Since I am not genetically designed for the heat in Toronto, being from a granite rock in the North Atlantic, I frankly am not exactly able to think too deeply this week considering how fried I feel from this crazy hot summer. With that in mind I am just going to get to what I think are some of the important facts to know before this evenings crucial road game for Toronto FC against New York.

  •  MLS Official Ricardo Salazar is in charge this evening. Historically TFC has been in seven MLS matches he has officiated, with a 2-2-3 record. We of course recently saw him in Toronto on July 10th when he was in charge of Toronto’s 1-0 win against Colorado.
  • Away to the Red Bulls Toronto has only won on one occasion (a 3-1 victory in October 2008). This will be Toronto’s first time visiting the new Red Bull Arena. At their new home the Red Bulls have compiled a decent home record of five wins and one draw, only losing twice.
  • In the last five games for New York, including Sunday past in Chicago, they have drawn four games and lost one. Their last win in the league came forty six days ago against Kansas City. Toronto comes to town on a modest two win streak with four goals to the good.
  • On Sunday past the Red Bulls looked like a strong side that was frankly unlucky to secure a win in Chicago. They outshot the Fire 22-5 (sixteen of those shots came in the second half after Thierry Henry was subbed off) yet were unable to convert any of them to goals. Striker/Midfielder Macoumba Kandji missed about for or six wonderful opportunities to score in my estimation.
  • New York plays host to the LA Galaxy on Saturday afternoon, while Toronto’s next game is not until next Tuesday against Cruz Azul in the CONCACAF Champions League. Schedule wise TFC’s has a better time of it at least for now.
  • New York, the recent DP hoopla notwithstanding (Henry and Rafa Marques joining the team from Barcelona of course) is still in a position where they need to sell tickets. Hence the DP’s I guess. TFC of course has most of its MLS home game tickets already long sold so these kinds of issues are alien to us. To date New York have averaged approximately 16,300 per home game which is only 64% capacity for their new arena.  My point in mentioning this is that New York needs to sell tickets. And with Thierry Henry just getting back into game shape, plus complaining of a slight groin pull on Sunday I would not be surprised if Toronto only sees Henry for either the first half or he comes on as a second half sub if the game is still in doubt for New York. The Galaxy are a marquis matchup for New York while TFC at this point is just another MLS club.
  • Bad blood exists between these two clubs and there will be some familiar faces on display this evening. Greg Sutton is expected to start in goal for New York, his first league outing this season, as regular net minder Bounda  Coundoul is on international duty. Carl Robinson, who left Toronto with some acrimony and bad blood, especially between him and the front office, is also a possibility to either start or see some action.
  • Six of the projected starting XI for TFC will of course remember the 5-0 debacle at the meadowlands last year that ended Toronto’s season and cost them a shot at the playoffs. I am sure that to some degree at least this memory will be a motivator (or I bloody well hope it is) for Toronto.
  • As well if you remember back to the this pre season, TFC designated player Julian De Guzman injured Red Bulls forward Juan Pablo Angel in a 4-nil loss where Angel scored a hat trick and De Guzman was straight red carded for a really nasty two footed tackle on him. Players remember such things and I would not be surprised one single bit if something happens this evening in the way of  physical retribution on Julian.

New York needs this win to break a streak of five league games without a victory. Toronto needs to get critical points on the road and to build upon two good results against Motagua and Chivas. New York has the Galaxy in three days and has internationals (Coundoul, Marques, Miller and Richards) away playing for their countries, thinning out their squad. Toronto has injuries to Sanyang and recent standout Maicon Santos to contend with. To make matters worse defender Dan Gargan is suspended for yellow card accumulation and midfielders Ty Harden and Martin Saric are questionable at best for this evening with a calf and quad strain respectively.

I can’t with a clear conscience pick TFC to win a game on the road until they show me something closer to a consistent game away from BMO Field. Tonight they have the chance to climb ahead of New York in the standings and also get a leg up on them when it comes to any potential tie breakers in what looks likely to be a close playoff race. Nothing has frustrated me more with this team in 2010 (other than Mo of course) than the Jeckyll/Hyde routine between home and away results. I would like tonight to see what Mista can do for a full 90 minutes, and I expect that he will definitely play the full game.

We can expect a better New York team to show up in Toronto in ten days time than the one TFC plays tonight. What TFC has done tactically on the road (with two exceptions this year) has failed and failed miserably. I say tonight is time for something different. I hope that TFC recognizes the opportunity they have in front of them to hopefully get something from this match and plays positive soccer to try and win the game.


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