Well, that was fun wasn't it, a team that Toronto FC got to boss around for once, Ryan Johnson getting subbed off, Logan Emory getting to take his chance with a free kick just outside the box, and five goals. Five. Champions League, we really were having a laugh. If only you'd been there.
But all good things must come to an end, or at least be temporarily put on hold, and it's back to MLS and the long grind back to respectability and maybe not last place. Last weekend didn't help in that regard of course as TFC lost and some other struggling teams got points, thank the footie gods for Portland, making us look slightly better in that respect.
That grind to respectability won't be made easier tonight as Chicago have shown themselves to be a decent team, and currently sit comfortably in the 5th and final playoff spot, 13 ahead of Toronto. Lose and we'll be 16 points back, which will surely be enough for all those "Well, if TFC does this and does this then they might be in with a chance for the playoffs" type articles to be finally put to bed for the season.
Not content with that 'decent team' moniker, Chicago have recently added Alvaro Fernandez, merely for allocation money, taking advantage of Seattle's need for an empty DP spot. They also added a DP of their own, the fantastically named Dutchman, Sherjill Macdonald, a striker who came up through Ajax's system but has never really caught on with much success at a whole bunch of clubs, though he did score 6 goals in 7 games for Hereford United back in the day, so that's nice.
TFC of course will be hoping that their own recently acquired DP striker Eric Hassli will be able to play and have the Hassli era start as close to the end of the Koevermans era as possible. He made it to the subs bench on Wednesday which is a good sign, though it's probably for the best that he wasn't risked in a game where we clearly didn't need him. If he can put in an appearance tonight, even if it from the subs bench, it will help greatly as otherwise we could be looking at another toothless performance like we saw against Houston. Quincy Amarikwa and Andrew Wiedeman have shown themselves to not really be good enough, and there's only so much that Ryan Johnson can do up front. Luis Silva should at least be able to help out, as his perfectly placed header for his goal on Wednesday night showed off his finishing ability, to go with a very good all round performance. Reggie Lambe also scored and he got two in the home game against the Fire so there's another reason for hope to spring eternal.
At the back, it'll also be the same old same old not quite good enough. New signing, former Celtic man Darren o'Dea won't be playing, and given he'll be off playing for the Republic of Ireland later in the month, it'll probably be quite a while before we do see him in red. That of course means it's still Richard Eckersley and co back there and we all know how that's probably going to work out. Generally solid within Paul Mariner's team wide framework and defensive focus, with some moments of out of position caused calamity. Those will lead to some heroic last ditch tackles or blocks, and also plenty of chances, requiring Milos Kocic to stand on his head to keep TFC in it.
One way in which TFC's new more direct style of play will help cut down on calamaties is with less passing around in front of Kocic. In April Chicago were very clearly focused on harassing the crap out of our defenders to give them no time to build attacks, which worked fantastically for them as they scored in the first minute after forcing Torsten Frings to cough up a pass just outside the box. That shouldn't be a problem this time around, but there'll still be lots of opportunities for Dominic Oduro and the rest of Chicago's speedy forwards to cause problems. So it probably will come down to Milos Kocic, who'll hopefully be able to put his gaffe against CD Àguila behind him and put in another good performance, that whole standing on his head thing I mentioned before, similar to what he did against New England a few weeks back.
I think it's unlikely really, so let's hope there's some answers up front, whether that's Hassli provided or not. There were a lot of things that went in TFC's favour on Wednesday, but it once again seems like our cup form is much better than the league form. It'd be nice if we could pretend every game was a cup game. Fortunately here's Richard Eckersley to take that up a notch and say that every game from now to the end of the season now is like a cup final, yes he really did bring out that cliche.
Hopefully they can convince themselves of that. If they merely put in just another regular MLS level performance, even the improved standard of the MarinEra, away against a good MLS team, then the eleven that played against Houston will find itself very hard pressed to get a result. I'll predict a 2-1 loss.