'Delighted he's not here'

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

Just as the Toronto FC practice wrapped up at BMO Field yesterday, a large helicopter flew overhead, prompting one wag to suggest that soccer's golden boy, David Beckham, was arriving for tomorrow afternoon's game.

But, alas, Beckham will not play for the Los Angeles Galaxy against Toronto FC in the only regular-season match here between the two MLS sides -- marking the second consecutive season the English soccer star has been unable to perform in front of the Toronto faithful.

But forgive Toronto FC coach John Carver for not shedding any tears.

"I'm disappointed for the fans and the ladies in the crowd, but I'm absolutely over the moon that he's not here, because he's still a top player and we saw that in the service he provided for John Terry's goal," Carver said, in reference to Beckham's setup in the U.S.-England friendly on Wednesday night at Wembley Stadium. "So deep inside, I'm delighted he's not here."

Still, TFC will have its hands full against the Galaxy, even without Beckham in the lineup. U.S. international Landon Donovan, the MLS leader in both goals (nine) and assists (six), will be back in the Galaxy lineup after travelling to England but not playing there due to a tight groin. And the Galaxy does lead the Western Conference with a 4-3-2 record, matching TFC's mark.

On top of that, Carver will be without a number of his regular starters for tomorrow's contest, including three absent because of national team duties, goalkeeper Greg Sutton (Canada), and midfielders Carl Robinson (Wales) and Amado Guevara (Honduras).

As well, midfielder Laurent Robert is out because of a red card picked up in Toronto's past MLS game against D.C. United, while forward Danny Dichio (strained groin) and defender Tyrone Marshall (hamstring and infected foot) are game-time decisions.

The good news is, midfielder Maurice Edu will be available after playing for the Americans at Wembley and defender Jim Brennan will not join the Canadian team until next week.

Still, Carver will have to juggle the lineup, for sure starting backup keeper Brian Edwards and defender Todd Dunivant against the Galaxy.

"We've coped with it quite well," Carver said of his team's injuries and busy schedule of late. "It's always a tough time when you play so many games so close together, but we do things right. The guys who played in Montreal (in Tuesday's Nutrilite Canadian Championship game) did a regeneration session (yesterday) and the guys who didn't had a football session ... It's about the maintenance.

"We're maintaining the players at the moment and hopefully we'll have everybody fit that we have available for the weekend."

Dichio, the club's leading scorer with four goals, was forced out of Tuesday's game when he aggravated his hamstring injury and is hopeful for tomorrow's match.

"The only thing that can possibly heal it is rest, and we've had a lot of games recently and hopefully when we get back to these Saturday-Saturday games, where we got five days between games for rest or training," Dichio said. "It might heal up that way."

MCBRIDE IN TFC SIGHTS

Toronto FC manager Mo Johnston confirmed yesterday the club is interested in acquiring seven-time MLS all-star Brian McBride, whose contract with Fulham of the English Premier League just expired.

TFC has first MLS rights on the American star forward.

"On and off the field he would be a tremendous acquisition for any team," Johnston said. "If you look how he has performed in England, he has handled himself very well. He was the main factor in keeping Fulham up this year. Fortunately for us we have the No. 1 slot (to acquire McBride) and we're sitting a little pot of gold there maybe."


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