After what feels like a lot longer than it actually has been, the Reds will hopefully be picking up where they left off on Saturday after stringing together 3 consecutive victories against difficult opponents. But before TFC welcomes Manchest…I mean the Yank…wait a minute…New York City FC to BMO Field for their first ever encounter, the home team will be honoring a very special player for club and country with an impressive testimonial match that should be a spectacle in itself.
Dwayne De Rosario – a polarizing name around the soccer community in Toronto as many of you know. Some love him to pieces, while others will never forget his infamous “cheque signing” stunt. Regardless of which side of the great divide you find yourself on, there’s no denying just how talented a player DeRo was. Numbers don’t lie.
DeRo was and still is the definition of a competitor. No matter the team, the game, or the situation, Dwayne always wanted to win, and win he did.
His trophy case must be a sight to see. Four MLS Cup championships (2 – San Jose, 2 – Houston), a league MVP title (DC United), MLS Cup MVP, Goal of the Year, numerous All-Star game appearances, and these are just some of his club accolades.
Since joining TFC way back in 2010, DeRo has almost sole ownership of every possible club record. To name a few: all-time leading scorer, most goals in a season, most league goals in a season, most goals in a match, most goals in a league match (tied)…and the list goes on and on. As if all that isn’t enough, DeRo also happens to be the Canadian national team’s all-time leading scorer.
Where ever DeRo went, he was among the best, and even if he wasn’t, he damn well played like it. Should TFC ever consider adding to the Wall of Honour, there is no question in my mind, that Dwayne De Rosario deserves a spot on it.
The DeRo Testimonial match really feels like a blending of different eras in TFC’s short but eventful history as well as some from MLS’ elite and Canada’s national team: Brian Ching, Danny Koevermans, Kei Kamara, Amado Guevara, Ali Gerba, Danny Dichio, Paul Stalteri, Jaime Moreno, David Edgar, Julian De Guzman, Simeon Jackson, Adrian Serioux, Tosaint Ricketts, Jon Conway, Rick Titus, Kenny Stamatopolous, David Monsalve, and an interesting addition, Junior Hoilett. There are others, but the players listed are most definitely the main attractions. If you’re a TFC fan or Canadian soccer fan in general, you don’t want to miss this. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
After the festivities of the testimonial are complete, TFC fans will be again treated to their in form first team who will be taking on a surging but still dead last NYCFC squad. Although NYC has managed back to back victories and have gained points in 4 of their last 5 league matches, the expansion sides struggles to score and defend are apparent. While David Villa and Mix Diskerud are an ever-present threat, it’s the recent play of Patrick Mullins, Mehdi Ballouchy, and Kwadwo Poku that have made NYCFC a dangerous team. We’ll see just how soul sucking that loss to their rival New York Cosmos during US Open Cup play will be.
TFC will be welcoming back players who missed the past couple of matches while on international duty, namely, captain Michael Bradley.
The General’s play for his national side has been tremendous as of late, and should he be able to translate that onto the field for his club team, well it spells danger for whoever is in his opposition. Also returning to the lineup are Canadian internationals Jonathan Osorio and Ashtone Morgan who played a big part of Canada’s victories over Dominica in World Cup Qualifying.
Obviously, the spot light will be on the attacking tandem of Giovinco and Altidore, Toronto’s dynamic duo. Giovinco has been red hot as of late and shows no signs of cooling off. His dominance has come at a time when TFC was shorthanded due to international team call ups and injuries. If he is able to instantly begin clicking with Jozy Altidore again, well I’ll just allow your mind to wander from there. And even in the event that all chemistry between the two has disappeared, Seba has proven that he has no issue with doing it all by himself.
Although NYCFC is sitting in the Eastern Conference basement, they aren’t just any ordinary expansion team, and will hopefully be taken very seriously by the TFC. As heavy favourites as the Reds might be, NYCFC could prove to be a bogey team for them and spoil the good thing TFC has going.
A win for the Reds will push them up into 3rd spot in the East with games in hand; an excellent position to be in considering the stretch of home games coming up in the schedule and how catchable the Revs and DC would be. More importantly, with the Gold Cup just around the corner and the likelihood of losing several members of the starting XI, gaining as many points as possible to save up for a rainy day would pay huge dividends for Toronto’s future league aspirations (the playoffs).
Saturdays match will be a clash of 2 rising stars and no matter the outcome, an incredible day of soccer in the city of Toronto.
(image courtesy of mlssoccer.com)