Without Koevermans, Ryan Johnson's going to have to keep on scaring the wits out of MLS defenders by himself.
Yes, it was confirmed on Monday that Danny Koevermans is out, and not just for summer, but as far as this season is concerned, forever, that he (well, just his knee really, but you know) has been blown to pieces.
Sadly that now becomes the overbearing theme to this game, the rest of the transfer window and depending on how things go within that window, maybe the rest of the season. Just how exactly will the goals, skill, presence and goal threat the Dutchman brought be replaced. Just how successful the answer to that question is will determine a lot about how the season goes. In a way it's fortunate that the injury happened now before the window closed or Toronto FC painted themselves into a corner by using up their recently created cap space and DP spot. They do at least have a chance to work something out up front. On the other hand, I really hope there isn't a panic buy that throws off whatever the latest grand plan might be. Defence was identified as the area to be improved, it still is, if we have a chance to bring in players that can help us there for the next few years, please don't give up on that now for the sake of a fix to a short term problem, in a season that's already pretty much over.
Anyway, this is supposed to be a preview of the Colorado game isn't it, and It's highly unlikely there'll be any signings before this game, so unless we abandon the shiny new 4-4-2, we'll be seeing Ryan Johnson paired up top with either new guy Andrew Weideman, or maybe, in a stretch Luis Silva.
Doesn't exactly sound promising does it, but there's a couple of reasons for hope that we might be able to win one for Danny and get a 3rd straight league win (that would be the 2nd time in our 5 + seasons we've managed that. Sigh.).
First up is the fact that TFC's last 4 goals have all come from the midfield, through Luis Silva, Torsten Frings and even Terry Dunfield getting in on the act. Of course for that one we have to realise the part Koevermans played. He assisted on Silva's goal against the Revs, and with Koevermans around, a defence always has to be worried about him in a way they don't have to be around say Ryan Johnson, which leaves more opportunities for others. Goals will be harder to come by for everyone now.
The other is the Colorado Rapids themselves, who are in a wee bit of shambles themselves these days. They've lost all 3 games they've played in July, against the motliest of current MLS motley crews. Vancouver, a team even TFC can beat, Seattle, who've won precisely 0 out of their other last 11 league games, and Dallas, who hadn't won a game in any competition for 3 months! Given that record, it'd be almost embarrassing not to beat the Rapids, Koevermans or no Koevermans. They also have injury problems of their own with Pablo Mastroeni out with concussion problems, though they're not quite at the stage where they might have to play Joseph Nane/Nane Joseph, whatever his name is.
Probably their biggest threat is Argentine midfielder Martin Rivero who's new to the league this season and looking very good so far, if Frings and Dunfield can keep him quiet, that'll go a long way to cutting down the service to the strikers. Up front, they've still, as always, got their classic big man little man partnership of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. The 'as always' is the important part of that sentence though, as though they are a good tandem, they've been here plenty of times before, and never come away with a win. The Rapids have indeed lost at BMO Field to 5 different TFC coaches. 2-1 to Mo Johnston, 3-1 to John Carver, 3-2 to Chris Cummins, 1-0 to Preki and 2-1 to Aron Winter. So, no pressure Paul.
Charged with keeping out Casey and Cummings, well for now it''s still looking like the world's shakiest centre back combo of Richard Eckersley and Logan Emory won't be improved on in time and thus will be out there again, with Ashtone Morgan on the left and unless Jeremy hall is back, Doneil Henry again on the right. It still doesn't inspire confidence even with Saturday's clean sheet, I'd say the 3 conceded against Philly and the 2 against the McWhitecaps are much better indicators of the chances that the Rapids will get, then it will just come down to luck and Milos Kocic as to how many goals that leads to.
In midfield, well it seems like Paul Mariner likes to keep on playing the players he likes, and it doesn't seem like there's a massive amount of options within that category, so I'd say it's fairly certain we'll be seeing Frings, Dunfield and Reggie Lambe, and of course Ryan Johnson will as always, forever and ever amen (he'll surely get a rest against Liverpool though, won't he?), be one of the players up front. The only question is who'll be supporting him.
Given his goals in consecutive matches, Luis Silva will be in the team somewhere, exactly where that is will depend on just how much Mariner believed in all the praise he was heaping on Andrew Wiedeman when he came over from Dallas. If he does genuinely think that Wiedeman is "one of the best finishers I've seen in the modern era" then he could well be up front allowing Silva to bring his goalscoring threat from midfield. If that was a bit of hyperbole on Mariner's behalf, then I think we might well see Silva pushed up alongside Johnson, with Eric Avila coming into the midfield to replace him.
However TFC line up, chances will be harder to come by for them, and with reinforcements not yet arrived at the back, they should be as easy as ever to come by for Colorado. That inbalance has been there all along though under Mariner, it's happened often enough that 'absorb pressure and hit them on the counter attack' is pretty obviously plan A. Until now, Koevermans ability to make the most of a rare chance has masked the imbalance somewhat and made it work fairly well. Hopefully someone else can step up into that role, but I'm not convinced that person is currently on the roster. I think this is the time the Rapids finally break their hoodoo and get their first win at BMO outside of a cup final.