State of Mind: Optimistic, tinged by a touch of anxiety
Location: Non air-conditioned splendour; later - BMO
This time let's kill New York
As fun as the win on Wednesday was (ooh, alliteration!), it's time to turn our focus to the NYED and acknowledge that this will not be an easy test. These are no bottom feeders coming to visit BMO; the Red Bulls sit second in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the MLS. In the past NY coming to town meant worrying about Thierry Henry; but this season while still dangerous he is joined by the lethal Kenny Cooper who already has 11 goals on the season and has long been a thorn in TFC's side. Combine that with a very strong and physical midfield anchored by Dax McCarty and Joel Lindpere (watch out for his delivery into the box!) on the wing and you've got a recipe for potential disaster.
Really the big question is whether or not the boys can build on Wednesday's very positive performance in Montreal and ride that wave of confidence into tonight's game. Now that Danny has found his form can he and Ashtone Morgan continue to terrorize opposition keepers and defenders? You know that NY has been watching video on the duo for the past two days looking for ways to stop the hottest foot in MLS. Will the midfield (Frings was HUGE on Wednesday) - which has looked very good - be able to absorb the pressure and break up the very attack minded Red Bulls? Will JDG and Frings be able to go for a full 90 - because if TFC aren't up by a significant number of goals when (if) those two get subbed off? - cover your eyes because it won't be pretty. And will Soolsma see the field again? He looked quite good as a second half sub on Wednesday (assist to RJ!) in his first minutes since the "Escobar Incident". I hope that all is forgiven in TFCland for Nicky as I think they will need him in the coming months to continue to succeed.
I'm looking forward to seeing how our boys respond to playing one of the best teams in the league when they're full of confidence. Having scored 8 goals in the past 3 games, keeping a clean sheet and getting a win on the road - all of this has them feeling pretty good - and maybe, just maybe helping them realize that hey, they actually know how to play this game! I'll be watching for Morgan to continue his exceptional play of late, hope to see Danny continue his scoring streak and for the midfield of Avi, JDG, Frings & Dunfield to keep up their very nice form of late - but it will be a battle as NY plays a more physical game - both JDG & Dunfield will have to cautious of getting cards as (especially for JDG) their reputations precede them.
This should be (really, it should) a good game to watch. Our boys seem to be a happier lot and have started to come together (finally) as a team. Expect goals - I don't see a repeat of Wednesday's clean sheet - and lots of battles in the midfield. And I know it's the long weekend, and there's a ton of stuff going on but come on, it's time for a little revenge against these Red Bulls wouldn't you say? And it's almost Canada Day so why not celebrate our nation's birthday by coming down to BMO and cheering on our Reds? Hope to see you there!
COME ON YOU REDS!!
Long Weekend Links: Wake up! Time for some previews! The Yorkies, Waking The Red and Red Nation Online.
One last thing; a farewell to Joao "Jimmy" Plata who will be returning to his parent club LDU Quito in Ecuador. While a favourite for his personality, salsa goal celebrations and CCL form (thank you for the Dallas win little big man!), Platita was struggling here in the MLS and in my opinion was a good sub, but not a starter. Nonetheless there are some sad fans out there - take heart, in the long run this will likely be better for his career. It is uncertain (and unlikely) if he will return to TFC next season, but for now I leave you with this: