Sunday, July 8, 2012

Time For Some Less Than Brotherly Love In The Battle of the Basement

Mood: Cautiously optimistic
State of Mind: Still too damn hot to think
Location: Still right in front of the fan

It's a rare Sunday afternoon match for TFC and they continue their roadtrip with a swing through Philly to take on the second worst team in MLS (yes, we're still the worst), the Union.  You remember them right? That team that our Reds got their first MLS win of this tumultuous season against? I know that it was way back in May but you can't have forgotten already!  You didn't forget? Excellent; hopefully our boys haven't forgotten either.

Like TFC, the Union have gone through some changes since that game back in May. While Aron Winter didn't get shown the door until further into the international break, Union's coach Piotr Nowack was sent packing fairly soon after losing to the "worst team in the world". Once again Philadelphia seems to be our sister (sorry, brother) squad in terms of performance and drama. However again they are responding and playing just that little bit better than TFC which means even if the Reds win today they will still be the lone occupant of the MLS basement - hmm, maybe we should decorate?

Included in that just a bit more effective play was their win over the Galaxy on Wednesday night; which means that although the Union are also in the midst of an ugly stretch of multiple games they'll be coming into today's match with perhaps a shade more confidence having earned those valuable 3 points. Although beating the Galaxy isn't that great an accomplishment these days...

Now I am in no way saying that the Union have somehow become an unstoppable opponent; not in the least. In fact this is a match that our boys stand an excellent chance of coming away with all 3 points.  Both teams are tired, both have been playing two games a week, both will be playing in the same unrelenting heat and both are still very much trying to prove something to themselves, to their fans and to the other teams in the league.  Not that I care about what the Union have to prove of course; I only wish to see our Reds continue on some sort of path to respectability and hey a win against, well anybody would sure go a long way to seeing that happen.  Yes I know I'm stating the obvious but TFC need to do the obvious things if this season is going to have any sort of positive look to it.

The same questions remain for today's game: 

1. Will Danny continue on his goal scoring streak? I'm going with yes, otherwise don't expect a win.
2. Will the backline still look shaky and uncertain on set pieces? Again, I'll sadly say yes. Oh when will our CBs be healthy (or when will the transfer window gods smile upon us?)
3. Will the midfield continue it's strong play and keep breaking up the opposition attack? I'll go with a qualified yes - I think JDG (health issues hopefully at bay) needs to start to make that happen.
4. Will Mariner be more willing to bring subs on when players start to fail? I'm going with a maybe on this one - past experience says no, but these games are starting to wear on the players and the two a week pace isn't ending soon.
5. Will TFC put in a complete 90 minute performance? That remains to be seen.

There are a lot of positive signs going into this game; the knocks that Danny and Terry Dunfield picked up on Wednesday seem to have been minor so Mariner will have his preferred starting XI ready. TFC were the better team in the second half on Wednesday night and should be building off of that performance. And they've had an extra day of rest and have been in Philly for an extra day so should be well acclimated and set to go.  

Sadly the delightful vagaries of a retail schedule mean I won't be watching this game - considering the last time I couldn't watch they won 3-0 in Montreal perhaps this is a good sign - so I will be relying on the twitterverse to keep me updated. I've got a good feeling about this one folks; here's hoping I'm right.


Link It Up Baby: And here are your usual suspects with the pre-game breakdowns - The Yorkies, Waking The Red, Partially Obstructed View and Red Nation Online.

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