Easy early schedule for TFC

GARETH WHEELER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:50 PM ET

The first three games of the 2011 Major League Soccer schedule give reason for optimism for Toronto FC.

It’s always difficult playing at another team’s home opener, and the Vancouver Whitecaps celebrating their inaugural MLS match won’t make things any easier. But Vancouver is still only an expansion side and there are tougher games out there that TFC could have had.

The Reds follow their season opener with a return home against the also-expansion Portland Timbers, followed by a visit from the second worst team from last year, Chivas USA. Even better for TFC, nine of its first 14 games are at home, which means dreary weather for the fans, but home field advantage for the Reds. A good start could go a long way to infusion some much needed confidence in Toronto’s young players.

One warning; the start of the season is jammed with games, which could become an issue after the Nutrilite Canadian championship games are announced in the coming weeks.

The month of June will be massive for Toronto FC, with the Gold Cup taking place for the duration of the month. That means TFC could be without the services of Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora, Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman for some big games. The quartet will conceivably miss games against Kansas City and New England; two teams they’ll be competing against in the Eastern Conference for a playoff spot.

The rest of the month will be no easy task, either, with games against Los Angeles, Seattle and Real Salt Lake.

If TFC has any chance at a playoff spot, points in October are a must. A home date against the New York Red Bulls is no easy visit for the powerhouse visitors down the stretch. And matches against Philadelphia and New England will serve at the final determinants where it stands. A home date that matters in the final game of the year would be special.

Also, David Beckham could well make his long-awaited competitive debut at BMO Field on April 13, at 8 p.m., under the lights.

— Gareth Wheeler

Complete TFC schedule: Page Sxx


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