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Preview of Toronto FC's game in New York. This one gets weird. You try writing "there's nothing to play for other than pride and fighting for a place in next year's squad" game in and game out. Also, I was kind of drunk.
Well, after failing their audition in the role of spoiler in Hollywood, Toronto FC now take their talents and their long running production of Les Miserables to the off-off Broadway that is Harrison, New Jersey. Once again they're up against a glamorous and easily dislikeable collection of players to give a good reason to care about the game. As well as that, there's also the previous history of this fixture.
Last week was a chance to dream a dream of days gone by and the early season highs of the CCL games against L.A and wonder where it all went wrong. This week we can go back to that 5-0 defeat on the cusp of playoff qualification back in 2009. The dramatic opening scene to the chaotic reactionary downward spiral that has been the last 3 seasons. Watch the highlights here, in all their waterlogged, NFL marked pitch glory, you'll be surprised at how many chances TFC had in the first 17 minutes of the game before Chad Barrett got injured, seriously we were all over them for a while.
They reprised that 5-0 defeat last year, the penultimate game before the transfer window officially opened and Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans joined in. After the depressing Preki directed act 1, surely that game was just one last low, an eye rollingly obvious symbolic dramatic turning point early in act 2 before things got better and we moved on to the uplifting triumphant happy ending. Nope, settle in folks, we're now on to act 3 and they're really playing up the bad times here. Who knows how long this one's going to last?
Can you tell I'm struggling to come up with anything to write about for yet another dead game at the end of the season? It is of course about playing for pride and the chance to solidify a spot in next year's roster, but that storyline's getting thoroughly dull. I wouldn't say there's any of the supporting cast that have really stepped up and shown their stuff in the last few games, so I really can't see it changing in this one.
Who'll get the chance? Well, Milos Kocic is once again again going to be staying home with the kids, a sensible decision given what's at stake for TFC here, meaning Freddy Hall will once again be in goal. He's shown he's got the physical talents, but seems to be lacking in focus, something which could be deadly if Thierry Henry notices and tries a quick free kick or perhaps another 'olympico'.
Notes and tweets from training suggest Richard Eckersley is ready to go, great news that concussion fears proved not to be serious, so he'll more than likely be back at Centre Back, reuniting the usual Hall, Eckersley, O'Dea, Morgan back line. O'Dea wasn't playing in that infamous France v Republic or Ireland game, but you'd think he'd still bear some ill will to Henry, so that's a minor backstory to keep an eye on.
In midfield, I'd expect Aaron Maund to be back out there alongside Goal Machine Terry Dunfield, which I'm sure has Tim Cahill and co drooling uncontrollably right now. After that, there's a few options, but with Eric Hassli confirmed as not available (apparently it's quite possible he'll be done for the season) it's more than likely we'll see a similar lineup to what saw off CD Aguila. Quincy Amarikwa, hopefully desperate to show the Red Bulls what they missed out on, alongside Ryan Johnson up front, with Reggie Thompson Lambee and Luis Silva in the wide midfield spots. Compare it all to the quality the Red Bulls have and it's quite the demonstration of TFC's injury woes, as well as a condemnation of the lack of depth and depressing illustration of just how much work needs to be done this off season.
The other storyline I've been following for the last few games is of course the onward pratfall to history. Last week saw them break the club record for lowest points total and most goals conceded in 30 games, now it's about comparing to last season's 34 game records.
Aron Winter's team ended with a record of 6-15-13 for 33 points, with 36 goals scored and 59 conceded. Currently the 2012's team record is of course 5-7-18 for 22 points, with 34 goals scored and 55 conceded. So, anything less than a win will confirm they won't catch that points total. How many goals do we need to overtake that goals conceded record? That's right. 5.
I wouldn't bet against Henry, Cooper, Le Toux, Cahill, Lindpere etc etc getting that and if they do, that would guarantee that next week when the club returns to BMO that we'll all hear the people sing, singing a song of angry men. It's a song that ends on a hopeful note, about a life about to start when tomorrow comes. How many acts are we going to have to sit through before TFC finally get their tomorrow?