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Week#5

Becksamania at BMO

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Groupies Galore

I’m really hoping the crowd at BMO tonight doesn’t resemble the screaming throngs of teenaged girls that met the Beatles on their first visit to North America. There’s only so much shrill vocalizing I can stand. And a few seats away from me there’s already a guy who can’t stop hurling lame epithets all game long.

Alas, David Beckham’s curtain call has finally come at BMO for a real MLS match. Yay, year 5!

Becks brings all kinds of attention, of course. And most of it has nothing to do with the game or his work on the pitch. That said, he played well in the All Star game here – even if it wasn’t a 100% effort. I’m looking forward to watching him again, because he’s got the goods… as does his LA Galaxy team.

Lessons from the Quakes

Last week again proved our defense is the lagging weak point in the new system. If our back line offers as much time and space to Beckham, Juan Pablo Angel or Juninho this week, we’re in for a thrashing. Even Chad Barrett could pot a hat trick given those opportunities. (It will be good to see the Barrett back here, and he may even get the start). Regardless, the Reds are going to have to tighten it up and hold it together. The only possible weakness in LA’s game so far has been their inability to score in multiples. Let’s hope we don’t gift them the chance to end that drought.

Neither Alen Stevanovic and Julian de Guzman are quite at full fitness, so there may be other midfielders at play tonight. And it’s in the middle of the park that the match will probably bog down. Juninho will likely be the deciding variable in midfield. Unless cold weather is an achilles heel for the Brazilian, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in both directions.

Beckham has played centrally of late, and his experience and distribution will also test TFC tonight. More importantly, the Galaxy are resting an injured Landon Donovan, so their midfield and attack will be running with a plan B. Aside from home field, this might be the only advantage the Reds will have against the Galaxy. Tony Tchani now has a chance to step up and show what he’s made of, because a strong showing in the middle of the park tonight will make a huge difference for the Reds.

Barring any glaring defensive errors from either side, the game could settle into a goal-lean wrestling match. Not that the past is especially informative for this current Toronto FC side, but that’s how 2010’s contests ended between these teams. In 2011, LA has scored no more than 1 goal in any of their previous MLS matches.

The key for the Reds will be scoring early and staying on that front foot. We had some exciting action running the left side of play in San Jose on Saturday. That kind of dynamism will be harder to attain against a fast and stingy LA defense. It will be harder still if Stevanovic is in need of rest.

We’ll probably see something of Joao Plata again, either way, and maybe we’ll get to witness his reputed pace first-hand. Thus far, he’s not shown up with much consequence after being subbed in. It would also be nice to see a bit more distribution to Javier Martina on the other flank. He seemed under-employed against the Earthquakes.

The Barrett Continuum

If Toronto FC scores first, I believe it will settle out into a 1-1 draw by the end of the evening.

Should the Galaxy get there first, I think the score will tilt in the visitors favour 3-1. If that LA first goal is scored by the Barrett, I say he goes on to pot a hat-trick. The other possibility is that Angel gets two or three of those. Both of them are looking to break scoring droughts. So far this season, everyone has been looking at Toronto FC as the patsy game for those milestones.

I’ll be there tonight, cheering the Reds to score early and score often. C’mon you Reds.

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