Sounders FC v Toronto
August 29 Kick off 1pm
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez.
SAR (bench): Paul Scott; JAR (opposite): Eric Boria;
4th: Ramon Hernandez
Fixture is Key to Play off Hopes
There is considerable web hoopla about the virtues of both sets of fans, with a great deal of pride at stake off the field, but don’t lose site of the incredible repercussions of this match on the play-off picture.
Sounders FC have a full squad to pick from for practically the first time this season as suspensions, injuries and the occasional international call up have prompted more personnel changes than a year in the life of an average Belgian Government. They secured a valuable point in their last outing, a 1-1 draw at Conference leaders Houston Dynamo, where Nate Jaqua finally discovered his goal touch.
Since being eliminated from the Champions League by Puerto Rico Islanders, Toronto’s form has consisted of a home 2-0 win and an away 2-0 defeat, with DC United and Chivas providing the opponents respectively. That win was their only one in the last eight fixtures, not counting their Real Madrid friendly, but it should be noted that those eight games only involved five MLS matches. You can probably ignore the 0-0 draw with River Plate too in the Carlsberg Cup. Carl Robinson and Adrian Serioux are suspended for Toronto. In Robinson’s absence, Sam Cronin will step up and take a more authoritative role in the Reds midfield.
Toronto coach Chris Cummins told the Toronto website, “Sam may be a rookie in this league but he has lots of experience to call upon. He was an outstanding college player and on Saturday in Seattle he will probably come back into the middle of the park. I will be asking him to do the job that Carl Robinson normally does, leading by example, breaking play up and shifting the ball quickly. He has done that throughout the season whichever position he has played in, so although we will miss Carl, I am confident that Sam will easily be able to fill that role.”
Adrian Serioux will be a huge loss for Toronto as he has played every one of their 22 games so far this season. With 1926, he is their top minuter and after him comes also absent Carl Robinson (equal with De Rosario).
Carl Robinson’s absence could also provide Gambian Amadou Sanyang with an opportunity to come back into the starting line-up and make his fourth appearance of the season. The 18 year-old made his MLS debut earlier this month in the 1-1 tie at New England Revolution and followed that with his first start in the home win over D.C. United on August 15.
These absences could mean a slightly unsettled side and could provide a weak link for Sounders to exploit, as they find themselves in the unusual position of being less affected by absences than their opponents. Sigi Schmid will have Fredy Montero back amid speculation about how he will juggle players who may have impressed him last week with the availability of the Colombian. Roger Levesque looks most likely to make way for Montero.
Updated USA Wide League Table
|1||Houston Dynamo (W1)||24||11||7||6||40||10|
|2||Columbus Crew (E1)||22||10||9||3||39||10|
|3||Chicago Fire (E2)||23||10||8||5||38||6|
|4||LA Galaxy (W2)||23||8||11||4||35||4|
|8||Real Salt Lake||23||8||6||9||30||7|
|10||New England Revs||20||8||6||6||30||-1|
|13||Kansas City Wizards||20||5||6||9||21||-8|
|14||San Jose Earthquakes||21||5||5||11||20||-12|
|15||Red Bull New York||23||3||4||16||13||-22|
Dwayne de Rosario – International Class and Dangerous
Canadian international Dwayne De Rosario is probably the best known name on the side. Previously at Houston, he wanted to return to his native Ontario, and Toronto FC were only too happy to accommodate his wish. Houston, to be fair to them, didn’t stand in his way just as they didn’t with Sounders FC’s Nate Jaqua who really wanted to play in his native Pacific Northwest. This twin loss has perhaps left the Dynamo short of attacking firepower and Brian Ching fighting a lone battle, but that’s to the benefit to both clubs in this tie.
De Rosario has 60 goals and 45 assists in 206 MLS games. On his bio on the TFC website, it says, “Dwayne De Rosario’s signing just before the holiday season in 2008 was a welcome gift to TFC supporters. The Canadian International begins his 9th MLS season in Toronto, and the attacking midfielder will be looking to make an immediate impact with his new club. De Rosario brings a winning attitude to the team, having never missed a trip to the post season no matter which team he has played for.”
Other star players are Swiss goalkeeper Stefan Frei, former QPR, Preston West Bromwich Albion, Sampdoria and Lecce, forward Danny Dichio, and Jim Brennan. Brennan’s transfer fee from Bristol City to Nottingham Forest was the largest transfer fee paid for a Canadian player at $2.5 million. Chad Barrett was awarded the team’s Golden Boot Award in 2008 for the nine goals he scored for the side.
Like Sounders FC, Toronto also have a Gambian, Amadou Sanyang and like Sounders Sanna Nyassi, he played for the Gambian U-20 squad. Dangerous Cameroonian forward Ali Gerba has been added to the Toronto side since the sides last met. He has only started twice and produced 217 MLS minutes but already has a goal to his credit. Although born in Africa, Ali is a Canadian international and made his debut for Canada in Burnaby, BC on July 2, 2005 in a friendly vs. Honduras.
Also new to Toronto since the last meeting is defender Nick Garcia, released by San Jose in the great Bay Area clear out that turned their season. He has started seven matches for his new side completing all 630 minutes.
Prost Amerika will bring you its Award Winning match report and analysis after the game.
Stadium Facts – BMO Field
Toronto FC play at the 20,000 capacity BMO Stadium which opened last year. BMO Field is home of Canada’s National Soccer Team as well as Toronto FC, Canada’s first Major League Soccer team. BMO Field is located at Exhibition Place in Toronto and is Canada’s first soccer-specific stadium.
In the Summer of 2007, BMO Field was the main venue for the 3rd most watched sporting event in the world, the FIFA U-20 World Cup, in which it hosted over 260,000 people and 12 games. In its first year of operation, over 500,000 people entered BMO Field’s gates.
Toronto FC – The Fans
Toronto FC has some of the most highly regarded fan clubs with names like the Red Patch Boys, Tribal Rhythym Nation/Section 118, and U-Sector already being part of the North American supporters lexicon. With the advantage of close proximity to other MLS clubs, Toronto fans have rapidly gained a reputation not only for providing a vibrant and colourful atmosphere at BMO Field but taking it on the road to away games too.
Keith Hodo of the Emerald City Supporters Club paid tribute to the influence Toronto fans have had on building supporter culture in Seattle. “TFC have some great fans which are some of the best in Major League Soccer (MLS). The thing that really sticks out in my mind when I went to see them was how their fans embrace the true international spirit of Toronto. By that I mean that not only do you have your “Kop”-esque stand with Red Patch Boys but you have a continental spirit which proliferates through the North End Elite and a Jamaican presence emanating from Tribal Rhythm Nation.
While we were there we got to meet with one of the Red Patch Boys leadership who gave us the idea of doing the $30 paid membership for shirt, scarf and membership card. Also, seeing how many groups they had helped us to realize that we wanted to become the biggest and baddest group in Seattle and helped us to create the umbrella group concept.”
For another match preview, visit the excellent Sounder at Heart website.