TFC aiming to set mark against K.C.

BILL LANKHOF -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Toronto FC has a chance to go where it never has gone before.

The Major League Soccer club plays host to Kansas City Wizards tomorrow with a chance to stretch a winning streak to three games for the first time in history.

"It's only the team's second season but I think this is the first time we'll have an opportunity to go three on the bounce and that would be nice because there's certainly an air of confidence. Not too much confidence. But our preparation has been very good," Toronto coach John Carver said yesterday.

If they want to set a new standard of, well, mediocrity, they will have to do it against a team that is at a level Toronto someday would like to reach. The Wizards have the best record in the Eastern Conference, they have an offence led by Argentine national team forward Claudio Lopez and a defensive system that's about as easy to shift as the Rock of Gibraltar.

"They're a different side then we played in pre-season. We know the problems they'll cause," Carver said, alluding to a 2-0 FC win. "Certainly defensively they're well organized, but I think I see little gaps there that we might be able to exploit."

Toronto FC has changed a little, too, though. It now has an offence fronted by Laurent Robert, Rohan Ricketts and Amado Guevara instead of Danny Dichio, a wing and a prayer. Then, there is Maurice Edu, who scored both those pre-season goals and yesterday was dubbed an "unsung hero" of Toronto FC's early success by Carver.

"Mo Edu and (Carl Robinson) have the hardest job because they have to work and protect in front but they also have to join in and supply the boys out wide with the ball. They've done that ever so well and have to do it again (against K.C.)," Carver said, "They've been very crucial to what we've been able to do. They've been unsung heroes."

Still Carver, while pleased with the advances his team has made, was being cautious in his approach to the Wizards game. He cautioned against expecting any offensive explosion by his side.

"The fans will have to be patient," he said, "because (the Wizard) are going to be difficult to break down; they are going to get bodies behind the ball. We have to be able to deal with it and cope with it."

Then there is Lopez, 33, veteran of the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and a member of the Olympic silver medallist Argentine team in Atlanta. He has played 58 games, scoring 10 goals, in international competition, and said Carver: "(He) has come in there and in my eyes is a fantastic player. He will give us problems and we have to be aware of that. Great effort. Good awareness. Comes deep, looks to get the ball, looks to get into the box and will be a danger on set plays."

Lopez should more than make up for the departure of 15-goal scorer Eddie Johnson to Fulham of the English Premier League. The Wizards also have as much momentum on their side as Toronto, coming off a 1-0 win in Chicago to kick off a six-game stretch of road games.

Carver said Lopez reminds him of Marcelo Gallardo, which isn't a happy memory. The D.C. United captain shredded Toronto's defence in a 4-1 win earlier this season.

"It didn't work," Carver said about a plan he had drawn up to thwart Gallardo, "so this time we're not doing anything special. Instead, I'm just going to concentrate on our team."

And, his team, after winning two in a row for the first time since last May, never has felt better about itself.

"At this point last year we weren't settled." Edu said. "We weren't on the same page. Everybody coming from different teams, different systems but we've had a year together, and having the same guys around has built camaraderie and with the three news guys we link up better on the field.

"We play a lot of one-twos. I think that just comes from playing with each other."


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