Who would have thought the last time these two teams played that this game would have playoff qualification implications. Toronto FC were well out of the picture even then, and for New York Red Bulls, despite a bit of a blip, surely that 5-0 hammering they gave us would be just the thing to get their season back on track and keep them up there at the top of the Eastern conference.
Of course TFC are still very much out of it, but a shocking run of form and some exciting diva antics from Rafael Marquez have seen team branding exercise plummet to the point where they're barely hanging on to a wild card spot. This gives TFC a chance to get some revenge for not only that game, but also of course that other more infamous 5-0 defeat that killed our playoff hopes in 2009, if we can hurt New York's chances this year then that would be very satisfying indeed.
Marquez will probably be back in the lineup on Saturday, and quite possibly in midfield rather than defence. That of course was where he was playing when he scored a blinder in their 4-1 win at Bmo Field last year (wow, all this vengeance is going to take a long time). Once a Metro takes a look at how that might affect their starting line up, and all I can say is wow, that's an embarrassment of riches they have to choose from in midfield and attack, a) how do they get all those players under the salary cap? and b) how the hell are they doing so badly?
But anyway, enough about New York, what can we expect from Toronto after their heroic midweek efforts against Pumas?
With two weeks off to rest up after this game, I'd expect a first team to be put out there to try and go into the international break on a high, the next thing I'd expect is a continuation of the 5-2-3/3-4-3 defensive formation. Aron Winter admitted at the townhall meeting that his defence isn't really good enough and thus has to be bolstered from time to time depending on the opposition. Given Thierry Henry, Luke Rodgers, Juan Agudelo, Joel Lindpere et al ripped us apart in New York, I can see this being considered one of those situations, despite my overenthusiastic headline, I'd be more than happy with a defensively solid performance and a 1-0 win.
Torsten Frings will be well rested and should be back in the middle of that defence, with Ty Harden and Andy Iro ahead of him, Ashtone Morgan on the left and Matt Stinson replacing the injured Richard Eckersley on the right.
Midfield should be equally straight forward with Eric Avila ahead of Julian de Guzman, but there's definitely a few questions in the forward line. First of all is Danny Koevermans ready to play after being subbed off at half time of the very important Pumas game, his substitution was explained in Aron Winter's press conference merely as him being tired, so with a few days rest he should be ready to go, if so he's an automatic choice at Centre Forward. Joao Plata was described as fit in the townhalls, so I'd put him in to start the game on the Left Wing ahead of Ryan Johnson who looked particularly tired by the end of the Pumas game. On the Right Wing, I'd be tempted to give Peri Marosevic a go as a reward for his goal against Pumas, give him a chance to earn his place in next year's team, which he hasn't convinced me of yet despite his three goals so far.
The Red Bulls need the win, this is probably one of their remaining games that they're looking at as some easy points towards the playoff push, so they should be bringing plenty of attacking intent, which is the main reason I'd hope to see Frings at the back, who really fancies watching Harden try and defend against Thierry Henry without a little bit of help. I'm confident TFC will be able to get a result here, if they can concentrate on defence, and keep the goals down. New York's defence has been a bit of a disaster at times, so even without really focussing on attack, there should be a few chances for Koevermans, Plata, Johnson or whoever to get a goal or two and bring the feel good factor into the break. Come on boys, your sales reps need you.