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Toronto FC v Chivas USA: The post-Preki rebuild bowl

Let's hope they've come up with a better plan to beat the Goats than simply staring at them.
Let's hope they've come up with a better plan to beat the Goats than simply staring at them.

Let's hope they came up with  a better plan to beat the Goats than just simply staring at them.

I started and wrote most of this before the De Ro trade happened.  Rather than completely rewrite, I'll leave it as is, with a few bolded after the fact comments.

Chivas at home.  Two years running now it's been a momentous game in hindsight, simultaneously the peak, and the start of the rapid collapse of a TFC managerial run.  Back in 2009, after a shaky start some tactical changes were made and TFC played a great game, but John Carver was in the pressbox, and though we don't know exactly why, we all know how that ended.  In 2010, faced with a post World Cup break slump and a stuttering offence, Preki brought in Maicon Santos and Mista to rejuvenate things, and the first half of the game against Chivas was one of the best 45 minutes TFC have ever played, Santos looked great in partnership with Chad Barrett, we went in at half time 2-0 up.  In the second half though, Santos got injured, Barrett was injured in the very next game, Mista was a big flop, and instead of a beefed up attack, we were left with the craptacular tandem of Obie and Ibbe up front.  6 league games with only one goal later, Preki was toast.

So we should expect something big on Saturday right?  Well, at the risk of making that opening paragraph completely pointless, no.  Well nevermind, there's the big implications for you, before the game even started.  Hopefully it'll be the complete opposite to my peak and rapid descent analogy, years from now we'll look at this as the end and the nadir of the whole Mo Johnston reign of error, and it'll only get better from here.

Hopefully TFC will put on a great show, but more than likely, it could be very entertaining in a sloppy mistake filled way, but either way no-one's going to be putting too much stock in the result.  Obviously TFC are at a very early stage of their rebuild and Chivas are in a very similar situation, except they're in their second post-Preki rebuild.  Things under new Coach Robin Fraser, aren't going well so far, 2 home MLS losses and a US Open Cup loss midweek against Portland.  Presumbaly their supporters are getting the same "be patient, it's all about the long term" messages that TFC supporters get.  What this means is another winnable game for the Reds, a chance to have 6 points in the bag before we even really get things up and running and before we have to face a quality team, thank you schedule makers.  After the jump I'll look into how that might happen.

Despite the clean sheet against Portland, the defensive shambles against Vancouver is still fresh in the mind, so what Aron Winter will do with the defence is still a very big question.  Mikael Yourrasowsky is out, suspended due to his Red Card for being slow, so the Left Back position will see an enforced change.  Dan Gargan has had two pretty rough games, so a change at Right Back could well be in order as well.  Nana Attakora will probably be fit, and Winter has said that if he is fit, he'll play, so that will help and the recent addition of Jamaican international Dicoy Williams means there are a few options open to Winter, though as of yet he hasn't given any indication of what he's planning to do.

Yourassowsky showed the value of an attacking full back against Portland, but given that Chivas has Argentine Marcos Mondaini as a right winger/forward, I'd be looking for a more defensive option on the left, and let Demetrious Omphroy play the attacking role on the right side as a replacement for Gargan.  With Attakora probably coming back to the centre, Ty Harden can be slid over to the left where he had played a couple of times last year and looked ok.

Up front is probably the easiest bit to call and I'd go with the same again.  Alan Gordon was ok as the target man, holding up the ball for the others, and will hopefully be motivated to play well against his old club.  Dwayne De Rosario is a definite starter and looked very dangerous cutting in from the left and Javier Martina's two goal game means he'll go again at Right Wing.  Maicon Santos did well playing behind Gordon in the traditional number ten role and his ability to link with De Ro is one of the most positive things to take from the first two games.  Ha!  So much for easiest to call.  Maybe this will see Martina return to the left and Nick Soolsma back at Right Wing.  What I'm hoping to see however is for Stevanovic to slot into the Left Wing role De Ro played, with Santos still in the Attacking Midfielder role.

Julian De Guzman still isn't good to go yet, and until he is, the other two midfield spots are question marks with a few different imperfect answers.  Nathan Sturgis has had two weak games so far, getting subbed off at half time against Portland, and hasn't looked effective as the link between defence and the midfield.  Will he be given another chance?  Jacob Peterson has probably done enough to keep his spot, and I'd certainly like to see Alen Stevanovic get a start after some time to get used to his new teammates in training, but can either of them play the defensive midfielder role for the full game?  Will Oscar Cordon or one of the other young players be brought in instead?  Well, if Stevanovic is going further forward, then I'll guess at Sturgis and Peterson both retaining their spots.

As for Chivas, as I said they've had a rough start and have had a cross continent trip after a game in Portland midweek.  Their defence hasn't looked good and if Jimmy Conrad is still out with a concussion, that certainly won't help them.  I don't want to jinx anything, but TFC really should be looking at this as three points for the taking. 

There are two wild cards that could affect the outcome, first off Baldemero Toledo as the referee is rarely a good thing, if he holds true to form, you can expect a lot of unnecessary yellow cards and probably at least one red.  The other is obviously the reaction of the players to the De Ro news, and how they play without him.  Throughout all the off season shenanigans, there was never a bad word spoken about De Ro from the players and many spoke of their respect for him.  If that's the case, you'd think there could be morale issues tomorrow, of course it could well be that they weren't going to say anything on the record, whichever is the truth, their performance tomorrow should speak volumes.

Due to his well publicised contract disputes and tendency to shoot himsef in the foot off the pitch, De Ro became a polarising figure even despite putting up career high numbers.  The main argument of the pro De Ro debaters has always been "who's going to score the goals, where would we be without De Ro?"  Starting tomorrow we'll get the chance to find out.