Upset stomach, upset result?

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:55 AM ET

Toronto FC coach Chris Cummins plans to unveil the club's secret weapon for tonight's Nutrilite Canadian Championship match against the Montreal Impact at BMO Field.

A gigantic bottle of Pepto-Bismol.

Actually, the Reds apparently are recovered from a bout of food poisoning that levelled at least four players prior to the club's game last Saturday against DC United at RFK Stadium, although Cummins admitted yesterday that forward Danny Dichio still was not feeling great, nor was midfielder Carl Robinson, who was forced to miss the enthralling 3-3 draw.

But by and large, said Cummins, Toronto FC will be in good shape for their next game of the Nutrilite championship, a three-team double round-robin tournament, with the winner moving on as Canada's representative at the CONCACAF Champions League. Toronto was favoured to win last season but it was the Impact that prevailed, making it all the way to the CONCACAF quarter-finals.

Both the Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the third team in the Nutrilite championship, play in the United Soccer Leagues First Division, a loop considered a step down from the MLS.

Still, as last year's event demonstrated, anything can happen.

Cummins stressed again yesterday that he will be starting the best team possible against the Impact, just as he did last Wednesday against Vancouver, with the Reds defeating the Whitecaps 1-0.

And that includes goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who has taken over the starting duties this season from Canadian national team 'keeper Greg Sutton. There were suggestions that Cummins might start Sutton in the Nutrilite tournament, but Cummins plans to stick with Frei, 23, who has been a big part of Toronto's 3-2-4 start in the MLS this season.

"I've always said I'm going to play the best team. At the moment, Stef's the No.1 choice," Cummins said. "I don't think Stef had any chance with any of the goals on the weekend (against DC United). He's got an assist to his name as well. You just look at him, he's a confident young lad and I'm not willing to take him out at the moment."

Cummins has challenged Sutton and Brian Edwards to fight to regain the No.1 spot.

"I want competition for places," the coach said. "That's not bad backups to have, Greg Sutton and Brian Edwards. Stef knows he has to keep producing, because there's two lads champing at the bit."

Another reason for Toronto's strong play of late (undefeated in its past five) has been the work of midfielder Amado Guevera, who leads the club with four assists, and Scarborough native Dwayne De Rosario, who is tied with Guevera with three goals, including two against DC United.

"That's the best I've seen him," Cummins said of De Rosario. "I'm aware of DeRo and obviously when he played at Houston he (burned) us a couple of times. But I saw other things in him on the weekend. I saw that he works back, that he's a leader. He's got great quality as well, he goes inside, he goes outside. But what he is, is a team player. It's not all about Dwayne De Rosario. It's a team game, but he gives that little extra."

De Rosario, who joined his hometown club this season, said it just has been a matter of getting to know his teammates and credited Cummins with implementing more of an attack format.

"I think you're starting to see a cohesiveness within the team," De Rosario said. "On the field, we're starting to jell and move the ball around, and understand each other a little more. It's difficult when guys get sick and new guys have come in, but I think we've adapted to every formation that Chris has brought to us."

Cummins said it would be wrong to take the Impact lightly tonight, even though Montreal has struggled out of the gate in the USL, posting a 0-3-1 record to start the year.

"That doesn't count for anything when you go into these games," he said.


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