Well, here we are again. Last year saw all sorts of bad records broken by Toronto FC, both at club level and league wide, but at least we could all tell ourselves that it was growing pains towards a brighter future. #preseason2012 I said, it's all good. Now it's 2012, and as you all know, we're on the verge of adding another dubious record, longest losing streak to start a season.
Regular readers may think that that clip looks familiar. I busted it out last year before the Portland away game when TFC were on the verge of losing their 5th straight game, which would have been a team record. That seems like such a simpler happier time in hindsight (for those of a superstitious bent, TFC didn't actually lose that day, here's hoping).
We have of course already claimed that record (and then some) this year, now we get to go for the league record, and poetically enough, it's Dwayne de Rosario who'll have the chance to ensure that Aron Winter, Tom Anselmi and anyone else he feels have wronged him get their names associated with that little bit of infamy. I imagine he'd get a certain satisfaction out of that. Of course we all knew De Ro would be a super motivated force to be reckoned with, but who's that playing up front and banging in all sorts of goals? Maicon Santos? Really? There's plenty of other offensive threats as well who'll probably be licking their chops when looking at TFC's comical recent defending.
The good news is that with Emiliano Dudar injured, DC's defence is also looking a bit weak these days, so there'll hopefully be plenty of chances at the other end for Ryan Johnson, or Danny Koevermans if he's back as media reports from training suggest he might be. So what sort of game and lineup will we see from TFC today? I'll take a random stab at that after the jump.
Aron Winter was quoted as saying "(We'll)start not to lose the game, but that doesn't mean we're going to play with everybody in the box." which makes it sound as if he's not hoping for a gunfight, which is probably a good thing really, the commitment to defence shown against Montreal is a good thing. They'll need to improve how they do it as Montreal still had plenty of chances and you've got to think DC will capitalise if given those chances.
Milos Kocic in goal is obvious, but who'll be in front of him. I think the only real intrigue in defence is at Right Back. Ashtone Morgan's a lock at Left Back, and for better or worse, I think we'll see the Cann and Aceval Centre Back partnership again, if it wasn't changed after the Real Salt Lake game, I'd say that's a sign that Winter's giving them a few games to try and develop some chemistry and show they can be a reliable pairing, probably until Dicoy Williams is fit and ready to play again, at which point he can be given a try if things aren't working out.
Richard Eckersley was the latest first teamer to be moved to the naughty spot on the bench after a rough game against RSL continued a poor start to the season for him. Doneil Henry, despite a mistake or two, and without coming close to the offensive upside Eckersley brings, was solid defensively so exactly who starts there should be a good indication of Winter's priorities. If he goes with 4 at the back, I'd guess at Henry to solidify it, if we see a return of Torsten Frings in the back 5, then Eckersley is a more natural fit as a wing back. I'd guess at a flat back 4 with Henry on the right.
In midfield, well we've seen the all DM lineup of Frings, Julian de Guzman and Terry Dunfield over the last couple of games, and given the threat of De Rosario coming from midfield, we probably won't see a change there. Up front, despite a very quiet game against Montreal, Eric Avila did enough against RSL (in the MLS team of the week no less) to keep his place on the left wing, and I'd say Reggie Lambe should keep his place as well for now, even if Nick Soolsma is ready to go. At Centre Forward it'll be one of Ryan Johnson or Danny Koevermans. Hopefully Koevermans will be fit enough to go and can find his goalscoring form quickly, and give Johnson a well earned rest.
Overall, I think we'll see another defensive effort from TFC, and hopefully they can do it well. I doubt it though, I think it's completely inevitable that De Ro will score at least once, and from there it's a question of how TFC can react, if they can open up and chase the game. The games against Chicago and Real Salt Lake suggest they're getting better at coming from behind, it's just a question of what they do once they tie it up or take a lead. Maybe the best thing to hope for is a very very late equaliser and winner that doesn't give DC enough time to come back.
Really, I'm not holding out much hope that things will suddenly click today, I think De Ro will score, and we will get that 0-8 record all to ourselves. Time to breakout the #preseason2013 hashtag and focus on the next lousy record we can go after. Prove me wrong kids, prove me wrong! Please.