Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Red Bulls Preview: Game 10 @ Hosers

New York (5-2-2) makes its first trip North of the border tonight (7pm ET, MSG) to take on the new and newly resurgent Toronto FC (3-5-1). BMO Field has proven to provide the Canadian Club with a huge boost, as TFC has won three of its last four matches there. The Red Bulls are smarting from their lashing from the Grown-Ass Man on Saturday in KC, and are thin at the back line. New York should take solace, however, that the Wizards, who now are without Eddie Johnson for the next four-six weeks, needed Saturday's match a lot more than the Red Bulls. Throw in Cleetus' second straight red of the season, and New York was lucky to keep the match to a one-goal loss.

Recent Form:
Toronto: WWLDW
New York: DLWWL

Here's a line-by-line look at what to expect:

The Toronto forwards vs. the Red Bulls' defense:
Danny Dichio and Jeff Cunningham vs. Seth Stammler, Jeff Parke, Carlos Mendes, and Tim Regan (and Jon Conway). Dan D. Dick has been an unparalleled success story for TFC. The Englishman not only scored the club's first-ever goal, but has tallies in each of his last two outings. How he'll mesh with MLS clubhouse pariah and prolific scorer Jeff Cunningham (93 goals in 248 MLS matches) remains to be seen. New York's "tough against everyone but RSL and Eddie Johnson" defense will be without starters Todd Dunivant, Hunter Freeman, and Ron Wattereus. A very beatable Tim Regan and super sub Seth Stammler will take the wings. Advantage: Toronto

New York's attackers vs. the TFC defense:
Juan Pablo Angel and John Wolyniec vs. Marvell Wynne, Andrew Boyens, Jim Brennan, and Chris Pozniak (and Srdjan Djekanovic). Since TFC learned how to win, the team's defense has given up 1.2 goals/match, which is not too shabby. TFC hasn't allowed more than two goals its last five outings, pitching one shutout in that span. The club will be without starting keeper Greg Sutton, though, who's with the Canadian National Team at the Gold Cup. New York's JPA continues to amaze, notching an incredible goal in KC off of terrific service from Wolyniec. Angel has noted that artificial turf bugs him, so he may be a bit unhappy at BMO. Jozy's a great option off the bench. Slight Advantage: New York

The Midfields:
Ronnie O'Brien, Maurice Edu, Carl Robinson, and Andy Welsh vs. Dema Kovalenko, Claudio Reyna, Dave van den Bergh and Dane Richards. In nine matches, TFC has only two goals from its midfield. O'Brien, when healthy, is a game-changer, and #1 draft pick Edu is having a strong rookie season. Without Mathis, who's sitting out his red card suspension, Kovalenko should fill in admirably has the offensive engine. Dane Richards should expect a battle with Marvell Wynne. Hopefully the turf won't push Reyna back to the trainers' table. Advantage: Push

The Coaches:
You know that "trader" Mo Johnston has been waiting for this one since he was named TFC coach. The Scotsman has been pushing all the right buttons since the club started its dreadful, goalless four-game introduction to MLS. Bruce Arena is so desperate for defensive help that he's spoken with gimpy, old Tony Sanneh about joining the squad. Eesh! Advantage: Toronto

The ascendancy of TFC has been the non-Beckham story of the MLS season. Great, large, passionate crowds greet TFC each time they take the field. After tonight Toronto has a single home game before July 29th, so the club knows it needs to take advantage of home cooking (flapjacks with lots of maple syrup). New York is a bit of a MASH unit right now, will be missing Mathis, and has a big rivalry match at DC on Sunday. Not a pretty picture. Weather will be perfect. Advantage: Toronto

Prediction: I'd like to think that Arena will pull the right levers to get his squad up for tonight, but I'm just not sure. Cunningham, who loves to play New York, hits the net, as does Angel, who keeps up his goal-a-game pace. A 1-1 draw.

Gold Cup Kicks Off
Tonight in Miami, our great bi-annual (depending on the year) continental championship gets underway, with the Yanks and El Tri the prohibitive favorites to meet in the final in Chicago on June 24th. The defending champion US takes the field tomorrow in LA against Guatemala (9pm ET, FSC) , and also plays Trinidad and El Salvador in the opening round. Here are my fearless predictions for how it'll play out:

Costa Rica over Guatemala
USA over Honduras
Mexico over El Salvador
Panama over Canada

USA over Costa Rica
Mexico over Panama

Final: Dos a Cero, baby, to the USA!

Enjoy the football feast this week!

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