TFC loses two to international play

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, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

Two bubbles burst for Toronto FC this week, one at BMO Field with the protective winter roof deflated, the other in John Carver's lineup with two key deletions for Saturday's game in Columbus.

The team's chances of duplicating last Saturday's emotional season-opening road win in Kansas City took a hit with two-goal hero Amado Guevara and the savvy Carl Robinson leaving for respective World Cup games with Honduras and Wales. The loss of the midfielders is the kind of major inconvenience that contributed to TFC's troubles in gaining early-season traction in its first two MLS seasons.

But coach Carver is not as worried this year, with the MLS becoming more sympathetic to all its clubs' international plight with regard to the schedule. Carver also has last weekend's 3-2 victory to build on and the chance to audition some other players who already have made it hard for him to pick a starting 11.

"It's only two players at the moment, which is a big change from last year," Carver said yesterday at BMO. "The good thing is the league has shown common sense and we're very grateful. They've given us an option of when we want to play (around certain World Cup qualifiers) or given us a weekend off from playing.

"We chose to play this weekend, because further down the line, there will be more of our internationals away. And we've also started (the MLS season) a week earlier. So they're coming around to my way of thinking. But we appreciate their support."

Pablo Vitti, who sat out last Saturday in favour of defensive specialist rookie Sam Cronin, likely will play beside Cronin against the Crew, the defending league champions.

"We have to get on with it," Carver said of the smudged lineup. "I'm not going to cry. Columbus will have a couple of guys missing as well, so it should be evenly matched."

The Crew has three absentees, Frankie Hejduk (USA), Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela) and Duncan Oughton (New Zealand), but league MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto will be giving Toronto fits.

"We have to be mindful of him," TFC's Canadian sparkplug Dwayne De Rosario warned. "I think our defenders can handle him, but it's a real step up from Kansas City.

"It would have been nice to see a player of (Guevara's) calibre keep that momentum going on our team. But he has a bigger deal coming up to represent his country. It's sad to see him go, but that just makes guys want to step up a little bit more to fill the positions and prove themselves.

"The strength of this team right now is that we have some young guys mixed with some veterans. They're learning very fast."

Carver had a tough call in going with rookie Stefan Frei in goal, but lingering problems from a dislocated finger by veteran Greg Sutton sealed the decision.

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"I don't think anyone would have been able to stop the two goals (K.C.) did score," De Rosario said of Frei. "There were some low ones, but he didn't give up any rebounds. It was a lot to ask to start the season.

"Sam did a great job out wide. He hasn't played that position all pre-season, but did fantastic."

Cronin, who was playing for Wake Forest University only a few months ago, rewarded Carver's faith, while taking his cues from Robinson.

"Carl took me under his wing," Cronin said. "He told me not to try too many things early to take myself out of the game and the game would come to me. As the season goes on, I can have more of an impact in each match."


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