TFC 2011 | Week#22

Betting on the Unexpected

Roulette Wheel

FC By The Real Lake v Real Dry Salty Lake

In the words of George Soros: “money is made by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.” And so goes the guessing on the roster and outcomes for Toronto FC going forward this season.

Since a flurry of dealmaking, Aron Winter has shown us a squad that has new potential. Yet it comes with a strong dose of the unknown. These guys really don’t have much history or chemistry to draw on when it comes time to perform.

There’s no telling whose number will come up. Nor is there much to go by yet, in terms of guessing how Winter will pick his match ups against their rivals.

TFC Evolved

There are a few near certainties in the line-up now. Torsten Frings, Danny Koevermans and Ryan Johnson are all fixtures. Youngsters like Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry and Matt Stinson are presently getting some playing time. Andy Iro will recover from last week’s withering spotlight on his bad day in DC.

And into this mixture Winter can sprinkle any number of new combinations. Options range from a veteran like Julian de Guzman or Terry Dunfield, to newcomers Peri Marosevic and Eric Avila. And then there’s the other ‘old/new stock’ like Nick Soolsma, Joao Plata and Javier Martina.

Real Contenders

Real Salt Lake arrives this week under the shadow of a very rare home loss recently. Their central defense is under duress now that stalwart Jamison Olave has succumbed to injuries. On the other hand, this is one of the league’s most competent teams, with a solid core of players who know each other and are guided by crafty manager Jason Kreis. It’s not easy to write them off, home or away.

In Salt Lake, you’d be fool to bet against RSL. At BMO Field this week, with a Toronto FC side that has started building some confidence, it seems crazy to bet against the Reds. If the past few matches are any indication, TFC will at least succeed in holding off the visitors. A clean sheet seem unlikely – Toronto FC are now as likely to score as they are to be scored upon.

No Point In Holding Back

With the MLS playoffs looming, Toronto FC have nothing to lose in playing for wins only. They risk blowing some more league games this season, but that really shouldn’t be a concern. A playoff run is more or less out of reach, unless they win the rest of the MLS contests.

The upside of this strategy would be more confidence gained from throwing it down and taking it to their opponents. They could also gain some schadenfreude from squeezing other Clubs hunting for post-season glory.

Defeating RSL would be a statement for the Reds. It would be a much needed rallying point as the final phase of the season opens up toward the finale.

Basement dwelling they might be, but season spoilers they could yet prove to be for some of the top tier teams. And this is even more true of the opponents they face in coming months. Look out New York Red Bulls – we owe you one.

CCL is the Test

The real pressure performances will now be in the Champion’s League. It’s a competition they can still contend. And it will likely require a bit more strategic wisdom to survive the group stage and move on.

It will be interesting to see if Aron Winter varies his roster based on the competitive arena. Through this most recent stretch, he has stayed fairly consistent across competitions. He’s giving his young talent and new arrivals ample opportunity to rise to the day.

This seems likely to continue, as there are so many new faces to acquaint. Hunger from the youth and newcomers can now be balanced against the stabilizing leadership of Frings, Koevermans and de Guzman. All that’s missing is the chemistry and confidence that comes from knowing each other. By November, and given the extra matches added by the CCL, we definitely should see more of this cohesion.

Calling the Odds

The future has started to look a bit brighter lately. The only downside to the spinning wheel of playing time is that it makes for chaos in the short-term.

It’s just like hovering over a spinning wheel in a casino. You know you’re probably going to come out short, but the few wins along the way will be memorable.


Toronto FC  3  –  2  Real Salt Lake


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