|After being humiliated 5-0 by the Red Bulls, Toronto FC needs a victory against the Dynamo in Houston on Saturday. (AFP/files)
The numbers might tell a different story, but realistically, unless Toronto FC can upset the Houston Dynamo in Texas on Saturday night, the season is toast.
Still winless on the road with five losses and four draws, the Reds sit second-last in 18-team Major League Soccer.
Though the playoff field has been expanded to 10 teams this year and Toronto is only four points out of a playoff spot, every team hanging in range of the last two slots has played at least two — and as many as four — fewer games than the Reds.
In other words, having given away a host of points in a variety of comical ways so far, now would be an ideal time to pick up a rare three points against a middling opponent.
It’s not an impossible task — the team handled Houston 2-1 back on May 7th, Houston has not won in three games and imposing target man Cam Weaver is expected to be unavailable.
Though Seattle Sounders blog Sounderatheart.com recently gave the Reds just a 16.2% chance of qualifying for the post-season (based on the expectation 43-44 points would be needed to get in), Houston was given just a 22.7% shot.
That said, TFC has one league victory since beating Houston and anybody who sat through Wednesday’s humiliating 5-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls must feel that a result against even mediocre Houston, while not impossible, has to be considered improbable.
Thanks to a lack of depth and injuries, the back line is a disaster. Ty Harden and Dan Gargan have not shown the required skill or smarts to earn starting roles and Richard Eckersley, while game, is not suited to the centre back role due to his roving nature.
While Gargan blamed “simple mistakes” for all of New York’s goals, it is more than that. Yes, there were some mental mistakes made by Toronto defenders, but physical limitations were just as influential in the outcome.
Simply put, TFC can’t match top MLS squads talent-wise at the moment. Particularly at the back.
With Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora and Dicoy Williams unavailable because of injuries, Aron Winter has turned to veterans. It is time to go with youngsters like Doneil Henry and Ashtone Morgan until the transfer market opens up next week and maybe even after that. Yes, they will make rookie mistakes, but they can’t possibly be much worse. New York’s imposing forwards and midfielders were allowed to wreak havoc, basically unmarked for the bulk of Wednesday’s debacle.
Sure, Toronto traded chances with the Red Bulls early and could have opened the scoring, but why was TFC going mano a mano with the most high-powered offence in MLS in the first place?
Isn’t that the type of team you try to grind it out with and limit opposing chances?
While Houston doesn’t have the talent to light up the scoreboard like New York, the Dynamo is a solid defensive outfit.
Keeper Tally Hall is coming off of a shutout and has made MLS team of the week three times, more than any other keeper this season.
With midfielder Julian de Guzman ruled out again because of injury, Brad Davis, one of the best creators in MLS history and leading the loop in assists again could have his way in the middle of the park.
Even minus Weaver, Houston still has a big man in Will Bruin that Davis can pick out.
This will be the final game before new designated players Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans are eligible to suit up for the Reds.
Their debut can’t come quickly enough.