Well, TFC fans, its finally here. The week 11 home opener we've always dreamed of. As Mitchell Tierney reported, TFC are ready to make BMO an intimidating place to play. Add in the fact that (in MLS) the Reds have won two in a row, have looked pretty good doing it, given up no goals in 120 minutes of soccer, and are probably two injuries away from their first-choice starting XI being fully fit - and the game against Houston looks like the next step to big things. Depending on whether or not you believe the hype.
Houston played to a sleepy 1-0 loss against San Jose on Tuesday, and before that leaked 8 goals in two games. Some might say the defense is getting itself sorted out. Others might say that San Jose aren't exactly a tough test for most defenses. Toronto should get a lift from the home crowd and home field (more on that here and here), see more of the ball against a team that's afraid of conceding, and dictate the tempo of the game with that possession.
Match Talking Points
Home field is the obvious one. It's a new BMO with new seats and amenities. The game isn't played in the (supposedly) shorter concourse lineups, though. Its on the pitch.
Will we see TFC play differently at home than on the road? Houston don't look like they'll want to go for the throat - they'll likely bunker against the Reds dynamic offense and wait for a set piece or counter attack. Read the full scouting report in Know Your Enemy 1 and 2.
All eyes have been on Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore, but secondary scoring needs to be found. Jonathan Osorio, Robbie Findley, Jackson, even Michael Bradley and Benoit Cheyrou should find themselves on the scoresheet with more frequency. In the back, Nick Hagglund and Damien Perquis need to adjust to their new partnership, while Justin Morrow adjusts to playing as a Right back.
TFC Starting XI
With Bendik, Caldwell, and Bloom still recovering, TFC will likely field the same XI as against Philadelphia. With Perquis, Giovinco, Findley, Jackson, Morgan, and Altidore all being rested against Montreal, the Reds should be fresh to open up the remodeled BMO Field.
Keys to the Game
To me, the most intriguing prospect of this game is seeing how TFC use possession. The stadium hype might make us forget for a minute that what we actually care about is the team on the field, but that's what we ultimately support. I'm looking forward to seeing the possession-based, attacking soccer that Bezbatchenko and Vanney promised.
Winning set piece battles will be big against Houston. Brad Davis is one of the best dead-ball specialists in MLS, and Will Bruin is rediscovering his scoring touch. Giles Barnes is no slouch in the attack either. TFC need to be wary or the home opener could become a trap game of sorts.
Bold But Useless Prediction: A fan finds a way to get a seat cushion on the field.
The game goes at 5 on Sunday. You can catch it on TSN or ESPN2.