May 8, 2012
TFC has 'surprise' in store for Montreal Impact
By KURTIS LARSON, QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - Stating Toronto FC intends to “surprise” Montreal during tonight’s Canadian Cup semifinal, head coach Aron Winter said the Reds will “go for it” at BMO Field following back-to-back cagey displays that has many petitioning ownership to pull the plug on the club’s Dutch regime.
“No, I’m still confident,” Winter said, when asked if losing tonight’s match to his side’s biggest rival will cost him his job. “I don’t think we’ll lose. Tomorrow we’re going to surprise (Montreal).”
Despite overseeing a pointless streak that has stretched across eight games to start the MLS season, the Reds continue to pick up results in Cup competition. Last week’s goalless draw in Montreal sets up what should be an entertaining second leg with the Impact in search of a draw involving goals to advance to the final.
“When we played in Montreal it was very defensive,” Adrian Cann said after confirming to reporters he was rested against D.C. United to manage his minutes.
“We sat in and didn’t really play attractive football,” Cann continued. “We went there to get a result, get a draw and to keep a clean sheet. Coming here and playing in BMO, it’s going to be a totally different story. We’re going to go at them.”
But with Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans likely out through injury, they’ll have to do it minus a pair of significant pieces that simply can’t be replaced — something that has the players feeling the pressure following the worst start to an MLS season in league history.
“There’s a lot of pressure considering we’re eight games deep and no points,” Cann said. “There’s a lot of weight on all of our shoulders. Knowing that, you’re not really at ease … (Montreal) wants to beat us here at home. Ultimately, we’re going to take it to them.”
Situated next to 19-year-old Doneil Henry for the first time this season, Cann looks set to replace Miguel Aceval in the centre of Toronto’s defence.
Tactically, with the club’s German captain a potential scratch, yesterday’s training indicated Terry Dunfield could resume his role next to fellow Canadian international Julian de Guzman in midfield. As Luis Silva continues to chase the impressive form he started the season with, Eric Avila could shift back to the middle of the park with Joao Plata returning up front.
“We’re fighting for the shirt,” Avila said. “This is who we are and we’ve got to be proud of what we’re fighting for. Going out there and trying to do as much as we can to go get results and please the fans and ourselves, that’s our heads rising high and trying to go onto the next match.”
Following last weekend’s embarrassing showing against Eastern Conference front-runners D.C. United, the club’s management and players held serious talks behind closed doors — a chance to air out the dressing room after controversial comments were issued by multiple players following the team’s latest defeat.
“The last couple of days of practice we sat down and had meetings,” Avila said. “We talked about what we’re trying to do going forward and what we’re trying to build here ... I think everyone feels good.”
As do the Impact.
Since beginning the season with just a single point from its first five games, Montreal has taken seven points from its past three league matches, including a shocking 2-0 win against Sporting Kansas City on the weekend.
When reminded of the visitors’ form ahead of tonight’s’ critical second leg, after declaring a week ago the Reds are superior to the expansion side, Winter said he still believes Toronto will walk away with the needed result.
“I think that’s a good result,” the Dutchman said of the Impact’s surprise win at Livestrong Sporting Park. “I think we have to work hard and go for it.”
If not, the Dutchman himself might be told it’s time to go.
Ryan Johnson vs. Matteo Ferrari
The Algerian-born central defender is the surprise piece across an Impact back line that conceded just once in its past four games — not a good sign for a club that has been shutout four times at BMO Field by MLS opposition. Worse, after getting off to a flying start within the CONCACAF Champions League, TFC’s Jamaican forward hasn’t scored since opening day in Seattle. With Danny Koevermans likely out for tonight’s match, Johnson will once again be the furthest man forward in Toronto’s 4-3-3 attack, a spot that will likely see him do battle with one of the most in-form centre-back tandems in the league. After spouting off against the club and its system following a 2-0 loss to D.C. United on the weekend, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Johnson, who should get a number of chances with TFC’s top brass vowing to push forward against the impact.
BREAK THE TREND — Under Winter, the Reds have conceded two or more times in over half their matches in all competition. Following a goalless draw in the first leg, conceding more than once at home will see TFC in need of at least three goals to advance.
SCORING DROUGHT — The Reds have pitched just one shutout in 13 matches this season. As a result, there’s a good chance Toronto will need at least two goals to advance to the Cup final. After being shutout in consecutive matches, the Reds will need to rediscover the form that saw them push for two goals in Salt Lake City two weeks ago.
After a right shoulder injury forced out of Toronto’s weekend league tie, Torsten Frings wasn’t at the stadium during yesterday’s pre-match training. Although the German was scheduled to be evaluated yesterday afternoon, all things point to Toronto being without its captain tonight … Koevermans didn’t train with the first team yesterday, instead doing individual work along the touch line … Nick Soolsma was in full training and looks ready to return as a potential substitute for tonight’s match .