Tomorrow afternoon under the less than sunny Florida sky - the Towrads follow TFC everywhere! - Toronto FC continue their, well quest is the wrong word, but their journey towards the new season as they take on the Philadelphia Union. It's been an interesting preseason so far as Coach Ryan Nelsen continues to evaluate the mixed bag of players currently in camp with still little help appearing on the horizon in the form of new players. Yes even I'm starting to get anxious about the lack of any movement on the player front - while I'm firmly in the "please don't buy warm bodies" camp it is starting to make me a wee bit nervous. However, we can discuss that later - on to the preview!
After a horrific first half on Wednesday, the Reds will be hoping that fans are focusing on the last 45 minutes where they settled down, scored a few goals and looked more like an actual MLS side as opposed to the oft disorganized mess that was featured in the first half. I don't know that our Reds have played a worse 45 minutes than that first half on Wednesday in recent memory - of course we could blame it (no not on the rain - listen to Milli Vanilli on your own time!) but on that scary stream with the shaky one cam. Yes we're very lucky to even get to watch these games but I don't know what made me more nauseous; the play or the camera.
The lineup for tomorrow's match will be notable for a few absences and will narrow down the available choices for the coaching staff. Torsten Frings has flown back to Toronto for personal reasons, Matt Stinson is out with a hamstring injury and Coach Nelsen has gone back to England to tie up loose ends before returning to the team for good. With Frings out for the rest of the tournament this puts a different light on the latest trialist (and friend of Jimmy B.) Darel Russell being given a look. Many wondered why another midfielder - instead of the much needed wide players and strikers - was being given a shot. Perhaps this move back to Toronto was known before it was released to the general public?
With both Frings and Stinson out for tomorrow's match it seems likely that Terry Dunfield and Julio Cesar will see time along with Jeremy Hall (I know, I know), Kyle Bekker and Luis Silva all certainly making it out onto the pitch. I'd also bet that Nicolas Cabrera will be given another opportunity to show that he could be the right winger that we need to supplement (perhaps replace) the recent less than stellar play of Reggie Lambe. And of course expect to see (friend of Jimmy B.) Darel Russell out there at some point.
I can offer no other forward options other than Justin Braun - *crickets* - umm, perhaps the best finisher in the modern era will step up? Other than the back five (including Bendik) there is still no solid starting XI for this team - we've been told that tomorrow's match will feature a lineup that is closer to what we can expect on opening day - two weeks people, two weeks - in Vancouver. I know that I'm jumping up and down in excitement; about the fact that it's opening day not at the supposed starting XI. Does anyone else get the feeling that this season is going to be a double edged sword? Solid at the back - yay, less goals against! Anemic at the front - boo, less goals for! Will it be enough if our Reds get the weakest part of their house in order and shore up the foundation before building the additions or will fans choose to rent elsewhere and find another team to follow?
Other than will TFC feature their "best" lineup - does TFC have a best lineup right now? - the story within the story is new CB Danny Califf facing off against the team that he captained upon their entry into MLS. While he did start out with the Galaxy and before coming to TFC stopped off for a cup of coffee with Chivas, he's best known for his time with the Union and his hard playing, no nonsense style at the back. Wednesday's game was the first time we got to see Califf paired up with Darren O'Dea. The duo have the potential to be formidable presence at the back and be the anchor to the defensive line that we've not seen in recent years. This is the kind of game that get players pumped up; when they play against their old teams regardless of the reason for their departure - we can only hope that this is the case tomorrow afternoon at 3pm.
Join us here at Waking The Red for our usual thought provoking - seriously we're deep and cerebral - live thread. So umm, Come On You Reds?