Reds' goal is clear

Philadelphia Union's Gabriel Farfan celebrates his goal against Toronto FC with Brian Carroll (L),...

Philadelphia Union's Gabriel Farfan celebrates his goal against Toronto FC with Brian Carroll (L), Sheanon Williams (2nd R), and Kyle Nakazawa (R) during the first half of their MLS soccer game last year in Toronto. (REUTERS)

KURTIS LARSON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:48 PM ET

The Philadelphia Union “humiliated” TFC head coach Aron Winter last May.

“It was a strange game,” the Dutchman said of last year’s 6-2 loss at BMO Field — the most goals the Reds have conceded in their existence.

“You get a lot of goals against,” Winter said. “But if you watch the whole game ... it was not the right result. It’s not going to happen again.”

In a way, it already has. After taking a promising 1-1 first-leg result into Torreon, Mexico, the Reds were smashed 6-2 by Santos Laguna to end their improbable Champions League run.

It was the second time in less than a year Toronto has concede six times — something that had TFC’s defenders looking back on last year’s forgettable blowout that saw them jeered at full-time.

“It was a really exciting game for the neutral (fan) I suppose,” Richard Eckersley said. “We got back to 3-2 and then they scored two quick goals ... Hopefully we don’t repeat that.”

After posting a clean sheet to capture Wednesday’s Canadian Cup final, the Reds were full of confidence during Friday’s training despite remaining a loss away from matching the MLS record for most consecutive losses.

Lucky for Toronto, Philadelphia is a fraction of the side that waltzed into the Big Smoke last season and smoked the Reds.

As the Union has scored just eight times in 10 league fixtures — once more than the Reds this season — it’s as close to a relegation fixture fans will see in North America with two desperate clubs looking to climb up from the bottom two spots.

“These are the turnarounds that happen for a lot of clubs,” Julian de Guzman said of Wednesday’s result. “Faith seems to be there, as well as the confidence.”

Following today’s match, TFC players will take a week off during the international break as CONCACAF World Cup qualifying gets set to resume.

The Reds are desperate to avoid becoming the first MLS club in league history to enter June without league points.

“(Philadelphia isn’t) as desperate as us,” Danny Koevermans said. “They already have points. We’re still 15 points out of (the playoffs) ... It’s going to be a tough one.”

On short rest, TFC hopes to carry over its tremendous Cup form to the league for the first time this season. After allowing a single goal through four Canadian Cup matches, a struggling Union attack could be the confidence builder Toronto’s embattled back four needs.

“We were locked in for 90 minutes (Wednesday),” said Jeremy Hall, when asked about the difference between Toronto’s league and Cup play. “We fought, we covered for each other ... and we just had each other’s back for 90 minutes."

REDS BASH CAPS

The Reds were still talking about this week’s dustup between de Guzman and Vancouver’s Jun Marques Davidson, who is alleged to have faked an injury before de Guzman’s sending off Wednesday night.

“I give it to Vancouver for being smart,” de Guzman said. “Davidson comes up from behind and steps on my foot. I gave him a little tap ... and it looked like he had CPR going on.”

Silviu Petrescu’s decision to eject the Canadian international came just before the hour mark after an innocent tap on the cheek saw Davidson drop to the ground.

“It’s so funny,” Hall said of the incident. “I watched it last night and ... Davidson went down soft and the trainer was out there ... It was bad.”

 

Philadelphia at Toronto FC

Today, 4:30 p.m. SN1

Marquee Matchup

Reggie Lambe

vs. Ray Gaddis

Toronto should get a number of chances from its Bermudian winger. While Gaddis, a second-round MLS SuperDraft pick, has put in a number of good performances, the West Virginia product should be no match for an in-form Lambe, who is a threat whenever on the ball around the penalty area. Although he struggled through the first month of the season, it appears Lambe is finally meeting the physical demands of a hard and athletic league.

TFC Keys

Test Harrison: The Union’s journeyman ’keeper has been with a number of clubs up and down the North American soccer pyramid. With first-choice ’keeper Zac MacMath questionable, after looking shaky in Dallas last week, the Reds must test the Union’s unproven keeper whenever possible. There’s a reason he has played for almost a dozen clubs in half as many years.

Contain Freddy: The playmaking midfielder should return to the Union lineup after missing last week’s match through red card suspension. Although Adu, 22, continues to have the up and down performances that have perplexed onlookers for close to a decade, the former U.S. international is capable of changing a game on any given possession.

Training Notes

Winter confirmed Eric Avila will miss today’s match with an ankle contusion ... Chilean centre back Miguel Aceval remains on the sidelines with a nagging hamstring issue ... Toronto’s staff confirmed former Portuguese international Luis Boa Morte will play in today’s reserve match in order to evaluate the one-time Premier League winger.

 


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