TFC hungry and healthy

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:49 PM ET

Darkness is closing in around Toronto FC, but the club can let in a fair bit of light by taking care of the San Jose Earthquakes at BMO Field Saturday afternoon.

A 4-3 Kansas City victory Wednesday in Houston dropped TFC to 10th overall in the Major League Soccer table with 31 points. Only eight teams make the post-season and San Jose currently sits in seventh with 36 points.

San Jose is likely uncatchable — the team has two games in hand on the Reds — but TFC can also pull within two of eighth-place Seattle (or avoid falling out of the picture if Seattle tops Chicago Saturday) with a win, setting up a massive match in Seattle next Saturday.

With a loss or even a tie, the math gets much more difficult.

Sure, two of TFC’s final four league games are against lowly D.C. United and Chivas USA, but the other two will be extremely difficult contests in Seattle — where road sides seldom prevail — and at home against East-leading rivals, the Columbus Crew.

This San Jose game is the wild card and it will be massive for a team that talks about how badly it wants to advance for the first time, yet was awful for much of its win in Houston last week.

The club should come in with confidence, having stolen three points in Houston before earning a tough draw in Mexico City against Cruz Azul Tuesday.

Interim head coach Nick Dasovic will have a chance to field the strongest Toronto team in months.

Strikers Chad Barrett, Maicon Santos and Mista continue to get back to top form every day and Barrett and Santos were rested in Mexico with an eye on Saturday’s crucial clash.

Though it is expected midfielders Martin Saric (hamstring) and Joseph Nane (ankle) will be unavailable, the team will welcome back one of its top defenders, Nana Attakora, who has missed recent games in order to attend a funeral in Africa.

Ty Harden, formerly Colorado’s defensive player of the year has performed admirably as central defender in Attakora’s absence this season. Though Dasovic said on the team’s website that “Nana has a fight on his hands to get his job back,” more likely the coach will find a way to play both at the same time, giving Toronto its best lineup at the back end all season since Adrian Cann and Nick Garcia also played well in Mexico on Tuesday.

Conversely, San Jose is without much of its depth, with up to six players unavailable because of injury.

Still, the Earthquakes have had a stunning 10 days off and are one of only three MLS sides without a losing road record — 4-4-3 — and Frank Yallop’s charges will be looking to all but lock up a playoff berth.

Meanwhile, the Reds will be doing their best to avoid all but losing any chance at one.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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