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  • TFC v. FC Dallas Preview: Hello, My Name Is...


    ccs-54-14026400979_thumb.jpgWhen Toronto FC resumes MLS play Wednesday night after an 11-day midseason break, some confused TFC fans may end up yelling the customary "who are ya?" chant at a few of their own team's players.

    It'd be hard to blame them.

    In what would have been a slow, non-newsworthy week-and-a-half off at most normal clubs, TFC instead kept busy by turning over quite a few players during their hiatus from the league. No less than six new faces are eligible to make their debut for the Reds at BMO Field tonight, including long-awaited designated player duo Torsten Frings and Danny Koevermans.


    Joining Frings and Koevermans are Terry Dunfield, Ryan Johnson, Andy Iro and Leandre Griffit -- all players brought in during a frantic 24 hours of wheeling and dealing within MLS. The departed include Nana Attakora, Jacob Peterson, Alan Gordon and Tony Tchani, all -- save Attakora -- regulars for Aron Winter when healthy.

    With so much turnover in such a short time, it'll take a while for TFC as a whole to come together as a team. Unfortunately, time is not something in abundance for the remainder of 2011, as MLS and CONCACAF Champions League matches will come fast and furious from here on out.

    First up is FC Dallas, last year's MLS Cup runners-up who look to be contenders for the Philip Anschutz trophy again this season. Dallas is currently third in a highly-competitive Western Conference, led by the sterling play of Brek Shea.

    The Toros haven't missed a beat since losing Davide Ferreira early in the season, as Shea (and his eight league goals) has stepped up and been the catalyst around which the team has thrived. In addition to Shea, solid play from Brazilian midfielder Jackson and forwards Fabian Castillo and Marvin Chavez have given FCD various offensive weapons, all in front of a sturdy, experienced backline that has been as consistent as any in the league.

    There have been a few blips -- a 4-1 home loss to a then-struggling Kansas City side back in June exposed some flaws in an otherwise well-oiled machine. And Dallas' most recent match, a 0-0 draw at Pizza Hut Park to DC United, showed that the Texas club can be kept of the scoresheet by a less-talented opponent through good organization.

    But unfortunately for Toronto, "good organization" is a huge ask of a side that will likely feature a number of players that are barely on a first-name basis. If anything, TFC's biggest advantage heading into the meeting with Dallas is the disorganization that defines the Reds at the moment. In other words, FC Dallas may have no idea what exactly to expect from Toronto, as no one has actually seen this current incarnation play together yet.

    Predicting a starting XI for Toronto FC would be like throwing darts at a board at this point. Will Frings and Koevermans be fit enough to start right away? Is Dunfield's injury situation settled enough for him to play, or will he watch this one from the team suite? If Johnson starts, what does that mean for Joao Plata? Is Julian de Guzman still out with a litany of leg ailments? Has Maicon Santos recovered enough from a hamstring strain that kept him out of TFC's two previous matches?

    There are so many questions shrouding Winter's squad, that it must be hell for Schellas Hyndman and the rest of the Dallas staff to plan for the match.

    The only newcomer that seems guaranteed to start is Iro, as the 6'5" left-footer is sorely needed on Toronto's shambolic backline (especially with Richard Eckersley forced to sit out due to yellow card accumulation). Ty Harden will likely start beside him, as there is literally no one else outside of Doneil Henry left to play as a centre back. The Dans (Gargan and Borman) will probably be the fullbacks. Oh, and Stefan Frei will get the nod in between the pipes.

    So that's the defensive end settled. Or "settled", as the case may be.

    Who plays in front of them is anybody's guess.

    Toronto FC v. FC Dallas

    Wednesday, July 19, 2011. 8:00pm EDT.

    BMO Field. Toronto, ON.

    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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