The games just keep on coming and this Wednesday, Toronto FC have to go to the preposterously named Pizza Hut Park, in Frisco, Texas to play against FC Dallas. TFC have never won there, with only one point to show for their 4 visits, and that draw was probably the most gut wrenching of all the games, an injury time penalty frustrating the hell out of John carver and killing off any lingering playoff hopes for TFC in 2008.
History certainly isn't on TFC's side, but then these games also included Kenny Cooper scoring repeatedly, and we managed to avoid that fate earlier this year, so who knows what might happen? The Reds are coming off probably their best performance of the season, and to increase the 'anything can happen' stakes, there's a very good chance we'll see an unchanged line-up, which would be a first for this year. I'll get into that, as well as a quick look at what we can expect from a post David Ferreira Dallas team after the jump.
Dallas have done OK since losing Ferreira a couple of weeks back against Vancouver, going on to win that game, and then beating LA Galaxy and getting a point in D.C. United. Eric Avila has slotted into Ferreira's Attacking Midfielder spot to enable them to not have to change their usual formation. Another injury that has affected Dallas is that to Left Back Jair Benitez. Midfielder Brek Shea was moved to Left Back in their last game, which weakened them at both ends of the pitch, so hopefully for TFC's sake they do that again. Shea'stheir top scorer aside from Ferreira, as their forwards haven't really got things going yet.
This article from ESPN goes through some alternatives for Dallas including switching to a 4-4-2 with Fabian Castillo and Milton Rodriguezup front. Practice was closed to the media on Tuesday, suggesting a change in formation could be happening.
As for TFC, as I mentioned I think there's a good chance of seeing an unchanged team after the win over Houston, and that's what I'd like to see. It was by no means a perfect performance from the whole team, and especially with the busy schedule continuing for the next few weeks, there's going to need to be some squad rotation, but at least for this game I'd like to see the team that got the result against Houston given a chance.
With the benching of captain Maicon Santos, and the dropping of early season favourite Javier Martina, Winter showed that there's no guarantees of a place in the starting lineup, and he mentioned that Nick Soolsma had impressed him in practice. I'd welcome any sort of actions that reinforce a culture where if you practice hard enough you'll eventually get a chance, and if you play well, you'll keep your spot. While I'd hope that both Santos and Martina will eventually work their way back into the starting lineup, if they have to wait a while and put in the hard work in practice and learn their lessons on the bench, that will be a positive thing for the long term.
With Stefan Freiand the defence, it should be a very straight forward decision to keep the same line-up, Adrian Cann and Dicoy Williams are developing into a steady central pairing and Richard Eckersley and Mikael Yourassowskyboth played well on Saturday. Julian de Guzman also had a very good game in a more defensive role, sitting just in front of the back 4, so I'll be shocked if any of those 6 are changed.
I'd be surprised if any of the more attacking players were changed either, but I could see it happening, with Maicon Santos potentially being brought back as Centre Forward. That would leave Alen Stevanovicto either take a seat on the bench or move back to the wing or a midfield position. While undoubtedly talented, his tendency to hang on to the ball too long and not pass to his teammates is becoming more and more noticeable, so it may be his turn to sit in the naughty spot and learn a lesson if Santos is deemed sufficiently rehabilitated.
I can't see Joao Platabeing switched after his game on Saturday, and though I'd like to see Martina eventually win his place back, Soolsma did enough against Houston to deserve to keep his place for now. So the other alternative for Stevanovic would be to instead take Jacob Peterson's spot, as Peterson has looked less effective recently, and his set piece delivery has also regressed after a very good first few games, so after playing pretty much every game so far, it might be time for a rest for him. For my official line-up prediction though, I'll go with an unchanged lineup, the first time all year.
As for how the game will go, well that's anyone's guess, TFC have been consistently inconsistent so far, which is as good a reason as any to keep the same lineup to try and get some stability and momentum going, and 2 out of the 3 MLS away games so far have been utter fiascos. I don't think we'll be anywhere near as bad as against Vancouver and Seattle, but we won't be good enough to get a result, I'll go with a 2-1 defeat.