost since their opening day of the season. Since then the Dynamo have reeled off three wins and three draws to go along with the two losses. Young rookie striker Will Bruin has been scoring and veteran midfielder Brian Davis was just crowned player of the month in MLS for April after a six assist streak that sees him currently lead the league in that offensive category. Suffice it to say, the recent loss notwithstanding, Houston are going to be a tough opponent on Saturday.

Interestingly however TFC has has some significant success versus Houston at home. In fact the Reds have yet to taste defeat at the hands of the Dynamo at BMO Field. Dating back to 2007 the overall record home and away is equal for both clubs… two wins, two defeats and four draws. The last time these two clubs met Dwayne de Rosario scored a memorable extra time winner to secure the three points away in Texas.

Houston is a conventional 4-4-2 playing side that has a good overall mix of the North American style athlete that are big and strong mixed with a decent level of play making skill… in other words a “conventional” MLS side that is quite representative of the type of opponents Aron Winter will be seeing on the other side of the field this season in this league. And with only one win to show for themselves in league play to date so far I think the challenge for Winter and his staff is not only one of talent.

In my opinion there is one issue on the field that tactically he must find some means to address. And there is no time like the present to do so!

The issue in my humble opinion is with our centre backs and their responsibilities in this new system. One can argue reasonably well that TFC’s struggles at this position to date in 2011 can be due to a lack of talent on the roster. You could also state that the revolving door of players through the position to date only makes the situation worse. And these are definitely part of the equation, but arguably not the most important ones. In my eyes this new tactical approach the club is embarking upon often sees the central defenders focusing more time in possession on getting an outlet pass to the midfielders to start an offensive possession rather than seeing them focus solely on what they should be, namely their defensive duties. Often thy spend too much time in possession looking for that outlet pass then they reasonably should be doing.

There has to be some increased focus in my opinion on the part of the midfielders, particularly Julian de Guzman in this regard towards making it easier on the centre backs to get the ball out of trouble and to moving it forward in a positive manner. JDG should be coached to park himself  in front of the centre backs almost all the time so that they have a quick outlet for the ball to a player who is talented enough to hold the ball up and distribute further up the field. In this way the defenders do not find themselves either distracted or out of position due to the focus on things other than defense.

On Saturday evening TFC needs three points against a relatively tired travel weary side who has never ever won all three points on offer at BMO Field in four past visits. It’ll be tough, especially with Gordon out of the lineup. The league is doing TFC a favour I hope with the choice of official for Saturday’s match. MLS announced Friday that Jorge Gonzalez is in charge. TFC’s record with him in charge historically is four wins, three losses & two draws overall. The four wins and two draws have come from the six most recent games he has officiated involving TFC. The Reds have not tasted dfeat with him in charge since 2008.

Our friends over at TFCPICS will have their usual detailed pre game analysis of this match up soon. Please check it out here: http://viewfromthesouthstands.com

And tonight at Lamport Stadium Toronto FC Academy kicks off its 2011 campaign in the Canadian Soccer League against their counterparts from the Montreal Impact. Game time is 8:00 PM.

TFC legend Danny Dichio is going to be in charge for his first time ever as a head coach. Admission is only $10 and if you feel like supporting local soccer and seeing Danny Dichio coach his first game I urge you all to get out there and support local football!


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