Alright, here it is, the one you've all been waiting for. That's right it's
Chinese heritage day Trillium Cup time again. This is the 2nd game of the best of 3 series with our mutually apathetic, but sadly ever dominant 'rivals' from Columbus. They of course won 1-0 earlier in the season, so lose this and the cup will be gone again. Oh No. Meaningless tin pots aside, it would be nice to actually beat Columbus at home, 6 seasons and however many games and Toronto FC still haven't done that. Also, there's that whole haven't won a league game at BMO Field in over a year, would be good to not have to keep bringing that one up.
Talking of that 'nothing really matters' theme, well that would of course be the 2013 season, instead it's just the next phase of preseason 2014, so let's once again desperately search for straws to cling to, signs of hope for the future and all that. Where might they come from?
Well, despite lots of big, though increasingly smaller, talk, it won't be via new signings, not for this game anyway. Mark Bloom didn't even make the bench in the last game, and Alvaro Rey won't be making an impact even if he does play at all. Amusingly when asked at training this morning if he was eligible, Rey himself said no, then Ryan Nelsen came out and said yes he was eligible. Fun, and here's Bill, Ted and Rufus to act that out for you, though for some reasons they're having trouble pronouncing their R's.
Nelsen was also quick to point out that Rey's pretty much in pre-season mode, still playing himself into shape, so probably won't be starting, and even if he does get on the pitch let's not expect him to be fully up to speed right away.
So, new signings won't provide those glimmers of hope, it's still that same old lovable bunch going back out there. They actually weren't terrible against New York last week, at least if you forget about the whole creating chances aspect of the game. Doneil Henry back in the staring lineup and he and Steven Caldwell looked ok. Ashtone Morgan, well that was still a bit precarious, there were a few bobbles and misplays that almost led to New York chances, signs of a lack of confidence perhaps, let's hope he already knew about that whole 'ship him to Philly' plan, or Thursday's news won't have helped with that.
The last game against Columbus, back in May was Caldwell's TFC debut and the wiles of Federico Higuain and speed and finishing of Dominic Oduro made sure it wasn't a pleasant one. Bobby Convey and Jeremy Brockie also made their debuts's in that one, hopefully increased familiarity will make things easier this time around. As well as Higuain, there's Jairo Arrieto to worry about as well, so hopefully Matias Laba can be on top form. Alongside him, I'd expect to see Jeremy Hall, as opposed to the loose cannony goodness of Darel Russell.
Looking at the attackers, as I said I doubt we'll see Alvaro Rey this game, so look for Jonathan Osorio and Bobby Convey to continue in the wide positions. While Danny Koevermans remains weeks away, the bad news out of training is that Robert Earnshaw is still out with his hamstring injury. That means it'll be another run out for Justin Braun, who to give him his due credit does put in a good effort and a big body to awkwardly crash around up there. Unfortunately the Crew have Chad Marshall, who's quite good at negating that whole big body thing. Better instead to hope for good things from the harassing energy of Jeremy Brockie, hopefully he can force some mistakes out of a Columbus back line that has been prone to them all season, as James pointed out in know your enemy (also they're vulnerable to crosses, which is good as that's pretty much our entire game plan, work it wide, whip a cross in, see what happens.)
It's difficult to guess at exactly what we might get out of this game, well 0 goals and a maximum of one point of course, but I'm talking more about lessons learned, signs of growth spotted. The last game back in May was right at the end of TFC's 2nd preseason of 2013, it saw 3 debutants but then that was it and the brief stability saw improved results. This time we're even further back into what's effectively the 3rd pre season. The old almost competitive team was tinkered with again, the new hopefully better one hasn't been put together yet. Given the changes still to come, what relevance will anything that happens tomorrow have to a month from now, never mind a year or two from now when surely TFC will be reaping the glorious rewards of this time of struggle? Not much really.
So there we are, TFC won't win, it probably won't be all that entertaining, and it's all pretty much pointless anyway. And there's a chance of thundershowers. Feel the excitement.