Halfway through the CCL, and after one and a half defeats to FC Dallas, and a 4-0 thumping away to Pumas UNAM, Toronto FC are in third place with only 3 points, and a bit of a mountain to climb, needing probably at least 6 if not 7 points from their next three games to stand a chance of grabbing one of the top two spots. To stand any chance of that, three points in Tuesday night's game against Panamanian side Tauro FC are essential. After TFC handily beat them in the away game, I was prepared to look at this as a bit of a laugher, a routine three points and a chance to bulk up the goal difference in case we need a tiebreaker. Since then though, they've taken points from their games against Dallas and Pumas, proving themselves to be a legitimate threat and giving hope to TFC fans that the group is very much still open. So a must win game, and one that really won't be easy, sounds to me like, yep, The. Most. Important. Game. Of. The. Season!
We don't have a well rested team ready to go after putting their feet up over the weekend, as Aron Winter keeps going with his policy of all A team all the time. As much as I'd like to see some rotation happen, I can understand why he doesn't, it's not just about trying to put on the best possible show in the last home game before season ticket renewals start, but in trying to evaluate the squad, it's a lot easier to do that when looking at your strongest lineup. So I'll stop grumbling about him always doing that no matter how meaningless the MLS game. Hopefully it won't have too much of an effect on Tuesday though, Terry Dunfield for one looked like he was limping a bit at the end of the Rapids game.
I think it will definitely be a first choice squad out there given the importance of the points at stake. What is the first team these days? Well, I think it will still be Milos Kocic in goal, and Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan seem well established in the full back spots. At Centre Back, new signing Kyle Davies was originally listed with LA Galaxy for this tournament so like Eric Avila won't be able to play, so I think that for better or worse that leaves us back with Andy Iro and Ty Harden. To be fair to them, they both had decent games on Saturday, though that was with Torsten Frings as backup, which hopefully won't be the case this time around.
I'd like to see Frings back in midfield, as I can't see Tauro providing enough of a consistent, game long attacking threat to warrant him playing in defence, and weakening the composure and vision he brings to the midfield and attack. Julian de Guzman will definitely be one of the players ahead of him, but with Eric Avila out, the other place is up for grabs. I'd suggest Ryan Johnson, but I think he'll be at Left Wing instead of the injured Joao Plata, so instead I think it'll be Dunfield, or maybe Matt Stinson may be given a start as a reward for his increasingly good recent play.
Up front, it'll be MLS player of the week Danny Koevermans, with Johnson on the left, and I think Nick Soolsma will be given another start at Right Wing. He had a horrible first half against Colorado, but was better in the second and put in a great cross for Koevermans' second goal.
Hopefully TFC really goes for the jugular, mainly to score first and calm any nerves while also making sure Tauro have to come out and play to get back into the game. A big win would be delightful to watch, but also good for the goal difference that took a hammering in Mexico. The first tiebreaker is the teams head to head record, and only if that's equal (for example if we beat Pumas at home 4-0, or more likely Dallas 1-0 away) would overall goal difference come into play, so it's more than likely not going to be that important. Really though it's just about the 3 points, get that, and then next week can be The. Most. Important. Game. Of. The. Season! as well, fail to get the three and it's pretty much game over for 2011.