After successfully pulling off a matador impression against the bulls (both human and inflatable) of Tauro FC on Tuesday, and with a tough matchup against Pumas scheduled for next Tuesday, Saturday will see Toronto FC trying to do bad things to goats, as they head to L.A to face Chivas USA. Exactly who makes the trip out there is the big question ahead of the game, what with this being a less important game that the one on Tuesday, which The Yorkies, TorontoFC.ca and others are all now on board with calling The. Most. Important. Game. Of. The. Season! The Star even raises the bar to 'biggest in franchise history'.
Realistically it's a meaningless game for both sides, though neither side can afford to lose if they hope to make the playoffs, as Chivas are just 2 points ahead of TFC and thus also struggling to get into that 10th place. This is despite the best efforts of Nick 'Seriously I'm an all star! really guys! I am! why does no-one believe me?' LaBrocca, who in all seriousness has had a very good year for the goats. Hoping that TFC can stop yet another ex-player from coming back to haunt us is a good reason to care about the game, and what the hell, we're on a 2 game win streak, why not see how far we can go with that. Really though, that's it, we're not making the playoffs, and we actually do have a chance of doing something good in the CCL, so let's not play the first team.
So far this season, even when it's seemed like the obvious call, Aron Winter has resisted the temptation to just throw the kids out there to save the first XI for a bigger game, but will the addition of a flight to L.A and back to the equation make him change his policy? Probably not entirely, but if there's any of the A team that, due to injury of fatigue, comes over all B.A Baracus and says "I ain't gettin' on no plane!" there's enough of the regular players that can't play on Tuesday that there's no need to drug them or knock them unconscious and force them to go out there.
In goal, well we'll have to go with the Kocic and Frei combo there as I'm fairly certain MLS wouldn't let us use the backup pool of goalies just for the sake of squad rotation, so that's one full strength position. The midfield can easily be very strong as well. Torsten Frings picked up a largely unnoticed yellow card in the 90th minute of the game against Tauro which, combined with one he got against Dallas means he'll have to miss the Pumas game, which will be a huge loss. But that means he should play in this game so that's good, Eric Avila is ineligible, and Terry Dunfield is also suspended, though he may be injured, in which case fellow suspendee Mikael Yourassowsky or forgotten man Nathan Sturgis can step in. So that's a respectable midfield right there without affecting the Pumas game at all.
In defence, Kyle Davies is also ineligible for the CCL, so let's give him his TFC debut, see what he can do, and I'd be in favour of giving Eddy Viator a chance as well, whether at Centre Back or Right Back. Danleigh Borman can step in at Left Back, and as the defence is terrible enough at the best of time, that should probably be the last of the replacements, so let Andy Iro or Richard Eckersley play depending on where Viator lines up.
Up front, Danny Koevermans is regaining full fitness, so let him decide whether rest or more playing time is what will help him, and go with that. Javier Martina would probably be grateful for one last chance to prove that Portland game wasn't the last shining moment of his career. There aren't really that many options at Left Wing, so let's give Ryan Johnson a chance to get his form back after he's struggled recently.
There it is, a lineup that will let a lot of players rest while still putting out a half decent lineup, but that's only what I'd like to see. I'm fairly confident that Winter will put out an almost full strength team, which I think could look something like this, I'd give Peri Marosevic another shot at Right Wing as Nick Soolsma's been unimpressive recently, and surely he'll want to have a good look at Kyle Davies before the season's over, so a couple of tweaks to the team that started against Colorado.
As for a prediction, I'll say Frings will successfully nullify Labrocca, a fading Juan Pablo Angel won't even be good enough to do well against Andy Iro and the full strength team will be good enough to escape Carson with a 1-1 tie.