Mood: Optimistically Excited
State of Mind: MLS who?
Location: Secret Supporter Couch
Weather: Strangely no rain - Towrads on vacation?
It's that time again; when we forget about MLS (oh wait, we kind of already did that) and instead look to CCL (Concacaf Champions League) for hope and glory. Unlike almost six seasons in MLS our Reds have seen some success in CCL; capped off by their (unlikely according to some) run through the tournament last year, where they were oh so close to advancing all the way until they ran into Santos Laguna down in Torreon. Sadly it was not to be as they ended up losing 7-4 on the aggregate, but it's time to start anew and that begins tonight against CD Aguila from El Salvador.
Watching our Reds in CCL play is often the most fun you can have as a TFC supporter - maybe it's the vibe in the crowd (I use that word loosely) or having new teams to cheer against or just the fact that it's not MLS play. Whatever it is there's just a different feel to it and should not be missed. It's also a different style of play and under former coach Aron Winter the team did quite well in adjusting and saw some success (final four!) in CCL. Whether new coach Paul Mariner is able to make the same adjustments will be unknown until oh about 8pm tonight. As TFC are in a group with non-MLS teams there's a more possession style of game on display and that is not currently TFC's forte.
Coming to town is the El Salvadoran side CD Aguila, currently fourth in the Primera Division and as their fans are quick to point out they were CCL champions as recently as 1976! The Super Orange (seriously, that's their nickname) are considered the weakest team in TFC's group for this stage. Maximum points against Aguila are paramount as the format of the CCL has changed for this year and only the top team in the group advances to the next round. Considering our Reds are up against our old "friends" Santos Laguna the need to win both matches against Aguila as well as take points from Santos cannot be stressed enough.
One of the questions being asked is whether or not Eric (the Red Card) Hassli will be playing this evening. Apparently it's a game time decision but as it's still not clear if he's 100% recovered from his ankle injury I don't expect to see him before this Saturday's game against the Chicago Fire. The Reds should be able to handle Aguila without his presence and why take the chance that he may be out for even longer? There are 3 more games in this round of CCL, plus MLS play to worry about so I hope to not see his name anywhere near the lineup.
Instead I expect that Luis Silva will start up top with Ryan Johnson and that the rest of the lineup will more closely resemble that of the one that took to the field in TFC's last win two weeks ago against the Rapids. Although Kurt Larson from The Sun is indicating that Andrew Wiedeman and not Eric Avila will start in the midfield - I hope that he's wrong as I feel that Avi's movement and speed with the ball would be welcomed in this match. However he doesn't appear to be featuring much in Mariner's plans and perhaps the size of Wiedeman will be a plus against Aguila.
I look at tonight's match as a way for TFC to get some of their mojo (no, not *that* MoJo!) back after they frittered it away on Saturday. I don't expect huge crowds which is unfortunate as it's a beautiful night, it's a later start time (that everyone has been begging for) and this is the closest that our Reds will come to anything resembling playoffs this season. And as I said above - it's really, really fun! And don't we all need some fun; especially as TFC supporters. Besides if you don't go the only way to watch is on the Concacaf website as it will not be broadcast on TV. I'll be there as always; giddy, hyper, anxious and ready to cheer them on to victory. Be there or be a parallelogram!
Los Links: And here are your usual suspects - The Yorkies, Waking The Red and Red Nation Online.