Aaah, Toronto FC v LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Centre, I remember that. After the spectacle, triumph and eventual heartbreak of the big game at the Skydome, Aron Winter's men marched proudly behind their inspirational leader Torsten Frings into the home of the reigning MLS Cup and Supporters Shield champs and took them down, a Nick Soolsma goal sealing the win and qualification for the semi finals.
Oh, how we revelled. Here was the confirmation that the new mature commitment to a long term plan, and the steady improvement at the end of 2011, were definitely leading to better things. "Hey MLS, time to start taking TFC seriously" I defiantly tweeted. Couldn't have been more wrong with that one.
You all know what happened after, the injuries, the slapstick, the panic and now here we are well into yet another terrible injury affected skid. Fun. Hopefully things will get better soon, if nothing else LA will provide an example of what can happen when you fire a big name Dutch coach and bring in an MLS experienced guy. They didn't make the playoffs that year but went on to the cup final the very next year, and it's all been glory glory from there, though obviously Bruce Arena is in a pretty different league than Paul Mariner, both in regards to success and you know, actual head coach experience, but hey let's look at that as a positive.
LA of course didn't fire Arena when they had a rough start to the season and eventually they righted their ship and are peaking ominously in time for the playoffs, after mysteriously affording the addition of Swedish international Christian Wilhelmsson. There's plenty for them to play for of course, currently locked as they are in a tight 3 way battle for 2nd place in the West with Seattle and Salt Lake. For TFC, It is of course another chance to play for pride and a place in next year's squad, yada yada yada kill me.
Last week I detailed some of the dubious records that TFC seem unable to claw their way away from, and there's 3 of them that will be decided in this game, being the 30th game of the season, and the 10th game in this current winless streak, so here's what needs to be done to avoid further ignominy:
Win, or TFC falls short of Mo Johnston's 2007 25 points in 30 games mark;
Tie, or Paul Mariner's 10 game streak will be tied at 3 points with Aron Winter's streak of futility that got him fired (though we'd need to lose by 6 or more to overtake the goal difference (currently -7 over 9 games as opposed to the -13 in 10 Winter ended up with));
Keep a clean sheet ,or tie the 2011 team's record for most goals conceded in 30 games, 52. Give up more than one goal and they'll own it outright.
Pretty much everything aside from "well, anything can happen" points to a big chance that they'll avoid none of those records, and the team news doesn't really give cause for hope.
Milos Kocic won't be with the team for this game or in El Salvador for the midweek CCL game. Presumably this is so he can stay at home with his new triplets, rather than leave them behind to go on the world's most pointless road trip, a classy decision by whoever okayed that. That of course means that it'll be Freddy Hall back between the sticks, which should be an adventure.
The back line will see Ashtone Morgan back from suspension, and I guess Darren O'Dea getting to take on his Irish teammate Robbie Keane is a mildly interesting subplot.
Up front Eric Hassli is once again injured, annoyingly as he'd scored in 2 straight games, so that should free Ryan Johnson from his wide left responsibilities and let him go up front again. He scored in both legs of the CCL game, though that was early season when he looked genuinely impressive, all quick, athletic and agile, before the rigours of a long, busy season and having to fight futiley against all those mean centre backs caught up with him. He'll more than likely be with Luis Silva, and that means that either Quincy Amarikwa, Andrew Wiedeman or Eric Avi...lol, I can even finish typing that possibility, will get drafted into midfield alongside Reggie Lambe, Terry Dunfield and Aaron Maund. That should have Beckham (he's playing right, nothing's happening in England this week?) and co quivering in their boots for sure.
Playing spoiler is all we've got really, so for that it's always good to have a team to hate, a reason to enjoy the spoiling, and the Galaxy certainly don't disappoint in that respect. The glamorous and permanently petulant and ref baiting trio of David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan are all the reason you could want right there. Add in all their recent success, not to mention the fact that they exiled Chad Barrett to Norway, and what more could you ask for. A little bit of hate, hopefully leading to some half hearted schadenfreude, and maybe some semblance of something positive we can hang on to over the long, can't come soon enough off season.
6 months and 8 days later it's all we've got and barely worth staying up for.