It has certainly been an eventful start to the 2012 season for Toronto FC. It started with an impressive home and home cup tie win over the LA Galaxy, giving the fans what seemed like a preview of what to expect in the upcoming season. The season pulled a full 180, however, after a 3-1 loss to Seattle in the season opener and then a 3-0 loss to San Jose in the home opener. While they were losing their first two games, they also lost their leader Torsten Frings and last year’s goalkeeping hero Stefan Frei.
Toronto FC managed to follow the two MLS losses with a gutsy, well deserved 1-1 draw with Mexican side Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals on Wednesday. The game was very physical, playing into the hands of Santos.
TFC refused to lie down and be bullied around on their home pitch for a change, and managed to tough it out and play with the Mexicans for a full 90 minutes. Playing strong from kick off to the final whistle is something TFC knows they must work on so to see them come out and play that was against tough opposition was certainly encouraging.
Inconsistency has always been the Reds biggest problem so it will be vital for them to carry Wednesday’s momentum and aggression into Saturday’s meeting with the Columbus Crew.
Two games into the MLS season and the Reds are still in search of their first point. After two straight losses in which they allowed six total goals, Aron Winter’s club will look to get back on track against the Crew tomorrow.
In fifteen meetings with the Crew all-time TFC has just one win, coming in their most recent meeting in October of last season, a 4-2 win for TFC at Crew Stadium. Each of the last five meetings between the two teams at BMO Field have ended in a draw.
Winter is still in the process of tinkering with the lineup, so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod for TFC tomorrow. Ty Harden has had a dismal start to the season and it would be fair to suggest he does not deserve a spot in the starting XI. Miguel Aceval likes to push forward but that leaves them vulnerable at the back. Eckersley and Morgan should be no brainers at left and right back.
In midfield, Luis Silva did not play in the team’s midweek clash with Santos meaning he should be rested and ready to go come Saturday. He continues to get better and just a few weeks into his rookie season he is already a valuable piece in the TFC midfield.
Terry Dunfield and Julian De Guzman have been rather unimpressive up to this point in the season and both will need to step up their game in the coming week. With six points dropped already this season, TFC has very little margin for error. Every point is valuable especially at home for TFC considering their constant road struggles.
Up front Koevermans could very well be inserted back into the starting eleven after picking up a yellow card on Wednesday, causing him to miss the second leg this coming week. With Koevermans in the lineup, TFC often move away from their fast paced style of play and rely too much on the long ball. This is not how a team with TFC’s speed and youth should be playing, which provides a strong case for leaving Koevermans out of the starting eleven at least for the time being.
Ryan Johnson has featured in every game for the club this season and it is quite possible Winter gives him a rest with a trip to Mexico coming up this Wednesday.
Joao Plata was used as a substitute on Wednesday, meaning he should be back in the starting eleven against Columbus. Reggie Lambe and Nick Soolsma both showed some good flashes in Wednesday’s game but also looked somewhat overwhelmed at times. Soolsma was impressive at times with the ball at his feet, but his delivery on corner kicks left many scratching their heads.
Winter can tinker with the lineup as much as he likes, but he is running out of time. It is time for TFC to start winning games. This is a vital season for the franchise and it has not gotten off to a strong start. Saturday’s result will go a long way to show us what type of season we can expect from TFC in 2012.
(image courtesy of torontofc.ca)