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Pumas UNAM v Toronto FC. Can TFC be the latest MLS team to get a result in Mexico?

This may or may not be what happens if Universidad Nacional puts out the kids again.  And yes, embedding has been disabled from the Dazed and Confused clip I wanted.  

After Saturday's satisfying, impressive, fun but ultimately meaningless win in Columbus, Toronto FC gets back to the important stuff on Wednesday, the CCL, with a daunting trip to Mexico City to play Pumas UNAM.  I'll stop short of making another 'The. Most. Important. Game. Of. The. Season!' declaration, if only because this is a game that TFC would have thought of as the hardest of the 6 they'll play in their group, so probably aren't banking on getting points here.

'Would have' are the key words in that sentence though, as Pumas have surprisingly struggled so far, the Universidad putting out  teams of youngsters (or freshmen if you like for the sake of my very tenuous analogy) that led to a home defeat against FC Dallas, and then a shock draw in Panama against Tauro. This leaves them with just one point, looking vulnerable and very beatable, behind TFC, and with Dallas sitting very prettily at the top, with 6 points and cruising home.  Of course that vulnerable and beatable rests heavily on if they continue putting out the kids to concentrate on the league, which this article suggests they're likely to, it's in Spanish but the coach says he's going to keep going with the same squad as he thinks they're good enough to make it out of the group.  But maybe that's just talk and instead they realise they have to take this group seriously and put out their first team to get some points on the board.  If that's the case TFC could very well be in trouble. 

The idea of TFC competing with a full strength Pumas side seems a bit laughable at first, but even full strength Pumas are struggling in the league right now, and hey, we got 4 points from Cruz Azul last year, including Nick Dasovic's team rediscovering their inner Preki, parking the bus and coming away with an unexpected 0-0 draw.  Will we see another defensive effort like that on Wednesday, or will Aron Winter go with a similar line up and plan that scored 4 against Columbus?  I'll get into all that after the jump.

Stefan Frei's injury certainly looked serious, so even though reports suggest it's not that bad, I'd expect to see a change, with Milos Kocic back in the starting lineup. I'm intrigued to see who'll be the backup goalie if Frei can't even make the bench.  

There'll definitely be one change in the back 4 as Richard Eckersley's red card in the game against Dallas means he'll be suspended.  There aren't many back up Right Back options out there, I can't see Demetrious Omphroy suddenly being promoted to first team duty, that would be a ridiculously tough baptism of fire.  I vaguely remember talk of Eddy Viator being able to play Right Back so maybe he'll be played there, but i think more likely is Ty Harden switching over there from his usual Centre Back spot.  That would leave a spot open beside Andy Iro, and I really hope Winter avoids the temptation to fill that with Torsten Frings, as the midfield of Frings behind De Guzman and Avila is starting to look very promising.  Viator is again an option there, as is Dasan Robinson if he's actually fit, who knows really, but I think Doneil Henry would be the best option, as he has actually had some playing time recently with Iro.  I'd go with Ashtone Morgan at Left back, he's looked alright recently.

I'll go with that promising Frings, De Guzman, Avila midfield I was talking about, and upfront, well I guess that depends on if Danny Koevermans is ready to start or not.  If not, I'd go with the exact same three as against Columbus.  If Koevermans can go, I'd move Johnson to Left Wing in place of Joao Plata, but I think Koevermans will probably start on the bench.

football formations

As for a prediction, if Pumas play their strongest squad they'll probably have too much for us with their homefield advantage, but hopefully their coach is a man of his word and it is the kids out there.  If that's the case, I think there's a good chance TFC can get a result, though with an already poor defence weakened further by Eckersley's absence, I can't see them getting a clean sheet.  I'll go with an entertaining if frustrating 2-2 tie.

Edit, it was pointed out within a minute of me posting this, that Avila's not eligible to play, which I'd completely forgotten.  So if he's fit, sub Dunfield in.  Though this may be a very good solution to the ' how to fit koevermans into the front 3 lineup' question, let him play Centre Forward, with Johnson at Attacking Midfield.