State of Mind: Hoping for the best?
Location: My happy place
It's Trillium Cup time! What's that you say? What's the Trillium Cup? Umm, you do watch TFC right? OK, you can be forgiven for already forgetting about the basically manufactured rivalry between our Reds and the Columbus Crew back in 2006. As our closest (at the time) geographic rivals this made a certain amount of sense - after all what is sport without a good rivalry - and thus the Trillium Cup was born. It does rankle a wee bit that in the brief time the two teams have contested for the TC (given for aggregate wins over the course of the season) that TFC have only managed to win it just once; that being accomplished on the strength of the 4-2 victory in Columbus last season - most memorable for TFC fans as the game in which Stefan Frei was injured and lost to the team for the remainder of the season.
And the history between the two teams has not been shall we say, congenial? There has been some bad blood during road trips - I liken it to Crew supporters' jealousy over the at times tremendous travelling support that TFC has been known to put together; especially for games to Columbus. So there is always a heightened atmosphere around these matches regardless of what is happening in the season for either team. In this case of course is the floundering of the good ship TFC with little or nothing left to play for this season except to try to salvage a little pride (and maybe win some CCL matches) and why not with a wee bit of silverware? It's unlikely but hey, worth a shot right? I mean, what else do we have? Oh that's sad; all of our hopes on the Trillium Cup? Oh dear - hey CCL, how you doin'?
Unlike TFC the Crew are still well in the race for one of the final playoff positions and having something more tangible than pride (and that shiny cup that we stole last year) to play for makes them a somewhat fearsome opponent. Did I just call Columbus fearsome? Why yes, yes I did. And TFC will need to see better from the entire team in order to pull off a result tonight. And of course history has not been kind to TFC in their trips to Columbus with last year's shocking (it was, trust me) win being the only time they've come away with 3 points. Who's nervous? Umm, I am.
I will be curious to see what Mariner decides to do with the starting XI tonight - does he rest players with games in Houston and against the hated Santos Laguna coming up in the next six days? Or just put them out there and ask them to do their jobs? They are professional athletes, this is what they train for and are paid for; and if you ask any one of them if they'd rather play than sit around or practice - they'll all answer play. I doubt we'll see any change to the CB pairing, but I hope that RJ moves back up top and allows Silva to drop back. I also say give Dunfield a rest - he was invisible on Saturday - put Avi in and give Amerikwa a shot (but please keep Wiedeman on the bench) since Lambe is still unavailable.
It will fall to Hassli, Johnson and Silva to try to penetrate the Crew defense which is one of the best in the league and for a Danny Koevermans-less TFC, this is not an easy task. Hell, it wasn't easy with Danny...sigh. As always set pieces will be a "oh dear god no" area for our Reds with the likes of Crew DP Jairo Arrieta causing all sorts of difficulty for opposition team (so deadly with the ball). This isn't going to be an easy one kids - hell, they never are with TFC - I'll be watching and hoping that they give us something to cheer about.
COME ON YOU REDS!
Shiny Trillium Links: The Yorkies, Waking The Red (Dave, James) and Red Nation Online.