Toronto FC head coach Aron Winter took a risk on Saturday night by playing a top lineup in Carson, Calif.
It didnít pay off. The Reds were pounded 3-0 by Chivas USA, all but ending the teamís microscopic chances of qualifying for Major League Soccerís playoffs and preventing just the second three-game winning streak in team history.
Instead of resting forwards Danny Koevermans and Ryan Johnson, midfielder Julian de Guzman and overworked defenders Richard Eckersley and Ty Harden ahead of Tuesdayís crucial home CONCACAF Champions League match against group-leading Pumas, Winter went with his strongest lineup.
It didnít work. Juan Pablo Angel, the biggest thorn in TFCís side over the years, scored a pair Ė his ninth and 10th all-time against the team and Justin Braun added another.
Eckersley fired a shot off of the crossbar that would have squared the game early in the second half, while Stefan Frei returned to action and was excellent in goal.
Going for broke against the Goats was an odd call and one that might come back to haunt a club that will already be missing influential midfielders Torsten Frings (yellow card accumulation) and Eric Avila (cup-tied to Dallas) on Tuesday.
Koevermans has seen heavy action of late and though he almost equalized before Braun made it 2-0, the big strikerís presence will be needed much more against Pumas.
De Guzman also could have been rested for Terry Dunfield who is also suspended for the next CONCACAF match. Dunfield did sub in for de Guzman in the second half.
TFCís argument in favour of playing its top lineup in front of its home fans in recent matches made sense Ė they paid good money and should be rewarded for doing so Ė but doing the same on the road was puzzling.
Pumas leads Group C with seven points, the same as Dallas and one more than Toronto. Only the top two teams advance so TFC realistically needs at least a draw on Tuesday in order to stay alive at the competition.