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TFC 2010 | Week#16

On the road again

Philadelphia Union

Off to play the Union

We’re off to play the Union this week in their brand new stadium. It’s too bad Toronto FC can’t play all their games at BMO Field, because they have been unbeatable there this season. That still surprises me, given that this really ought to be called a transition year (let’s call it Preki 1.0). The Reds haven’t been on the road since their swing out west at the end of the Voyageurs Cup run in May. At the end of that trip, games in LA, San Jose and Vancouver had the team looking far more competent away from home. This time around, the team will be making the trip with two new additions to line-up that seem likely to get some time on Philly’s pitch.

Maicon Santos

Maicon Santos is a Brazilian forward released by Preki’s old club Chivas USA, and played the second half in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids. He didn’t make a significant contribution to the result, but he did unleash some snappy shots at (but not on) net and seemed like he might do all right as a target man upfront. With neither O’Brian White, nor Chad Barrett looking like dangerous scoring threats, somebody who likes to pull the trigger (and can hit the net) could be a great addition of depth for a team that’s struggling to score goals now. Barrett, to his credit, did serve up the cross to Fuad Ibrahim that resulted in Saturday’s goal at BMO.

Mista

More interestingly, Miguel Angel Ferrer Martinez “Mista” will likely get some time against Philadelphia. Ever since Danny Dichio retired, Toronto FC have been lacking a target player in the front ranks. Dichio was surprisingly good at that role for the Reds. Without him, the squad has played without that big, sticky guy who can land and keep the ball in our opponents end while the rest of the attack catches up. Mista’s stats since 2006 in Spain’s top division La Liga aren’t inspiring.  If he can find his legs in the MLS, with its faster, more physical and less tactical style, his presence could be a very useful addition to Toronto FC’s attack.

Will they have any impact?

Now the roster is full, any future acquisitions will result in trades or players released. This could be the squad that plays through the remainder of the season in the hunt for Toronto FC’s first trip into the playoffs. Here’s hoping that Mista adds some magic the team was missing going forward. It will be interesting to see if he can collect balls going forward and hold on to them long enough to play back to Dwayne De Rosario and Julian de Guzman. If he or Maicon can function in this role, and allow these playmakers to set up attacks from within our opponents half, the Reds may finally find some rhythm and flare in the final third of the field. It’s been missing all season. With De Rosario’s hot scoring boot cooling off, any surge on the scoring front from these two new players will be keenly celebrated. If they make no impact, expect the Mo Johnston haters out there to start their moaning again.

MVP

I have no hesitation in saying that week in, week out, the guy who seems to be keeping Toronto FC competitive is our goalkeeper Stefan Frei. He had three outstanding saves against Colorado, and might have been the only thing that kept the Reds from conceding an equalizer late in the game. This is a consistent performance for Frei. Much as the defense has improved under Preki, Stefan Frei continues to exemplify his exceptional value in net. Without him, Toronto FC would be dwelling in the league’s basement again.

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