Return to Canada for Yallop

Posted on 18 July 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Frank Yallop will bring his San Jose Earthquakes side to Toronto on Saturday as the only Canadian manager in Major League Soccer, with Yallop hoping that his knowledge of players like Jim Brennan and Greg Sutton can help him break the club’s undefeated home streak in league action.

Toronto’s only blemish on their record at BMO Field was a Canadian Championship loss to Vancouver Whitecaps, as the Reds have enjoyed the comforts of home during league play with five wins and three draws.

In matches this year in the United States Toronto have won just one game, a 3-2 decision over Los Angeles Galaxy back in April. Carver’s men fell 2-1 in Chicago last week on a stoppage time goal by the Fire’s John Thorrington, the Reds’ sixth road loss in 2008. Such a dismal run away from home has meant that Toronto’s games at BMO Field take on even more significance for the club’s playoff hopes.

Yallop is familiar with Canadian soccer, having coached the national team from in the last World Cup qualifying cycle. His last trip to BMO Field came even more recently when his LA Galaxy side drew TFC last season He’ll have to watch from afar and relay messages to the club’s staff this time around, however. Yallop is suspended from the bench having received five cautions already this year.

O’Brien

It’s been stressful for San Jose, winless in six games going into Toronto. One player already used to such expansion woes is Ronnie O’Brien, the midfielder who was a part of Toronto’s inaugual campaign in 2007 but was restricted to just 13 appearances, emerging as a fan favourite nonetheless. A recurring knee injury meant that O’Brien sought greener pastures than the artificial turf at BMO Field in the off-season.

That chance came with the Quakes, who had already recruited Yallop to return to the Bay area for the team’s second coming. The Canadian boss had a highly successful spell at the former incarnation of the Quakes from 2001 to 2003.

O’Brien’s is questionable for the Toronto clash with a hamstring strain, with Gavin Glinton and Kelly Gray also likely to miss out. Nick Garcia is suspended along with Toronto midfielder Maurice Edu, whose teammates Todd Dunivant and Danny Dichio are on the injured list.

One player looking to benefit from Dichio’s absence is 16-year-old Abdus Ibrahim, the former FC Dallas starlet who recently joined the Reds and scored off the bench on his debut last Saturday. With English striker Paul Dickov still in talks with Toronto FC and English clubs in the second and third tier, Carver is short on firepower up front and may turn to Jeff Cunningham and Ibrahim over misfiring Kiwi striker Jarrod Smith.

Toronto are bracing for a big week and may be forced to rotate their squad ahead of Tuesday’s must-win Canadian Championship tie against Montreal Impact. There promises to be a cup final atmosphere ahead of the game, with TFC needing a win to lift the Voyageurs Cup in front of their home fans.

Jim Brennan will star for the MLS All-Star Team against West Ham United in his home ground two days later, making it three in five days if he features in both of the Reds’ matches this week.

TFC fell at home in friendly action on Tuesday night, dropping a 1-0 decision to Argentina’s Independiente. Toronto also had talented youngsters Marvell Wynne and Maurice Edu called up to the United States’ Olympic side for the tournament in Beijing this summer.

Check the Quakes page for our correspondent Evan White’s take on the upcoming game. Saturday’s encounter can be viewed on CBC in Canada.

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