Fewer of Mo's men to go around

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

Perhaps Toronto FC could solve today's ticket crunch by selling seats on its sparsely populated bench.

In the last home game before moving out for six games in a row while the FIFA under-20 tournament comes to BMO Field, coach Mo Johnston fretted yesterday about having enough numbers for this afternoon's Major League Soccer match against FC Dallas.

Midfielders Ronnie O'Brien and Maurice Edu could join Marco Reda and Tyler Hemming on the injured list (O'Brien is questionable with back woes and Edu has a hip flexor problem), while three players are in the United States serving with Canada's Gold Cup team. One more is suspended and two are tryout players and are in contractual limbo.

Johnston might be just trying to keep the Western Conference leaders from Dallas off-guard for the 1 p.m. match, but claimed to be so low on the bench that he mused about sending a plane to Boston for Chris Pozniak and Adam Braz from the Gold Cup, had Canada not beaten Guatemala yesterday to advance to the semi-final.

"We'll obviously give (Edu and O'Brien) a fitness test in the morning and go from there," Johnston said, describing at least one of the injured players as "fairly doubtful" for today.

Edu rated himself 60-40, but figured sitting out yesterday's practice and a full 24 hours of rest and therapy would improve his chances.

With a long hiatus between home games, today is a complete sellout of 20,000 seats. Newly acquired defender Tyrone Marshall will arrive in Toronto as a spectator, as he serves a suspension for a hard tackle that broke the leg of Dallas' Kenny Cooper in the game prior to his trade for Edson Buddle.

Johnston, whose team has come a long way since starting with four losses and no goals, says it's only a matter of time before the offence gets in sync.

The team hasn't played in 10 days, since a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls, with Jeff Cunningham scoring the lone goal for FC.

"Jeff will score for us," Johnston said of the striker's recent arrival.

"You don't get 94 goals in the MLS without being a potent striker. He feeds off others sometimes, but he can create himself."

Striker Danny Dichio says he, Cunningham and Canadian under-20 star Andrea Lombardo know the pressure is on.

So far, it's still very much a honeymoon phase with the ardent fans, who have come up with personalized songs for both he and Lombardo.

Toronto has won three of five home games, while the coming road trip winds through New England, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Houston and Columbus. Only three games will be packaged as one trip.


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