They won’t dare say it, so we’ll do it for them.
If Toronto FC can’t get three points and show some signs of life against woeful D.C. United Saturday afternoon at BMO Field, it’s just not going to happen this season.
Sure, road dates against dismal Chivas USA and Houston are coming up in the next few weeks, but bad as those teams are — and they are not very good — D.C., with 16 losses in 23 games, is in a class of its own for ineptness.
As horrendous as TFC’s finishing has been — Toronto’s 22 goals for is the second-fewest in the league — United has managed 15 in 23 matches of its own while surrendering 11 more goals than the Reds.
At -22, D.C.’s goal differential is 10 worse than anybody else. The stats don’t even tell the whole story — D.C. has been listless and lifeless, even following a coaching change.
New United coach Ben Olsen hopes that trend doesn’t continue.
“This is a real character check,” Olsen said on mlsnet.com. “It’s a very easy time to give up, but hopefully that’s not what we’re about and that’s not what we’re made of.”
The Reds are counting on a better effort from D.C., with so many players fighting for jobs and looking to make a mark, but the bottom line is the team is subpar and can be attacked.
In a dogfight to make the playoffs for the first time and in the midst of a five-game winless skid, TFC must pounce on a weak opponent and make a statement that it really wants back into this post-season derby.
With or without strikers Chad Barrett (still out with hamstring issues), Maicon Santos (likely ready) and Mista (leg and fitness woes are leaving his status up in the air), TFC can get to this group.
Dwayne De Rosario can and should run roughshod on D.C. United’s defence. As captain, he must lead by example as he did while on a torrid scoring pace in the opening months of the season.
“The main thing for me is creating chances and having that killer instinct in front of the net,” De Rosario told reporters after training at BMO Friday.
“That’s what we’ve been missing.”
An inaugural playoff berth should not even be all the Reds are fighting for. Pride should be a factor too, since D.C. has had its way with the club from Day One, compiling a 5-2-1 record.
Since Real Salt Lake could only draw with Seattle 0-0 Thursday night, the Reds fell five points back of the Sounders who sit in seventh place. A win would move TFC within two with an equal 24 games played.
San Jose currently holds the eighth and final spot with 32 points, but has two games in hand on Toronto.
TFC head coach Preki would like to see improved offensive play from all over the field, not just those misfiring up front. “We have to find a way to share the load offensively,” Preki said.
Interestingly, Preki also thinks Toronto FC fans can do a better job of backing the team.
“We have to get our fans here early. We see every game they are 20 minutes late and they leave 15 minutes early,” he said. “(I) would love to see those fans here with us for 90 minutes.”
Those same fans would love to see some fireworks from the home side