Tag Archive | "Samuel"

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Looking ahead: TFC Season Preview

Posted on 25 March 2008 by Scott Ferguson

Fans of Canada’s sole Major League Soccer franchise may have been hoping for more firepower in their squad ahead of the 2008 season opener, but the truth is that the team has nowhere to go but up.

The 2007 campaign saw TFC finish at the bottom of the league standings but with unprecedented success off the pitch, regularly selling out BMO Field and setting a benchmark in fan support for the rest of the league. With their expansion-season woes behind them, the pressure will be on Toronto to improve on last season’s 25-point mark and to make their debut in the MLS playoffs.

TFC have a new head coach in respected English tactician John Carver and have improved in defence ahead of Saturday’s season-opener at Columbus, but even the most ardent supporter will tell you that their goals for 2008 are modest in comparison to established heavyweights like Houston Dynamo and D.C. United.

The Reds can look to another young club, Chivas USA, as a model for what they hope to accomplish in the coming seasons. In their expansion year in 2005, Chivas struggled and finished dead last in the Western conference. One year later, they had climbed to 3rd in the West and qualified for the playoffs. Last year they stormed to the top of their conference before again losing in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup. This year, many pundits have identified Chivas as the team to beat in the Western Conference (see ASN’s Chivas season preview here).

Along with general manager Mo Johnston, Carver will be more keen to emulate Chivas’ model rather than that of another 2005 expansion side, Real Salt Lake, who just pipped TFC to 12th place in the overall standings last season. A strong performance on Saturday in Columbus would be the perfect way to start Toronto’s own ascendancy into the MLS elite, while a resounding victory in front of up to 2000 traveling supporters would be a great way to get the fans on Carver’s side.

Greg Sutton will wear the gloves for Toronto FC once again this season, and will be backed up by draft-pick Brian Edwards. Sutton had his critics at the beginning of 2007 but was often hung out to dry by a porous backline. Last season’s on-loan deputy Kenny Stamatopoulos returned to Tromsø I.L. in Norway, a club that has the distinction of being the northernmost top-flight team in world football.

TFC captain Jim Brennan and Todd Dunivant will alternate duties at left back and left midfield, with youngster Gabe Gala expected to build on his cameo appearances last season. For his part, Brennan was optimistic about the coming campaign in a discussion with MLSnet.com.

“I think we’re going to have a very good season,” he told the club’s official website. “We had a taste of MLS last year, and now we have our feet on the ground and we’re looking to take the next step of getting into the playoffs.”

In central defense, Tyrone Marshall and Andrew Boyens are joined by Puerto Rican Marco Vélez and draft picks Julius James and Pat Phelan. Marvell Wynne is expected to take up the right back position once again, and is set to terrorize his left-sided opposition throughout 2008 in between a trip to the Beijing Olympics with USA.

Midfield reinforcements have been recruited in the form of Tyler Rosenlund and ex-LA Galaxy hardman Kevin Harmse, while rumors persist about the status of Amado Guevara and triallists Martin Brittain and Victor Pacheco. In central midfield, Carl Robinson and Maurice Edu will be backed up by the new arrivals as well as youngsters Joey Melo and Tyler Hemming, while Trinidadian veteran Collin Samuel can be deployed on either wing.

Danny Dichio is virtually guaranteed a first-team spot with the club until his retirement, already having gained legend status with the opening goal, red card, and last goal of the 2007 season. Jeff Cunningham is likely to partner him up front, and if both men can stay healthy, the potentially lethal partnership could see Cunningham score his 100th MLS career goal. The American striker is currently four away from a century after just three goals last season, and accordingly, he’ll wear 96 as his shirt number for the 2008 campaign.

After supporting their team through thick and thin (mostly thin) last season, Toronto fans will be backing Cunningham to regain the form that saw him claim the MLS Golden Boot in 2006. With a strong 2008 the goal for everyone associated with TFC, the fans will hope that Cunningham’s biggest worry in a year’s time will be how to reflect 100+ goals in a shirt number.

Comments (4)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here