Goal guaranteed

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Toronto FC striker Jeff Cunningham stepped up yesterday and guaranteed the team's rabid fans that he, or one of his teammates, will score a goal today against Real Salt Lake at BMO Field.

It will be a tall order considering the team is currently sitting on 732 minutes of futility around the opposition net, a record in Major League Soccer that grows every time TFC steps on to the pitch.

But if there is a player who can back up such a boast it would be Cunningham.

DANGEROUS

Coming off eight weeks of inactivity since aggravating a sports hernia in a friendly against Aston Villa July 25th, Cunningham, with 96 career MLS markers, is by far the most dangerous scorer on the club.

And while TFC manager Mo Johnston is leaning towards letting him back in the lineup it's unlikely he'll start the 31-year-old native of Crystal River, Fla.

"He went 90 minutes (in practice) Thursday and he felt pretty good," Johnston said. "But we will have to wait and see how he feels (today). He'll most likely come off the bench."

Cunningham, however, said he was ready to go.

"I am pushing the coaching staff to let me play," he said yesterday after practice. "But (Mo) will make the decision that is best for the team."

Obviously, Cunningham thinks having him play is the best thing to get the team out of its goalless spiral.

"I am guaranteeing that we will score (today)," Cunningham said. "Even if I have to bribe the referee.... I'm only joking, Mr. Commissioner."

His sense of humour aside, Cunningham said that he has struggled with not being able to be with his teammates through the eight-game winless streak.

It also would be nice, he said, to make his comeback against his former team.

"I just want to be part of the team again," he said. "It will make everything I've been through worthwhile and if we win it will be all the better especially against Salt Lake."

Cunningham said he had been feeling down about the prospect of spending the rest of the season just watching TFC after his surgery in Germany Sept. 5.

SURPRISED

"I am actually surprised at how good I feel now," he said. "Last week I was on vacation; I thought my season was over. But the medical staff have said that eight or nine days after the surgery (to repair the sports hernia) I should be good to play.

"It just so happens that it will be 10 days (today) from the time I had it done."

TFC also will have midfielder Carl Robinson back in the lineup after he suited up for Wales in a Euro 2008 qualifier last week.

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WE'VE GOT PLENTY OF NOTHING

Toronto FC has played 732 minutes -- or the equivalent of 8.1 games -- without scoring a goal, an MLS record. Here's how the club's futility streak compares with other Toronto team records.

The 1965 Argonauts failed to score a point in two consecutive games

The 1981 Blue Jays went 32 innings, or 3.5 games, without scoring a run.

The 1930 Maple Leafs went 331 minutes, or 5.5 games, with scoring a goal.

- Incidentally, the longest goalless streak in British soccer history is held by 1992-93 Hartlepool, which took 1,227 minutes to snap out of it -- the equivalent of 13.6 games.


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