Already? We really have to do this again already? Can't we play, oh I don't know, anyone else this weekend? It feels too soon to be gearing up for another game - has this felt like a really long week to anyone else? However, time waits for no fan and tomorrow afternoon we'll all be at BMO Field to watch our Reds try to keep their head above the big red playoff line - who's excited?
There's not a lot to be said after Wednesday's loss in Chester, PA against the Philadelphia Union. It was a disappointing game to watch for the most part as Toronto FC looked largely disorganised and the youth of the backline was exposed more than once by Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux.
The first half featured a fairly anemic attack by TFC that wouldn't really get going until the second half when Gilberto was subbed on in place of the injured (another effing hamstring!) Jonathan Osorio. His intro to the game (which was delayed as he's nursing a knock), brought more energy and some focus to the attack. Zac MacMath chose to show why he may deserve to regain his starting spot in goal with several good saves to keep Toronto off the scoresheet.
But as mentioned above, the young backline featuring the previously thought gone missing (have you seen this left-back?) Ashtone Morgan, had a rough night of it in all areas. Other than Mark Bloom having one of his poorest outings for TFC, the defensive issues culminated in a goal by Casey from a defensive lapse by Nick Hagglund. It had been coming and Casey will pretty much always take advantage in situations like that. And then there was the unfortunate red card by Morgan - he had little choice in the moment and put Toronto down a man in a game where they just couldn't seem to come together. If not for some stellar saves by Joe Bendik (in one of his better performances), the score would have been much worse.
So what has changed between Wednesday and Saturday's game? Tactically (please read James' stellar breakdown here), there's not a lot of change for the Union. Yes they've got the US Open Cup final coming but they've also got their eyes on a playoff spot and TFC potentially on the ropes; why mess with a good thing?
As for TFC, well that's a little different. All sorts of changes are to be expected due to a wide variety of reasons for players being missing or being included. Morgan is suspended (and now back with the national team), Oso is hurt, Justin Morrow is a maybe - with Greg Vanney making cryptic comments about where he could play (CB?) - and in a surprise move ,Benito Floro released Dwayne De Rosario and Kyle Bekker back to TFC for the weekend.
So while the backline is still in shambles - and honestly, there's no other way to put it - having more choices in the midfield and up top may help to balance things if a quick goal or two can be had. But that back four does have a big question mark hanging over it doesn't it? Is Bradley Orr healthy enough to slot into the centre? Will Ryan Richter see some time after being recalled from Ottawa? The only thing I feel confident in predicting is that Bloom, Doneil Henry, Michael Bradley and Joe Bendik will start the game - the rest is a toss-up.
What can we hope for? A more focused team than we saw on Wednesday. Vanney will have had a couple more days to work with his team - wow, that's still weird to write - and hopefully figure out how to get the best out of Michael Bradley and Collen Warner on the pitch at the same time. We can hope that the team is motivated to play a good game, not just because it means retaining that playoff position, but because the fans are dying to watch them do something, anything to remind them why we were excited about this season. Why we thought we could be great. Why it might still be a bloody big deal. Come On Your Reds.