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  • New York v. TFC Preview: Back to reality


    ccs-54-140264009755_thumb.jpgIt's appropriate that Toronto FC, four days removed from the emotional high that was the Voyageurs Cup final, now visit the City That Never Sleeps.

    Ok, they'll be just outside of New York City, but the Reds resumption of MLS duties in the NYC area can still be looked at as a bit of a metaphor -- in that TFC need to move on, and quickly, within shouting distance of a city that never stops moving.


    The successful two-step with Vancouver, as thrilling and emotional that is was, is in the rear view mirror now, and Toronto need to look ahead to what is essentially the beginning of the second half of their season. To start, they've got the New York Red Bulls, a team struggling to live up to its potential yet so very capable of reminding the Reds just exactly where they are in the grand scheme of things -- at the bottom.

    The timing couldn't be worse for Toronto. Still racked with injuries and coming off a rare week of dominance, Aron Winter's side face a New York squad desperate to re-assert their own dominance.

    The Red Bulls are mired in a funk that has seen them winless in four (and with just one victory since April 30th, an 11-game stretch). They've drawn a ridiculous 10 of their 18 league matches so far in 2011, and have seen some comical goalkeeping from both Bouna Coundoul and Greg Sutton in recent weeks.

    That said, Hans Backe's charges have been playing without many of their stars, as international duty had gutted the team for a large chunk of the season. The fact that they have been as successful as they are up to this point is a testament to the job Backe has done, although he'd hardly claim satisfaction with the club's current record.

    Now, with the Gold Cup long over, Backe has many of his bigger names back in the fold, and some injured ones are returning, as well. Apart from Rafael Marquez and Luke Rodgers, New York should have their entire starting lineup available for Wednesday's match with Toronto, a frightening thought when you consider that TFC won't be anything close to a first choice starting XI (and even if they did, it wouldn't be comparable to what New York can throw out there).

    To be successful, the Reds will need to take some of the fighting spirit they showed in the second half of Saturday's Nutrilite Canadian Championship decider, and hope that the Red Bulls' disjointed recent form continues. Toronto have shown that they can gut out a win against league heavyweights on the road, and they'll need to channel whatever it is that got them through gutsy away matches in L.A. and Colorado to have a chance.

    As alluded to before, New York's biggest weakness is between the goalposts, as Coundoul and Sutton have been putting on clinics of what not to do as professional goalkeepers. TFC should look to exploit that, and one would think that Winter will have his players taking shots at every opportunity.

    On the injury front, Julian de Guzman makes his return to the sidelines after just one match, remaining in Toronto when the rest of the squad jetted off to New Jersey Tuesday afternoon. Alan Gordon and Maicon Santos are still iffy, Jacob Peterson has resumed training, and the entire backline seems to be on crutches.

    Look for Tony Tchani to pair with Richard Eckersley in the centre of defence on Wednesday night. The fact that they are a central midfielder and fullback (respectively) by trade should put a bit of fear into the hearts of TFC fans, especially as they'll be handling the likes of a refreshed Thierry Henry and young Juan Agudelo for ninety minutes.

    As well as Eckersley has looked as a CB, and as natural an athlete that Tchani is, they are merely stop-gap solutions to a much bigger problem. TFC fans will be hoping that they can curb the tide that is New York's potent-yet-sputtering offence.

    New York Red Bulls v. Toronto FC

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011. 8:00pm EDT.

    Red Bull Arena. Harrison, NJ.

    Watch: TSN

    Listen: FAN590.com

    Rudi Schuller occasionally contributes Toronto FC and Canadian national team content to the 24th Minute. He manages the Euro File here at Canadian Soccer News, and is MLSsoccer.com's beat writer for all things concerning Canada's men's national teams. Follow Rudi on Twitter, @RudiSchuller.

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