A quick turnaround following a dismal display in Kansas City sees TFC return to action on Wednesday night, the second of consecutive road matches, away to Chivas USA.
Saturday night was bad and a chance to immediately erase the loss from memory will be well appreciated by both fans and the club alike, but will Wednesday be any better?
Their opponents that night are one of the more unpredictable sides in MLS.
Strugglers for most of the season – after an impressive, if ultimately brief, start – Los Ameri-Goats, under the tutelage of new boss Jose Luis Real, who replaced the charismatic El Chelis, have found some form heading into the match.
With reinforcements arriving, old hands heading out, and a coach with few matches under his belt, projections can be a bit tricky; that said, a closer look at the enemy, Chivas USA, is in order.
Two possible additions should be mentioned before moving on to the likely starting eleven.
US international defender, Carlos Bocanegra, was added to the team – after an allocation ranking trade with Toronto that saw a 2015 first-round pick and an international roster spot head to the Reds – but his international transfer certificate (ITC) has not yet arrived.
There was some sort of delay on the European end (Scotland – Rangers FC), but it has been suggested that it should be sorted out for this match and he has been training with the team, building up match fitness and getting to know his teammates.
The club also added a 20-year old striker from the mother-ship in Guadalajara, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres on loan. His ITC and visa need to arrive before he is available, no word yet on whether they have or not.
Assuming they are available the projected lineup is as follows: Dan Kennedy in goal; from right to left – Mario de Luna, Walter Vilchez, Carlos Bocanegra, and Carlos Borja across the back-line; Edgar Mejia will sit in the midfield hole, behind Eric Avila, Carlos Alvarez, Gabriel Farfan, and Jorge Villafana; with Jose Correa as the lone striker atop the formation.
The suspension to left-back Josue Soto – for a pair of yellow cards in their Friday match in Philadelphia – will come as a blow to the side who have sought out and found a measure of stability under Real.
Soto has featured their in all bar one of their matches under the new boss – Farfan was in place for the other, but he has found a home in the midfield.
If Farfan were moved, Marky Delgado, an academy prospect signed at the start of 2012, could feature in his midfield place, where he has seen some time, though more often at right-back.
Should Osvaldo Minda, who has struggled with injury all season, be fit, he could be preferred to Mejia in that central role, but given the positive signs beginning to flourish, there is no need to make unenforced changes against lowly TFC.
Forward Tristan Bowen has found himself sidelined in recent weeks, having played most of the matches under El Chelis, and will definitely be available from the bench, as has defender Bobby Burling, a sturdy MLS centre-back. He too has featured from the bench recently, entering their match against Montreal to solidify in the face of a surging Impact.
The addition of Erick Torres is another in a series of loans from Guadalajara. The defensive-minded ones – de Luna and Mejia – have worked out well, but the more forward thinking contingent – Julio Morales and Martin Ponce – have yet to find their feet in the league.
Chivas is an exceptionally young side, with eighteen of their 28 current players 25 or younger. They recently added a sixteen-year old academy prospect by the name of Caleb Calvert; fret not, he is currently listed as OUT and will therefore not be available to embarrass TFC.
Chivas head into the match on the heels of a disappointing 3-1 loss to Philadelphia on Friday. The two were tied up to the final ten minutes of the match and appeared destined for a fourth-straight draw – further signal of their solidification of Real.
But misfortune and a cruel refereeing decision turned the match. Soto slipped on the soggy turf and redirected the ball towards his keeper, Kennedy, who grabbed it. The referee deemed it a back-pass and Michael Farfan converted the indirect free-kick, but not before Soto was given his marching orders for bumping the ref in his protestations.
It was a doubly harsh decision.
Casey would add a third in the dying minutes.
Sticking to recent events – over half a season has played out – El Chelis was fired on May 29 after a seventh match without a win, losing six of those seven and four-straight (they were outscored 13-1 during that spell).
Director of Youth Development, Sacha van der Most was named as interim, overseeing a 0-2 loss to Seattle, before Real, took the position for a 3-1 loss at Vancouver on June 16.
Bowen had given the Goats the lead that day, with a blast from distance that eluded Brad Knighton in goal, but two first-half stoppage-time goals – from Jordan Harvey and Camilo, turned the tides. Camilo would add a second the final ten minutes to exaggerate the result.
Chivas would lose their next match as well, at home against cross-hall rivals, Los Angeles. A single goal, scored by Gyasi Zardes would separate the two sides.
They would draw their next three matches, at home to New England (1-1) and away to Dallas (0-0) and Montreal (1-1), falling victim to a scandalous dive from Sanna Nyassi that rescued a point for the Impact, after Avila had put them in front.
Avila, who had been rumour to be departing for Guadalajara, scored on his return to the side after the transfer was quietly denied by MLS, just one of a number of bizarre personnel moves that saw Laurent Courtois open the scoring against New England – Chad Barrett would bundle an equalizer over the line in the 88th minute – only to be released the very next day.
Chivas sits at the bottom of the Western Conference in ninth place, on fourteen points after nineteen matches, ten points adrift of their nearest rivals, San Jose, though with a pair of matches in hand.
The two clubs last met in April of 2012, with Chivas USA winning 0-1 in Toronto, extending TFC’s ongoing losing streak to five matches. Osvaldo Minda scored the lone goal of the match.
Four of TFC’s starting eleven – and a further two from the bench – are still with the club, while Chivas retains a mere two of their starter from that match (three if Jazic counts) and no substitutes at all, though they do have Eric Avila. Both teams have fired two coaches since that day.