Home MLS Toronto FC TFC upbeat going into weekend clash with the Dynamo

TFC upbeat going into weekend clash with the Dynamo

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After breezing past FC Edmonton on Wednesday in Nutrilite Canadian Championship play, Toronto FC has quickly shifted its focus to Saturday when the club takes on Houston Dynamo.

Last week, TFC was also coming off an impressive NCC win heading into a league game on the weekend. However, the team crashed and burned in a 3-0 trouncing at the feet of the Seattle Sounders at Qwest Field. Perhaps the team was tired or daunted by playing in front of over 30,000 fans. More likely it was the fact that they were played off the pitch by a far superior team.

So TFC finds itself in similar situation this week. But this time the Reds will be at home and will undoubtedly have the support of the 12th man — but will that be enough to spur the team to victory?

According to defender Adrian Cann it comes down to what coaches have been telling them all season long — having a good start and getting back to the basics.

“I think that mentally we are all focused on this Saturday’s game and going in there we have to visualize how we play with one another beside us,” said Cann. “It’s very crucial that we get the three points so that’s our main objective going forward.”

“For us we definitely need to go at them and dictate the tempo of the game. Usually teams come in here and in the first 10-15 minutes we’re kind of lacklustre and I think we need to change that mentality around — the sooner the better.”

Midfielder Tony Tchani agreed with Cann.

“I think we just need to be aggressive,” said Tchani. “Coach (Aron Winter) always talks about those first 15 minutes because we always start very slow and I think if we can handle those first 15 minutes we can do really good things.”

Houston is also coming off a midweek game having lost to defending MLS Cup champions, Colorado Rapids, 2-1 at home. Prior to the loss, the team was unbeaten in six games and was playing very good soccer. The Dynamo made the switch to the Eastern Conference this season and is currently tied for third place with 12 points. Meanwhile, TFC is third last with seven points.

Having both played on Wednesday, some would believe the playing field has been levelled to some degree but there is one big difference separating the two teams – depth. The Dynamo seem to have an abundance of it while TFC barely have any at all.

Houston has a talented squad led by strikers Will Bruin, Cam Weaver as well as midfielder Brad Davis. Bruin, a rookie, is tied for second in MLS with four goals while Weaver has three. Meanwhile Davis, who was just named MLS Player of the Month for April by the North American Soccer Reporters, leads the league with six assists. TFC cannot forget about its nemesis, Brian Ching either. Although he hasn’t played much all season, the Dynamo captain may get the start considering his history of playing well against the Reds.

“As for shutting down, you got Davis who swings the ball in great, pinpoints the pass, he’s spot on. So shutting him out as well as Brian Ching and I think we’re going in the right direction,” said Cann.

Despite the Dynamo having numerous threats on their roster, Tchani believes the team needs to put more focus on its own play.

“We’re just going to try and focus on our game, not focus on one player because there are a lot of big players in this league,” said Tchani. “We just need to focus on our game and try to do things very well.”

Not only does Toronto not have enough depth to split playing time when playing two games in a week, it has a few injury concerns as well. Julian de Guzman and Alan Gordon all suffered knocks on Wednesday night and were taken out of the game. De Guzman will be re-evaluated and could be game-time decision. Gordon is out for sure with a bad groin.

In the meantime, Winter continues to stress patience and is beginning to sound a little like a broken record when he says his team is still rebuilding.

“When you are rebuilding a team you have ups and downs, like at home against D.C. United and last Saturday against Seattle,” said Winter. “I hope those downs do not come anymore but still we are making every game an improvement and it’s most important.”

Winter rightly admits that he is still learning about his roster and is definitely looking to acquire more players.

“I am still on the market to watch players because I have only been here for 90 days,” added Winter. “The time I really started to rebuild was after the first game in the league against Vancouver. Before, you have to test a lot of players. But still with the group I am satisfied, but I am still rebuilding and in the future should come also other players.”

Despite all the changes and uncertainty regarding the squad, one of the positives has been the ability of the younger players to step into the lineup and contribute.

“Yeah, I think it is just continuing to develop,” added Cann. “The younger guys coming in, producing and playing together with one another. I think moving forward that is crucial, especially in these (NCC and MLS) games.”

With the weather warming up in Toronto, the atmosphere should be great at BMO Field on Saturday night. Kickoff between TFC and Dynamo is at 7 p.m.

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