State of Mind: Wishing league games were played on Wednesdays
Location: Sunny supporter's sofa
Here we go again - time to see if TFC can stop the bleeding in MLS play and not get that woeful 0-9 tag permanently affixed next to their name in the record books. Maybe if we tell them that it's really a two leg cup competition against DCU? Hey, something has to help.
Yes, it's the Return of the Former Captains II: The Recaptaining - feels a little deja vu-ish doesn't it? Didn't we just do this - have a good game in the Voyageurs Cup and then have to face the very good DC United and deal with all the drama that encompasses? Admittedly the drama is lessened when it's not here in Toronto but any game that involves DeRo and Santos will always have some off the pitch elements added.
However this game has some subtle differences than the depressing, soul sucking one we witnessed two weeks ago. Most notably is the current form of our boys - while not storming the barricades they are undefeated in the last two weeks, have scored 3 goals and kept a clean sheet for over 180 minutes - these are accomplishments that shouldn't be ignored. Yes all of this happened in non-league play but an improvement in play is to be applauded and built upon.
One of the most important aspects of this has been the play of Adrian Cann and Doneil Henry as the CB pairing for the last two matches (amazing what happens when players get some time together isn't it?). Yes I know it's only two matches but what a difference, the defense has looked a lot less uncertain and sieve-like over those two games, I expect we'll see this as the permanent CB tandem for the rest of the season. Also finding his form of late is the ever present Ryan Johnson having scored a goal in each of the last two games. With TFC going with a more attack minded game plan Johnson has looked less tired and noticeably less frustrated out on the pitch. Other potential bright spots for night is the return of Danny Koevermans (although unlikely to start) and Nick Soolsma to the lineup. Both have seen sub minutes in the last two matches and Soolsma has looked very sharp; DCU will need to keep their eye on him if they hope to have Bill Hamid notch another clean sheet.
DC United faces some challenges in this game other than a newly confident (ish) TFC. Santos and Red killer Chris Pontius both picked up knocks in their previous game against Colorado and are not a lock to play tonight. There's also some possible defensive issues for DCU as usual backline starters Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakovic have been injured and again are not a certainty for tonight's match. With TFC finally playing a more energetic and forward minded game the DCU defense may be surprised by the change in tactics allowing our Reds to exploit some potential misconceptions.
All of that being said our boys are not in for an easy night at the office. They are playing one of the better teams in the league, on the road and without still injured captain Torsten Frings. Cann, Henry and Kocic will need to be near perfect at the back and the midfield and the fullbacks will need to be on their A game to deal with the speedy Hamdi Salihi and the always dangerous DeRo. Add to that the pressure of the upcoming Voyageurs Cup final leg match this Wednesday at BMO (as well as the recent coaching change drama) and you have to worry just a little that their focus may not be 100% on this game.
I'm not sure what I expect for the outcome of the this match - the optimistic side of me knows that they can steal some points tonight and begin to truly play as the team that we expected from the beginning of the season. The cynical side says they're going to get that terrible 0-9 record to sport. Regardless of the outcome I just want to see them take the game to United. Keep it up with the attacking, ball moving game we've seen these past two weeks - let the boys play and let the chips fall where they may.
COME ON YOU REDS!!
|Let's blow them up, again.|