Toronto FC meets Dallas tomorrow night at Pizza Hut Park for the first of three games TFC will contest in a week. Then it's back home to play Chivas US on Wednesday night and the Kansas City Wizards a week from tomorrow to conclude a busy seven days.
For the most part, Toronto has had an encouraging start to the season—only one loss, unbeaten on the road, and three minutes away from a win last weekend. However, it’s the last game against Dallas, which has started to concern fans in Southern Ontario.
The Dallas goal represented a return to last season, when TFC regularly conceded late goals and lost valuable points. Toronto’s defence, which was upgraded in the offseason, should stop this from becoming a regular occurrence in 2009. Stefan Frei is proving with every passing game that he can become a top quality goalkeeper for the next 10 to 15 years.
The addition of Adrian Serioux from Dallas has added strength to the rearguard and the fullback positions are set with Jim Brennan and Marvell Wynne. The only decision to make is who should partner Serioux in central defence.
Kevin Harmse has been getting the nod in recent games. Given the recent spate of goals conceded, it’s time to give Marco Velez a regular run in the side.
One thing which would stop any late goals conceded from becoming an issue would be the other problem faced by the team—a lack of goals from the strikers. Chad Barrett, Danny Dichio, and Pablo Vitti have yet to score this season.
Add to this the ongoing knee problem for O’Brian White, who has yet to play a minute in the regular season, and the front line is a concern.
As I have mentioned previously, I think it’s time for Barrett to be taken out of the lineup.
Coach John Carver’s faith in the American is admirable. However, all of the hard work in the world doesn’t change the fact that Barrett has been missing chances, which any striker worth his salt should be putting away.
Ironically enough, aside from White, the other injury concern facing Toronto, could be one which gives Barrett a stay of execution for at least one more match. Dwayne De Rosario has been listed as questionable with a hamstring pull.
The Canadian international took part in his first training session of the week on Friday declaring himself fit. However, hamstring injuries are notorious for being an ongoing problem if you try to return too early, and it may be best to start De Rosario on the bench.
FC Dallas has similar injury concerns to last weekend, save for Daniel Torres, who has recovered from a hamstring injury. The team will be buoyed by securing their first point of the season and will look to win their first game of 2009.
As always, the main threat posed from Dallas will come from their MLS 2008 All-Star forward, Kenny Cooper. Toronto did an excellent job of keeping him quiet in the 1-1 draw at BMO Field, and will need a similar effort in Texas to stop him influencing the game.
Toronto has never won in Dallas, losing 2-0 in their inaugural season, before improving with a 2-2 draw last year. As much as Toronto needs a win, a draw is the best they can expect tomorrow night.
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