April 22, 2009 MLS Toronto FC vs Chivas USA pregame (from MLSnet.com)
TFC vs. Chivas Preview
04/22/2009 09:40 AM
MLSnet.com Staff Carl Robinson and the Reds face Chivas USA tonight. (Toronto FC)
By Mark Polishuk / MLSnet.com Staff
TORONTO -- Toronto FC's 3-2 loss to FC Dallas last Sunday was painful both results-wise and potentially fitness-wise for the Reds, as star midfielder Dwayne De Rosario suffered a potentially serious hamstring injury. But TFC has no time to wallow in the outcome, as the side has to recover and be prepared to host first-place Chivas USA on Wednesday night at BMO Field.
"Chivas has won four out of five, they're a good team, but we're a good team as well," said midfielder Carl Robinson. "We just haven't gotten the results in the last three games that we've wanted. But the game is set up to be a cracker and we'll make sure it's a passionate affair here."
Chivas are one of three teams (along with Chicago and New England) who have yet to face defeat this season, and their 13 points puts them at the top of the overall league table. Chivas also happens to be the only MLS team, aside from expansion Seattle, that Toronto FC has never gotten as much as a point from in the club's short history: TFC is 0-4 all-time against the Red-and-White.
In spite of the formidable opposition, Toronto head coach John Carver is confident that his team can play well on Wednesday. Carver was heartened by how his team responded against Dallas after falling behind 2-0 after 44 minutes. Adrian Serioux scored in first-half stoppage time to cut FCD's lead in half, and the Reds went on equalize before finally falling for a Kenny Cooper penalty kick in the 84th minute.
"There's an awful lot of positives you can take from the game," Carver said. "I wasn't too happy about the first-half performance, but getting the goal just before halftime on a well-worked set piece that we've been working on for a while was pleasing. We got back in the game, came out in the second half and for me dominated the game [thereafter]. I'm just disappointed that we didn't come away from the game with anything."
The Reds left Pizza Hut Park not just without any points, but also down a key player. De Rosario left the game in the 74th minute after aggravating the hamstring injury that caused him to miss two training sessions in the week leading up to the Dallas match. Carver ruled De Rosario out for the Chivas game and this Sunday's match with Kansas City, and added that the Canadian star may be unavailable for a few more weeks pending the results of a further medical scan.
With a key playmaker like De Rosario out of action, the onus will be on other players to step up in his absence. Striker Chad Barrett, who scored his first goal of the season last Sunday, believes his teammates are up to the challenge.
"We're going to have to pick up some slack," Barrett said. "Dwayne is big in our offense but we've got some big guys on the bench too ... any of those guys can come in and do a great job and they're going to have to."
While TFC is missing one of their top players, the Reds are hoping to take advantage of a Chivas team that has been beset with fitness problems. The Red-and-White had nine players on the injured list for their game last Saturday against Seattle Sounders FC, but still managed to come away with a 2-0 win.
Carver said that Chivas' success in light of these injuries is a testament to the team's work ethic and the tactics of its head coach, Preki. Carver added that he feels the Reds will respond well to the challenge of trying to tag the league leaders with their first defeat of 2009.
"You're winning football matches and no matter how you win them, you get three points and it breeds confidence," Carver said. "Preki has put together a good squad. He's got players out so [it shows] he's got depth. But for me ... all the pressure is on them because they want to keep that run going.
"We came out in the second half [against Dallas] as if the game was dead and buried and we put on a better show, so maybe we do play better when we're the underdogs."
Though Chivas are expected to have at least a couple of their injured players back for Wednesday, the game sets up as an odd reversal of the Red-and-White's last visit to BMO Field on Sept. 6, 2008. In that match it was Toronto who was undermanned, as the Reds were short nine players to international duty and unsurprisingly dropped a 3-1 result to the Red-and-White.
That loss was one of just two home defeats suffered by TFC in 2008, but so far this season, Toronto has just a draw and a loss to show from two games at BMO Field. This is the deepest into a schedule that the Reds have ever gone without a home victory, as they won their second-ever home game in 2007 and won their home opener last season.
It's far too early in the season to say that TFC has lost their traditional home-field mystique, but Robinson knows that his side can ill afford to give away too many points at home.
"If you've got to push for the playoffs as we intend, you've got to win your home games," Robinson said. "We've got to make sure we make this a fortress again and make it a hard place to come [to]. That includes starting the game right, because if you start the game right and get a foothold then it's hard for the opposition to come out."
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