Well, the transfer window's closed so Toronto FC obviously have some of that DP level, big name talent ready to go right? Tim and Kevin wouldn't mislead us right? What's that? It all fell apart? It's more or less the same old group of players we'll be playing with going forward? Sweet.
I'm being facetious of course, it's very difficult to bring in DP level players who can make an impact, especially when you're trying to bring players in from better leagues, you can't persuade that type of player to just drop down to MLS when they're still good, did any MLS club do that this window? What's that? They did? And despite earlier reports he's fully fit and will probably be playing on Saturday? Fantastic.
Yes, it's the Seattle Dempseys visiting BMO Field tomorrow for a rare summer evening game, Clint added to what was already an offensively stacked Sounders attack, on a team that seems to be finally getting itself together to move into the playoffs, riding a two game win streak and three game unbeaten streak into this one.
But hey, two can play at that game, TFC are of course on a similar streak, win this one and it would tie the longest winning streak in club history. Seriously. Is that a possibility? Sure it is, right now TFC are a half decent team. Would it be too soon to say get used to it? Probably, but just because the team hasn't been significantly improved (yet. Kevin Payne says don't stop believin', there'll still be players coming in the next couple of weeks or so.) doesn't mean it's all doom and gloom.
When I say TFC are a half decent team, the half I'm referring to is of course the defence. With Matias Laba and Steven Caldwell fully settled in, Richard Eckersley back and Doneil Henry looking like he's starting to figure out where the line between aggressive and dumb is, things have been reasonably solid over the last few weeks. Here's a couple of stats to bolster that line of thinking. Since that debacle in Kansas City, we've conceded 1-0-1-0. On the other side of the pitch, how are big bad Seattle doing these days, well they haven't scored a goal in their past 3 away games. It's practically got clean sheet written all over it.
As with most stats and especially those that are that simple, it's easy to poke holes, those 4 games included one against ten hombre Chivas USA and last week's game where luck and effort played much bigger parts than any kind of organisation or skill that you'd be confident they could repeat. Those 3 Seattle away games, the last of those was 4 weeks ago, since then, back on the green green plastic of home they've tied with Colorado, beaten Chivas 2-1 then given Dallas a 3-0 tonking, and oh yeah, they added Clint Dempsey. When they already had Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins, Mauro Rosales, and much much more. There's definitely potential for this to go horribly wrong.
So while it's a bit scary, the glass can definitely be seen as half full defensively speaking, it is as ever up front where there's very little food for positive daydreaming. In that run of 4 games I mentioned, TFC have been shutout twice, their only goals coming from a remarkable rain fuelled comeback against a very poor Columbus Crew team and an equally remarkable Laba goal, not only his first for TFC, but his first ever as a pro, so probably best not to be counting on that happening again any time soon.
This is where, despite my sunny upbeat title to this piece, the lack of transfer window success hurts, rather than being improved to the Max with all sorts of new possibilities, it's the same old options we have, plus Alvaro Rey, of whom after seeing his salary numbers I now have a lot higher expectations. We may also be able to see Robert Earnshaw back in the lineup, the Rome friendly actually proving useful for him in giving him a bit of a warm up after returning to fitness. For everyone else it may not be as useful as with no academy kids played, pretty much everyone got an extra 45 minutes of action in what was already a short Sunday to Saturday week. Except Rey of course, he just got a bruised ankle for his troubles, though reports yesterday suggested he's fit and available for selection. I'd expect him to be out on the right wing again with Jonathan Osorio alongside Matias Laba.
This looks like a very tough test for TFC, more than likely Seattle will be the better team with TFC working hard to shut them down, without really creating all that much themselves. Hopefully they can put in that effort and carry it through the full 90 minutes despite having played twice since the Sounders last game. If they can do that, and get a bit of luck to match, then they might well succeed in shutting down Seattle's high powered attack, or perhaps in getting a goal of their own at the other end of things. After two games in a row where that luck has come through, I'd say we're probably due for a correction, I'll go with a 1-0 Seattle win but with a few straws to cling to for TFC. That might be a promising performance from Rey, or Jonas Elmer if he starts, or another resolute defensive effort to show that the recent improvement isn't a fluke. Given that results stopped really mattering a long time ago, that wouldn't be the worst outcome.