Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! Your main event!
After a couple of hectic weeks surrounding TFC and the soon to be outgoing CEO of MLSE, Tim Leiweke, TFC’s playoff aspirations took a bit of a hit after dropping 2 much needed points against Chicago in the last minute of the match. How typical of them!
Not only has TFC been caught in the standings by pretty much the remainder of playoff eligible teams in the Eastern conference, but 3 key players: two of their top defenders, Justin Morrow and captain Steven Caldwell, and Jermain Defoe, will all be missing significant time due to injury at the point in the season when their teammates need them the most.
A home and home against the Philadelphia Union, an away match against Chicago and a home match against Chivas are 4 of their next 5 matches that could very well determine the fate of this franchise in their quest to break a 7 year playoff drought.
But before embarking on their trip to Philly, the New England Revolution will be coming to town this weekend with their shiny new toy, more than likely making his way into the lineup for the very first time.
For those who don’t know, New England (through a blind draw, I might add) have signed 32 year old, German born, American international, Jermaine Jones to a DP contract. Jones, who featured prominently in the American national team at the World Cup, played the tournament of his life, seeming to carry his nation on his back for the better part of their time in the tournament.
The exact impact on his new team for the remainder of this season is uncertain, but his presence should give the Revs a much needed boost just in time for their playoff push.
But Toronto is no underdog in this fight. Both teams stack up very well against each other heading into this weekend’s clash.
New England bets Jones, but TFC is more than able to match that and raises one Michael Bradley.
The General, as he has been called here in Toronto, has taken quite a bit of criticism since the World Cup. Many are claiming he has lost focus or that he is overrated. But as we have seen at times this season, he is more than capable of rising to the occasion. This would be the occasion for him to rise to.
The last time these two sides met, New England walked away from BMO Field with all 3 points, much to the dismay of all in attendance. An 82nd minute penalty taken by Lee Nguyen was the dagger on the day.
To break down the surging Revs, the Reds will require the services of all their key players to contribute. Gilberto has been on a goal a game pace and will hopefully continue that. Quietly playing the role of maestro is Luke Moore, who’s beautiful through ball from half to feed Gilberto, deserved some sort of honour. A resurgent Jonathan Osorio is exactly where he wants to be in this squad and has contributed fantastically since his slow start. The Oso of late is the Oso that fans fell in love with.
This will no doubt be a midfield battle, with two titans of the American national team going head to head in Jones and Bradley. But with playoff implications for both teams, this game should have all the elements of a playoff game itself. A win for TFC gives them some much needed breathing room in that 3rd spot in the East. A loss not only puts New England level on points, but gives Columbus the opportunity to jump into that 3rd place…then it would really be “game on”.
I don’t want to call this a ‘must win’, but realistically, it is.
If it was meaningful soccer late in the season that TFC fans wanted…well here you go! Come out and make BMO Field the fortress it once was!
Come on you Reds!
(image courtesy of mlssoccer.com)