This isnít the way TFC coach Chris Cummins envisioned it would turn out.
ďI donít want it to come down to the last game and need somebody to lose or somebody to draw,Ē he said a little over a month ago, when the Reds still had their playoff fates in their hands.
Saturday, they must win their final game of the regular season against arguably the worst team the MLS has ever seen, the 2009 edition of the New York Wretched, er, Red Bulls. If that happens and FC Dallas and Colorado either fail to win in their games later that night, TFC will make the MLS playoffs for the first time in team history.
At least the Reds are still in the race. They have only won two of their last eight, but thanks to the sputtering finishes by D.C. United, Colorado and New England, have remained alive.
FC Dallas is on a four-game winning streak, and visits the Seattle Sounders, who have already clinched a playoff spot. Colorado is at Real Salt Lake, and RSL will be hungry as, if it is to keep its faint playoff hopes alive, it must beat the Rapids.
If both those teams win, Toronto will actually need D.C. United and New England to win their games to create a logjam for the eighth and final playoff spot. Because the Reds own tiebreaks against United and the Revs, it will help their fortunes if those teams tie them in the standings. D.C. plays at Kansas City tonight while New England face Columbus tomorrow.
Columbus has already clinched top spot overall, so look for the Crew to sit a lot of the regular starters against the Revs as it prepares for the playoffs and looks ahead to the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League.
But, before the scenarios come into play, TFC must win. And, even though the club has only two road victories all season, a win is expected in New Jersey tonight. The Red Bulls will play their last game on the football lines at Giants Stadium before moving into the Red Bull Arena in suburban Newark next seasons.
They wonít have fond memories of Giants Stadium; New York needs to score four goals against Toronto to avoid setting a dubious mark of being the lowest-scoring team in MLS history. And, if the Red Bulls lose or draw, they will equal the MLS record for fewest wins in a season with four.
Toronto beat New York in two previous meetings this season, and has won three in a row vs. the Red Bulls dating back to 2008. But everybody beats the Wretched Bulls.
Coach Chris Cummins said that defender Marvell Wynne, with a bad quad, and starting keeper Stefan Frei, with a dislocated finger, are major doubts for the match.
Had Frei been healthy, Cummins would be forced into a major decision, as understudy Brian Edwards has been outstanding in two straight starts in Freiís absence, and was TFCís best player on the pitch in last weekís 1-0 win over RSL.