TFC, FC Dallas both hungry

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

Toronto FC's match today against FC Dallas has all the makings of a playoff game in that both teams are fighting for their post-season lives with only three games remaining.

A TFC loss at Dallas won't finish it off but it would require all the elements of the Major League Soccer universe coming together -- losses by all of the teams above them in the standings for the rest of the season -- for the club to move into playoff contention.

Dallas, on the other hand, isn't in such a desperate situation, but still needs at least a tie with Toronto to keep pace with Colorado, which currently holds the final playoff spot.

The Hoops also have two hot strikers -- ex-Reds forward Jeff Cunningham and Kenny Cooper -- who have combined to score eight goals in the past five games.

Cooper -- who is second behind L.A. Galaxy's Landon Donovan in league scoring -- also has the added incentive of being close to establishing a record for the most goals in FCD history.

He has 16 so far this season and needs only three more to match Hoops legend Jason Kries' mark, set in 1999.

But Cooper said the three points the club would earn with a win over TFC is his first priority.

"First of all, the important thing in the next three games is to win and get as many points as we can," Cooper said. "(The) playoffs are the goal right now and if I'm able to score some goals to help the team or get some assists, that would be great.

"I want to make positive contributions to the team no matter what it is. I feel fortunate to have scored 16 goals this year. I've been getting incredible service from my teammates and they've let me take penalty kicks."

It also must be noted that Cunningham has every reason to help his mate today after being unceremoniously dumped by the Reds earlier this season.

The 32-year-old Jamaican was benched by TFC coach John Carver and to add insult to injury, was replaced by 16-year-old rookie Abdus Ibrahim.

Cooper makes no bones about the fact that Cunningham has been the reason for his scoring streak this season.

"Jeff is a great player and I'm sure he can play with anybody," Cooper said. "He has so many qualities. He's extremely fast, quick and has great touch on the ball.

"His statistics speak for themselves. He has scored lots of goals in this league. He has done it everywhere. I feel fortunate to play alongside him and feel more and more comfortable with him."

TFC returns home for its final game of the season at BMO Field next week to face the Chicago Fire.


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