July 27, 2012
TFC, Houston blazing upward trends
By KURTIS LARSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Had supporters in a pair of cities whose teams limped through the early portion of the season been informed Toronto and Houston would meet as the two hottest clubs in MLS this summer, the laughter — not to mention skepticism — would have been overwhelming.
The Reds enter this afternoon’s match fresh of their first sniff of seven day’s rest since the middle of June.
Under Paul Mariner’s guidance, TFC’s turnaround has been marked. On the way to just about climbing back into playoff contention, Toronto has lost one of its last nine, winning its last three.
“A couple of teams in form,” Mariner said in describing today’s match.
“I know (Houston Dynamo head coach) Dominic Kinnear so well. He always gets his teams incredibly well-prepared.”
On a fantastic run of form since opening BBVA Compass Stadium in May, while spreading the scoring around this summer, the Dynamo has lost just one of their last eight, quietly pushing up to third in the Eastern Conference standings.
“(Will) Bruin is scoring goals ... and (Calen) Carr is playing very, very well out wide,” Mariner said of Houston, a club that appears to be clicking at the right time. “My biggest worry, to be perfectly frank, is Brad Davis.”
Davis punished the Reds with his pinpoint service the last time the clubs met in a 3-3 shootout in Texas, grabbing a pair of assists that helped the Dynamo come from behind in both halves.
With Danny Koevermans ruled out for the year with an ACL injury, the Dutchman’s replacement, Eric Hassli, was training Friday and could feature today.
“He’s a tremendous presence when you meet him,” Mariner said of Hassli.
“To be honest, when Danny went down it was a really sad moment for us all ... We have a couple of players that can fill the boots.”
Since signing a pair of young strikers to take over following the departure of both Nick Soolsma and Joao Plata, Mariner praised his newest additions, reiterating that he doesn’t expect the club to miss a beat going forward.
“Andrew Wiedeman has done a great job when he has come in,” Mariner said. “Quincy (Amarikwa) did very, very well against Liverpool and then you’ve got Eric and Ryan (Johnson) up front, which can be very, very dangerous.”
The Reds will catch a break with the departure of Houston midfielder Geoff Cameron, who moved to the Premier League’s Stoke City earlier this week. Although the Dynamo have Honduran international Oscar Boniek
Garcia to fill the U.S. internationals shoes in midfield, Cameron’s departure could open up more room for Torsten Frings and Luis Silva through the middle of the park.
In search of a club record fourth straight league win, a result could see the Reds up and out of the league basement for the first time in 2012.
Mariner refused comment on allegations from commissioner Don Garber that Toronto FC, not the league, elected to squash a deal to bring in Swedish international Olof Mellberg to BMO Field as a Designated Player ... Mariner confirmed the club expects to sign reserve goalkeeper Freddy Hall within days ... A number of previously injured players, including Jeremy Hall, Adrian Cann, Dicoy Williams and newly signed Designated Player Eric Hassli, will be available for selection today ... Mariner commented on Miguel Aceval’s release this week saying it was “plain to see” why the club and the Chilean parted ways ... Although it remains undetermined, the club confirmed Luis Silva might still have to travel to Houston for an Aug. 2 court date.