Is there anyone that's not concerned about this match? And by concerned I mean terrified. Yes any game is winnable and in sports (as in life) anything is possible - but it is a difficult proposition to not view this match with apprehension given the Galaxy's current run of form. As in their stunning form, the goals being scored, the rock solid defence and so forth. Nope, nothing to worry about here...
Yes Toronto FC are on a bit of a roll and have some momentum of their own especially after last week's comeback against Portland - but did I mention LA's run of form? Or their stunning home record? Most importantly their 39 goals for and 12 goals against? Yes, they've scored three times more than they've let in; at home. And they've only let in 12. Oh and that 39 goals for? That's three fewer goals than TFC has scored all year - total. If that doesn't worry you then well, please share your relaxation techniques with the rest of the class!
Speaking of relaxed, here's Bruce Arena seeming not too concerned about things regardless of what he's saying - which is all the right things - but is that the face of a man worried about the team he's about to face? Of course when when you've got a team that boasts Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan and Gyasi Zardes, would you be worried?
LA are fearsome because of the quality of their core and yes, their depth. The aforementioned attack (seventeen goals for Keane alone) works very well together and then you have the defensive partnership of Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza locking things down at the back. We've stated so many times that this is one of Toronto's chief issues as a club - the lack of a core to build upon - maybe someday; maybe someday.
Even coach Greg Vanney seems to be acknowledging that this game isn't one that they're expecting to take points away from, stating "in the grand scheme of things this isn't a must win for us" and that they're focused on the final four games against Eastern Conference teams. (at about four minutes in)
He's also sitting Gilberto - holding him out for the upcoming games against the Houston Dynamo and the New York Red Bulls - so the player that has been both scoring and setting up goals is out before the game begins. Even with Jermain Defoe likely getting his first minutes since returning to the team tonight (although doubtful he starts), that doesn't leave a lot of fire power for Toronto to unleash on the Galaxy.
Now is Vanney wrong in that the upcoming games are the really important ones? Not entirely - however with TFC in such a precarious position and reliant upon other teams to help them in the table it's a bit disconcerting to almost throw in the towel before the game even starts.
Although Vanney is also likely considering the loss of some players to the Canadian Men's National Team for their upcoming game against Colombia and doing a bit of squad management. But still - disheartening to think that they have to make these kinds of choices at this time of year. But umm, yay that these games still matter?
Now games like this do give other players opportunities to shine and perhaps this is another chance for Dwayne De Rosario to step in or for Luke Moore to step up without his regular strike partner. Also returning (and likely in the 18) is midfielder Collen Warner to give Vanney some more options in the absence of Jackson (serving the second game of his suspension).
But it will be Michael Bradley (and to a lesser degree Defoe) that this game will hinge upon. His ability to manage the middle defensively and help break up the LA attack will be key. At the same time so will his ability to not commit foolish fouls, as one more yellow card sees him suspended and this is not the time that TFC want to be losing key players.
This will be a tough game for our Reds regardless of who starts and features in this match. Finding a balance between being aggressive on the attack while taking care of business defensively - that means you Dominic Oduro! - has not been a strong suit for Toronto this year. And let's not forget the ex-Red factor with Alan Gordon (who I'd take back in a heartbeat) and Dan Gargan both doing quite well with LA this season - surely one or both will find a way to make us cry.
However, if they can find a way to hold their own and put in a solid performance against the Galaxy while missing Gil and trying to reintegrate Defoe back into the lineup and then head into two more games this week (yes they're playing three games in eight days, fun!) then maybe there's a chance yet. But really, this is likely not going to be pretty - might be better to accept that and be pleasantly surprised with any other outcome. Come On You Reds!